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How the World’s Largest Aquamarine Gem Came to Be

For those who study what happens when magma and crust collide, igneous rocks like pegmatites are a welcome sight. But in addition to holding clues about Earth’s mineral and geologic processes, pegmatites deposits are known for containing diverse and richly colored mineral crystals that can be cut into spectacular gems. One of the largest — if not best — example is the Dom Pedro Aquamarine.

This roughly 4.6-pound gem was cut from a massive 100-pound aquamarine crystal unearthed in the late 1980s. Today, it sits in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, enticing visitors to explore the Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals and inspiring curiosity about the crystals and minerals resting inside Earth’s rocks.

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