Museum Treasure: Gold, silver, copper, diamond

The Sedgwick Museum of Geology in the university town of Cambridge (UK) is, to put it mildly, a fascinating place. It has a fantastic collection of fossils, rock specimens from all over the world, as well as a large collection of minerals and metals. On a visit to Cambridge, this was one of the places I chose to explore. I loved their unique collection, but what really caught my attention was a display of the natural or native forms of gold, silver and copper, as well as a natural “solitaire” as found in its host rock, Kimberlite.

Gold, silver and copper as they appear in their natural state

The “solitaire” in Kimberlite

At least the gold had a semblance of something “golden” about it; the silver looked like the charred remains of something unidentifiable, while the copper looked like a clod of earth. As for the diamond, it looked like a dull and opaque bubble, but remarkable displayed it natural octahedra crystalline form clearly. As a student of geology, I had studied about them, seen photographs of them as found naturally, but had never seen actually seen gold, silver, copper or diamond in their natural states with my own eyes till that day at the Sedgwick Museum in Cambridge.

Don’t you think that it’s mind-boggling to think of all the processes that precious metals and stones undergo to be presented in the form that we recognise them as? It’s a wonder that whoever first discovered these precious metals and stones could visualise what the finished product would look like.

Quite amazing, isn’t it?

The Museum Treasure Series is all about artifacts found in museums with an interesting history and story attached to them. You can read more from this series here.

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6 thoughts on “Museum Treasure: Gold, silver, copper, diamond

  1. You studied geology and they didn’t’ show you the native forms of the precious metals? It can only be in India that this would happen. Anyway better late than never, as they say. :)
    It is quite a process these metals have to undergo to shine in all their glory. Loved the bubble of solitaire.

    • I’ve never seen the pure forms, Zephyr, as they are rare and expensive for colleges to acquire. But I have seen a whole range of copper ores and also visited copper mines in India.

    • The only transforming process that I have seen are that of building stones and decorative tiles like granites and marbles. I would love to see a gem getting transformed.

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