Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Silverdale Viking silver hoard

In late 2011 Darren Webster, from Carnforth, Lancashire, uncovered more than 200 silver pieces including ornate bracelets, coins and ingots in a lead pot. The silver is now at the British Museum, where experts describe the find as "of national significance".

Viking hoards are extremely rare. The hoard contained coins bearing the name of a previously-unknown Viking ruler of northern England.

The hoard included 10 complete arm rings, two finger rings, six brooch fragments, a fine wire braid and 141 fragments of chopped-up arm rings and ingots, known as hacksilver.

It is believed to date to around AD 900, a time of intense conflict between the Anglo-Saxons and the Danish settlers of northern England. The hoard was declared a treasure and valued at £110,000.

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Crown Jewels

St. Edward’s Crown, Anointing Spoon, Ampulla, Imperial State Crown, Orb, Armills, Spurs, Coronation Ring, Sceptre with Cross, Chalice, Sceptre with Dove, Paten, and Jewelled Sword of Offering.
The collective term Crown Jewels denotes the regalia and vestments worn by the sovereign of the United Kingdom.

The earliest known use of regalia in England was discovered by archaeologists in 1988 in Deal, Kent and dates to between 200 and 150 B.C. Inside the tomb of the "Mill Hill Warrior" was a bronze crown, a sword, a scabbard, a brooch and a ceremonial shield.

The Crown Jewels are displayed to millions of visitors every year, and are guarded by Yeomen Warders (‘Beefeaters’) in the Tower of London. The Jewel House at the Tower has been used for the secure storage of the precious ceremonial objects since the early 14th century.
Although attempts have been made to steal the Crown Jewels from the Tower, most notably by Colonel Blood in 1671, none have succeeded.

The Imperial State Crown incorporates many famous gemstones including the 317 carat Cullinan II diamond, Black Prince’s Ruby, the Stuart Sapphire, St Edward’s Sapphire and Queen Elizabeth’s Pearls. The Sovereign traditionally wears the Imperial State Crown at the conclusion of the coronation service, when leaving Westminster Abbey. It is also worn for the State Opening of Parliament.
The Sovereign's Orb weighs 1.32kg and is made from unmarked gold and set with over 600 precious stones and pearls. It was made for Charles II's coronation in 1661.

Dating from 1661, the Sovereign's Sceptre with Cross signifies temporal power. The sceptre is 92.2cm long. Precious stones include the 530 carat Cullinan I diamond.

Regalia includes three swords which represent mercy, spiritual justice and temporal justice.
The ampulla, dated 1661, is a golden eagle flask which holds the holy oil used in the anointing of the Sovereign during a coronation.

The Queen holds the Orb and Sceptre used at her coronation, June 2, 1953.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Diamonds of Brazil

In 1725 diamonds were found by placer gold miners in the Abaete and Jequitinhonha Tijuco rivers region of Minas Gerais, Brazil.

The discovery effectively ended India’s 2,600-year diamond monopoly. By the 1740s, the Portuguese government allowed a few plantation owners to work the land for diamonds using slave labor.
In the second half of the 18th century, more diamond discoveries extended Brazil's diamond fields from Diamantia (formerly Tejuco, where the stones were first found) to Bahia in the north, Goyaz in the west, and Matto Grasso in the jungle. In 1818, Brazil's total diamond production stood at 3,240,000 carats.

With independence in 1822 anyone who could afford to pay taxes was allowed to mine for diamonds.
Slavery was legal and slaves did virtually all the actual diamond mining. Production waned in succeeding years and by 2009 only 21,000 carats came from Brazil.

The largest diamond ever found in Brazil was a 254-carat stone, discovered in 1853 in Minas Gerais. The "Star of the South" was found by a slave girl named Rosa in 1853, at the Bagagem River. It was handed over to her master, Casimiro de Moraes, who rewarded her by granting her freedom and a pension for life. The stone was cut into an oval cushion shape weighing 128.48 carats.
The Moussaieff Red Diamond is 5.11 carats with a triangular brilliant cut, rated in color as Fancy Red and it is the world's largest known red diamond.

The Moussaieff Red was discovered in the 1990s by a Brazilian farmer in the Abaetezinho river in 1990, in a region known as Alto Paranaiba.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

National Gem Collection - The Smithsonian

The National Museum of Natural History is located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. It is the most visited natural history museum in the world, and most visited museum in North America.
Opened in 1910, the museum on the National Mall was one of the first Smithsonian buildings constructed exclusively to hold the national collections and research facilities.

The museum's collections total over 126 million specimens of plants, animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites, and human cultural artifacts.

11.24 carat demantoid garnet from Russia

16.79-carat orangey-pink spinel from Tajikistan

Intense yellow fluorite from Tanzania

Turkish diaspore

17.08-carat Whitney Alexandrite

Spessartine garnet
See ----->
See ----->
See ----->