Exhibition Highlights

Hidden Gems features some of the most eye-popping color and forms found in nature. Specimens in display are from all over the world, including many from our own region.

San Diego County is one of the best-known gem-producing regions in the world, and visitors will explore some of these local riches—luminous quartz, gleaming topaz, and the signature watermelon-pink tourmalines that have brought fame to San Diego mines.

Hidden Gems will span all five floors of the Museum, and on each level, you will discover specimens to see or touch while also exploring key geological features of our region.

  • Over 100 gem and mineral specimens from the Museum’s collection showcasing the diversity of minerals from all over the world.
  • A selection of gems and minerals San Diego County is famous for, including watermelon tourmaline, topaz, morganite, and spodumene.
  • A replica gem pocket like one you would find in the hills of San Diego County.
  • A selection of carved bowls created by award winning lapidary artist George Ashley. These are part the largest known collection of George Ashley bowls, and they are housed here at The Nat.
  • A 4,580 carat blue topaz cut gemstone on loan from The San Diego Museum of Art.
  • A selection of birthstones presented by the Gemological Institute of America.
  • A 24-foot sculpture modeled after silicate structure—the molecules that form minerals—suspended from the ceiling. Silicates are a crystalline structure, and they make up more than 90% of the earth’s crust.