How One Collaboration Is Trying to Bring More American Gems to Museums

SourcingJan 24, 2022

How One Collaboration Is Trying to Bring More American Gems to Museums

“American Gemstones” wants to raise appreciation of the stones, and those who mine and cut them, even more.

This group of stones came from the Sunstone Butte mine in Oregon.
New York—It’s a popular time for American gemstones, but there’s one project aiming to raise the appreciation of the stones, and those who mine and cut them, even more.

A member of the trade who has worked with miners and lapidaries for years got the ball rolling on the American Gemstones project, though he has opted to leave his name out of it so the work and artists involved can speak for themselves.

His goal is to bring the American miners, cutters, and designers who work with stones sourced stateside into the limelight by creating museum-worthy collections and getting them into permanent displays.

He has gathered material from mines including the Sunstone Butte mine in Oregon, the Reel Mine in North Carolina, the Hogg Mine in Georgia, and Hallelujah Junction, Nevada, to name a few.

Lapidaries involved include Darryl Alexander, Derek Katzenbach, Ryan Anderson, Dalan Hargrave, Aaron Sangenitto, and Naomi Sarna, among others.

Most of the pieces gathered for the collaboration feature unique cuts and styles, and are one-of-a-kind artistic creations crafted by American lapidaries just for the project.

But to allow for a fuller appreciation of all kinds of American stones, the collection also features some traditional cuts. They are typically round, concave-cut faceted stones not cut by American artists—an exception made to allow for a wider range of stones in the group.

Some, meanwhile, are surprising examples of commercially cut stones, such as faceted opaque opals, produced through the collaboration to experiment with and provide additional education on the versatility and visual impact of such faceted gems.

These cut and carved amethyst and smoky quartz stones came from Hallelujah Junction, Nevada.
These cut and carved amethyst and smoky quartz stones came from Hallelujah Junction, Nevada.

Playing a big part in the project now is the University of Arizona’s new Alfie Norville Gem & Mineral Museum, connected through Somewhere in the Rainbow’s Shelly Sergent, who serves on the museum’s board and has placed several hundreds of pieces on display there.

The gem and mineral museum has a case specifically for the American Gemstones project, which the latter has dubbed the Legacy Collection. It currently focuses largely on American sunstone.

Importantly for the project, the case is a permanent and rotating display. So, while it’s filled with sunstone now through early 2023, it will then switch to showcase quartz, then opal in 2024, followed potentially by sapphire and tourmaline. 

The team behind the project is also building on jade, agate, and other North American gemstones, with a preference for representing gems with some form of commercial production, though they’re also considering series like fossilized materials, metallic gems, and antique glass.

And since education goes hand-in-hand with showing gemstones, it’s also a big focus for this project.

Take, for example, what they did with an 810-carat rough “sherry” topaz from the Rise Above Mine in Colorado to demonstrate a characteristic in some gemstones. 

They cut the rough into two pieces.

Darryl Alexander gave one piece a fantasy cut. It’s being called “Now You See Me…” 

The other piece was intentionally left out in the sun, and, after two days, the color had changed. Darryl’s son, Nick, then took that piece and also gave it a fantasy cut; it has been dubbed “… Now You Don’t.”

The pieces not only show beautiful craftsmanship but also provide a real example of what can happen to light-sensitive stones for those at the museum. 

 Related stories will be right here … 

American Gemstones has also donated stones to the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals just outside of Portland, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, and the Smithsonian, the last of which helped kick off the concept originally in 2013.

There will also be a display at the upcoming Pueblo Gem & Mineral Show in Tucson.

To help raise even more awareness for the collaboration and to bring education about the stones to the fore, American Gemstones also launched an accompanying Instagram account and website. The latter features stunning shots of the stones in its collection as well as plenty of pertinent and fun information about each or their overall gem species or variety.

Each stone also has information on where it has been donated; those still looking for a permanent museum homes are listed as “unassigned.”

The hope, after all, is that the collaboration will grow to include even more mines, artists, and museums to better represent what American gemstones and those who work with them have to offer.

Anyone interested in collaborating is encouraged to reach out via the website or Instagram
Brecken Branstratoris the senior editor, gemstones at National Jeweler, covering sourcing, pricing and other developments in the colored stone sector.

The Latest

MajorsJan 30, 2023
Researchers Uncover Bejeweled ‘Golden Boy’ Mummy

The ancient Egyptian teenager was buried 2,300 years ago with 49 amulets to guide him through the afterlife.

SurveysJan 30, 2023
Consumers Embracing Non-Traditional Ways to Mark Valentine’s Day

The NRF’s annual survey shows that consumer attitudes about how, or even whether, to celebrate Feb. 14 continue to evolve.

