Gift of Chamberlain Fund in 1992.
The zinc carbonate mineral smithsonite was named after James Smithson, the British chemist and mineralogist who first recognized it as a distinct mineral. James Smithson (1754-1829) was the founder of the Smithsonian Institution. He was a well-regarded scientist and dedicated his life to investigating the natural world, traveling in Europe to find crystals and minerals to discover and classify their properties. Smithsonite was a principal source of zinc until the 1880s, but it is now mined as a minor ore of zinc. It is typically found as botryoidal masses and only rarely found as well-formed crystals. Gem quality smithsonite is very rare and typically exhibits a semi-transparent bluish-green color with beautiful luster. This faceted green gem is from Arizona.