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Light & stone: gems from the collection of Michael Scott.



When you think of emeralds do you think green? You may be surprised to learn that traditional gems come in a variety of colours. Beryl, the variety of stone that includes emerald, ranges from pink morganite and blue aquamarine to the rare red emerald and the extremely rare colourless goshenite. Rare garnets, prized for their diamond-like brilliance, come in every colour except blue with the two most desirable species--demantoid and tsavorite--being green. Even diamond has blue, yellow, cognac, orange, green, and purple forms.

Breathtaking and unmatched specimens of precious stones like these, as well as gem crystals, jewellery, and gem artworks, are featured in Light & Stone: Gems from the Collection of Michael Scott, on display in the ROM's Gallery of Gems and Gold. Arguably the most important private collection in North America, the Michael Scott Collection has few rivals in the world outside royal families. More than 200 superb pieces, all carefully chosen by Scott, represent the quality and diversity of crystals and gems.

Among the exhibition's highlights is a spectacular tiara featuring the world's largest faceted tanzanite encircled by 803 rare tsavorite garnets and 913 brilliant-cut diamonds.

"Collecting the world's largest and best examples of gem species has been my passion for almost 25 years," says Scott, who was also the first CEO of Apple Computers. He has devoted himself to learning what makes the right gem a priceless treasure while another is considered almost worthless.

His collection contains numerous rarities and newly discovered stones. The rare tanzanite, a relatively new mineral discovered in 1968 by Maasai herdsmen in the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, has an entire section devoted to it. Another case is filled with another new gem species--the Paraiba-type tourmaline discovered in the 1980s in northeastern Brazil.


Other rarities are a "rainbow" calcite, which has the unique ability to separate and reflect light into its spectral colours, and the world's largest faceted benitoite gem, a stone the colour of blue sapphire but with the fire and reflective properties of diamond. Many spectacular traditional gems are also on view, including an entire case of emeralds. One of the highlights in this family of gems is the rare "pigeon's blood" ruby.

But going beyond the beauty of the crystals themselves, Scott has also explored the human factor in cut gemstones. From the renowned gem-carving villages of Idar and Oberstein in southwestern Germany, he has acquired numerous sculptures, more than 15 of which are on display. Six carved works are by Bernd Munsteiner, who pioneered a technique he dubbed the "fantasy cut," which allows each side to reflect against the other. And John Marshall, a Seattle-based artist and silversmith, also collaborated with Scott to create unique silver sculptures that complement Scott's gems and crystals.

"I call this exhibition Light & Stone because it's the union of these two opposites that brings gemstones to brilliant life," says Scott. "I hope that ROM visitors feel my same wonder and awe when experiencing the amazing beauty nature creates."


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Publication:ROM Magazine
Date:Dec 22, 2008
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