Events & AwardsJan 30, 2023
JA Is Searching for the Next Retail ’20 Under 40’

Nominations are open now through March 24.

Brought to you by
Bringing Over 130 Years of Diamond Expertise to Modern Grading

De Beers Institute of Diamonds provides the very best in diamond verification, education and diamond services.

MajorsJan 30, 2023
10 Jewelry News Stories You Might Have Missed

A column detailing how independent jewelers did last year and the top watch brands of 2022 were among the most-read stories last week.

Weekly QuizJan 26, 2023
This Week’s Quiz
Test your jewelry news knowledge with this short test.
Take the Quiz
FinancialsJan 27, 2023
Tiffany & Co. Shines for LVMH in 2022

Acquired in 2021, the brand’s high jewelry sales have doubled and its new “Lock” collection was an instant hit.

MajorsJan 27, 2023
Diamond Council of America Appoints Treasurer, Board Member

Executives from Fred Meyer Jewelers and Riddles Jewelers have filled the roles.

Brought to you by
De Beers Institute of Diamonds Expands to Offer Education

De Beers is sharing over 130 years of experience and expertise through the De Beers Institute of Diamonds with a selection of courses.

CollectionsJan 27, 2023
Piece of the Week: Heavenly Vices’ Lock Necklace

The Victorian-inspired design is a functional lock and key.

Supplier BulletinJan 26, 2023
JA New York Spring Brings the Industry Together

For over 100 years, JA New York has played an integral role in facilitating the evolution of our industry, while also honoring past traditions.

TrendsJan 26, 2023
At Vicenzaoro, Paola De Luca Gazes Into Jewelry’s Future

The trend forecaster and her guests explored unconventional jewelry designs, NFTs, AI art, and more during her Trendvision presentation.

CollectionsJan 26, 2023
NDC and Lorraine Schwartz Announce New ‘EDDI’ Class

The Emerging Designers Diamond Initiative provides diamond credit and mentorship to young brands helmed by BIPOC designers.

IndependentsJan 26, 2023
Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry Set to Open 10th Store

It will be located in San Antonio’s Alamo Quarry Market and will be Lee Michaels’ third location in the city.

Policies & IssuesJan 26, 2023
Diamonds Do Good Names 10 to Board of Directors

Stephanie Gottlieb, Jewelers Mutual’s Mike Alexander, and Craig Rottenberg of Long’s Jewelers are among the new board members.

WatchesJan 25, 2023
These Were 2022’s Top-Selling Watch Brands, Chrono24 Says

Rolex remained No. 1 while a brand known for its pilot watches slipped into the No. 5 spot.

MajorsJan 25, 2023
John Hardy Names New CEO

Luxury retail executive Frédéric Levy has taken on the role.

Events & AwardsJan 25, 2023
Couture DAC Accepting Applications for Mentorship Program

Jewelry designers have until early February to apply to take part in Couture's Diversity Action Council program.

CollectionsJan 25, 2023
Stephanie Gottlieb Announces First President, CCO Hire

Morgan P. Richardson joins from La Perla.

Policies & IssuesJan 25, 2023
PGI’s New Portal Wants to Teach You About Platinum

The new portal will share information on responsible platinum sourcing and how it’s used beyond jewelry.

ColumnistsJan 24, 2023
On Data: Here’s How Independent Jewelers Did in 2022

Sherry Smith breaks down retailers’ performance last year, including how natural diamonds fared vs. lab-grown.

GradingJan 24, 2023
GIA and AGS Launch Diamond Light Performance Supplement Report

The AGS Ideal Report by GIA is a digital-only addition to GIA diamond reports.

MajorsJan 24, 2023
WJA Announces New International Board Members

The seven newcomers include executives from David Yurman, De Beers, and GIA.

EditorsJan 23, 2023
Designers to Watch in 2023: Aurelia Demark

The designer finds the modernity in classic motifs and family heirloom jewels.

Policies & IssuesJan 23, 2023
Melanie Grant Named Executive Director of RJC

She has more than 20 years’ experience in watches and jewelry, and says sustainability is the “greatest single issue” facing the industry.

Policies & IssuesJan 23, 2023
AGTA Forms Committee to Standardize Industry ‘Sustainability’ Terms

Its focus are words like “sustainability,” “ethics,” and “responsible sourcing.”

IndependentsJan 23, 2023
10 Jewelry News Stories You Might Have Missed

Another “Designer to Watch” and Kim Kardashian’s auction purchase were among our most-read stories.

MajorsJan 20, 2023
Quality Gold Acquires Herco

Herco President Reuven Itelman is retiring and selling the company, which will relocate to Ohio from California.


This site uses cookies to give you the best online experience. By continuing to use & browse this site, we assume you agree to our Privacy Policy