gemstones
highlights of halls 1-4

bornite

Frossnitzalpe, Tauerntal, East Tyrol. Dimensions of the sample: 5 x 5 x 4 cm, Inv. No. G 5126.

The bornite deposits of the Frossnitzalpe are among the most interesting cleft mineralisations of the Alps. The crystal pictured here measures 4,3 x 4,0 x 3,5 cm. A particularly rare feature of this sample is the 5 mm large gold nugget on the side. The piece is certainly one of the best specimens of its type in general, and of bornite in particular. The deposit was discovered at the end of the 19th century and was exploited. No new discoveries have been made.
 

crocoite

Beresowsk, Urals, Russia. Dimensions of the specimen: Approx. 36 x 21 cm, Inv. No. A.d. 26

Crocoite, a lead chromate, occurs in particularly fine and large crystals in Tasmania and in the Urals.
 

erythrite

Schneeberg, Saxony, Germany. Length of crystals: about 1 cm.
 

epidote

Knappenwand, Untersulzbachtal, Salzburg. Dimensions of the specimen: Approx. 15 x 6 cm, Inv. No. A.J. 135.
With the Knappenwand ("Miners' Wall"), Austria is in possession of one of the most significant epidote deposits in the world. In the crevices and ravines of the mountain area, unusual amounts of green-black, very shiny and large crystals were found, often bizarrely intergrown. The site, discovered in 1865, was subsequently commercially exploited.
 

phenakite

Leckbachrinne, Habachtal, Salzburg. Dimensions of the crystal: Approx. 6.5 x 5.5 x 4.0 cm, Inv. No. L 5801.
Phenakite, a beryllium-aluminium-silicate was fairly recently discovered also in the vicinity of the emerald deposits in the Habachtal. The sample is very similar to those from the deposits in Takowaja in the Urals. The crystal shown is one of the largest found in the Leckbachrinne. Some of these phenacites are more or less yellow-brown in colour and approach gem quality
 

turquoise

Persia. Dimensions of the object: Approx. 25 x 20 cm, Inv. No. J 4887.
The piece, worked in the form of a talisman portraying happiness and success, was a gift to Emperor Franz Joseph I from the Persian turquoise cutter and merchant, Mehdi Gassem, from Mashhad, in 1915. The turquoise is the size of an ostrich egg and is surrounded by a broad, richly decorated gold setting, topped with the Imperial Crown. The flaws almost inevitably present in stones of this size are masterfully disguised by golden letters and figural depictions. On the gold setting there are many small turquoises as well as a hymn of praise in Persian characters to the Austrian Emperor: "Oh Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary, protector of the law, may God protect you! We Muslims pray devoutly to God: Give him your support and him make victorious!"
 

emerald

Leckbachrinne, Habachtal, Salzburg. Dimensions of the crystal: Approx. 3,5 x 2 cm, Inv. No. A.a. 6913.
The first reference to the emerald deposits in the Habachtal dates back to 1797 and was recorded by the Mining Expert at the Imperial Court in Salzburg. The large crystal pictured here is one of the most beautiful from this deposit and came into the possession of the Imperial Mineralogical Collection in 1874 as a gift from A. Rueff of Salzburg.
 

topaz

Alabaschka near Murzinka, Urals, Russia. Dimensions of the specimen: Approx. 20 x 13 cm, Inv. No. F 4319.
The light blue, totally clear topaz crystal is grown on a group of smoky quartz crystals. Alongside, there is also platy albite ("cleavelandite") and mica to be seen. Specimens from this deposit rate among the most aesthetically beautiful of this mineral species.
 

diamond in kimberlite

Du Toits Pan, South Africa. Dimensions of the crystal: Approx. 1 x 1 x 1 cm, Inv. No. e 1975.
The octahedral diamond crystal shown has about 10 carats. The specimen was a gift from Mr. Richard Drasche von Wartinberg to the Imperial Museum in 1880.
 

platinum-nugget

Urals, Siberia, Russia. Dimensions: approx. 12 x 10 x 8 cm, Inv. No. A.i. 731.
This nugget is probably the second-largest of its kind and weighs 6,2 kilograms. The object comes from the Russian Prince Anatoli Nikolajevich Demidov who owned several mines and who presented it as a gift in 1859 to the Director of the Mineral Collection
 

gold nugget from the urals

This gold nugget weighs 548 grams, comes from the gold-rich sands of Miask in the Urals and was a gift presented by Czar Nicholas I to Emperor Ferdinand I in 1836 (Inv. No. A.i. 739). The gift included several other valuable objects representing a selection of Russian minerals and rocks. This collection was subsequently donated to the Mineral Collection.
 

alexandrite

Takovaja, Urals, Russia. Inv. Nos. A.J. 484 and F 9122 (ring).
The most significant piece among the collection of ring stones is the cut and polished alexandrite depicted here, which comes from the emerald deposits of the Takovaja (Tokovaja) in the Urals. The stone weighs 12.78 carats (approx. 2.56 grams) and is remarkable for its intensive change in colour from green (in daylight) to red (in artificial light). It has no inclusions and is perfectly cut.
 

tourmaline

Pala, California, USA. Dimensions of the sample: 18.5 x 16 cm, Inv. No. J 3775.
Tourmaline is the name of a group of boron-containing complex silicate minerals that are relatively common in some rocks, even though only rarely with gemstone quality. This impressive tourmaline specimen, acquired by the Natural History Museum in 1913, comes from the Tourmaline King mine, Pala District (Southern California). Both South California and Brazil furnish the most beautiful tourmaline crystals in the world.
 

bouquet made of gems

Maria Theresia, co-regent in the Habsburg dominions, shared her husband's interest in the sciences. She presented Franz Stephan with the wonderful bouquet of precious stones, which is justifiably considered as the founding object of the precious stone collection of the Viennese Museum. 761 variegated stones and 2,102 diamonds were used in the assembly of this bouquet of jewels - representing a bouquet of flowers, along with diverse artistically reproduced insects, leaves of silk, contained in a vase of rock crystal. Maria Theresia is said to have put this bouquet in the Emperor's Mineral Cabinet one spring morning (FITZINGER, 1856). Traditionally, it is alleged that this is Viennese work; it is ascribed to a Viennese jeweller, Michael von Grosser. However, there is some evidence that the bouquet originates from Georg Gottfried Lautensack, a jeweller from Frankfurt and that Goethe in his youth was already intrigued by the manufacture of this objet d'art (NIEDERMAYR, 1989). Taking historical developments into account, which are dealt with in Goethe's fourth book: "Aus meinem Leben" (From my life), the bouquet must have been almost completed by the year 1763. The Emperor's son, later to be Emperor Joseph II, was crowned King of the Germans in Frankfurt in the year 1765 and died in the summer of the same year