Spessartiteis a species of garnet, and a type of silicate mineral.
What I love about the gem hall - and maybe I’ve said it a million times, but in any case - what I love about the gem hall, especially ours, is its reflective ability to display both our love and fascination with natural beauty as well as the ego we embrace to improve upon nature. We impose our talent and craftsmanship on all sorts of aspects of our natural world, but this hall is an instance where you can see the evolution of artifact from somewhat attainable raw mineral to a man-made work of art, inconceivable to most, and intrinsically wrapped up in human history: where is the original stone from, who mined it, who cut and shaped it, who wore it, for how long, and where? It’s as if the hall is just as much an anthropological look into privileged life as it is a tribute to geologic happenstance.
And while it may not bother the average visitor to see the gorgeous stones in matrix on display and out of reach, something nags at us when we see such a jaw-dropping piece of jewelry behind glass. We’re asked, do you ever loan these out for parties? Can I borrow one, rent one for an evening? Will you sell it? How much is it worth? And the answer is, really, no - these are specimens to be studied as much as our skeletons and meteorites, the fossils in our collections, the millions of ants in drawers. The answer is, once these specimens come to the Museum, their importance - as a rule - is equalized in value as another benchmark in time, culture, and history, an emblem for what we humans valued when the artifact was created, a study of human history through the metamorphosis of our natural resources.
The crystal in matrix is from China, the faceted gems are from Tanzania, and the necklace was a donation for the Grainger Hall of Gems here at The Field Museum.