Minerals and Gemstones of Victoria

By Museums Victoria

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Forsterite by Benjamin HealleyMuseums Victoria

"...as yet no one country on the broad earth has yielded such as assemblage of varieties of rare and precious gems as Victoria."

Rev. John Bleasdale, 1868

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Gold by Frank CoffaMuseums Victoria

Many early gemstone discoveries in Victoria were made by diggers sifting alluvial deposits for gold.

The wide range of gemstones found in the State reflect Victoria's geological diversity.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Gold by Frank CoffaMuseums Victoria

Victoria is one of the World's richest gold provinces. It has produced over 2.45 million kg of gold.

Gold was originally found in shallow alluvial deposits. These were exhausted by the 1860s when miners began to work the source - the gold-bearing quartz reefs.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Gold on quartz by Frank CoffaMuseums Victoria

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Gold by Frank CoffaMuseums Victoria

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Gold by Frank CoffaMuseums Victoria

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Gold by Frank CoffaMuseums Victoria

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Quartz by Sarah McCaffreyMuseums Victoria

Quartz isn't just a home for gold. It is also the most common gemstone in Victoria. 

Rock Crystal, Amethyst, Smoky Quartz and Citrine varieties all occur in Victoria. Many of these were first found in the 1850s and 1860s during the opening of the major alluvial goldfields.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Quartz, (amethyst) by Benjamin HealleyMuseums Victoria

Amethyst.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Quartz (amethyst) by Sarah McCaffreyMuseums Victoria

Smooth polished amethyst.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Quartz (citrine) by Benjamin HealleyMuseums Victoria

Faceted citrine.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Quartz by John BroomfieldMuseums Victoria

Cut and uncut smoky quartz specimens.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Faceted Quartz, The Crystal King by John BroomfieldMuseums Victoria

When cut in 1971 the Crystal King was the world's largest hand-cut gemstone. It weighs 8510 carats (1.7 kg), meaures 19 x 11 x 6 cm and has 196 facets. 1400 carats were removed during cutting.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Quartz (agate) by John BroomfieldMuseums Victoria

Other attractive forms of quartz are also common in Victoria. 

Agates occur in silica-rich volcanic rocks across the state and are often made into cabochons - gems that are shaped by polishing rather than by cutting.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Quartz (agate) by John BroomfieldMuseums Victoria

Agates usually form as geodes, or "thunder eggs" when gas bubbles in cooling volcanic rocks are filled in with silica-rich fluids as the surrounding rock cools.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Quartz (agate) Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Quartz (agate)Museums Victoria

Different coloured bands in the agates come from variations in the chemical composition of the fluids the rock crystallises from.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Quartz (agate) by John BroomfieldMuseums Victoria

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Opal by Frank CoffaMuseums Victoria

Opal - another variety of silica - also occurs in Victoria.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Diamond by Caroline HardingMuseums Victoria

Diamonds were first reported in Victoria in the early 1860s in streams and older buried stream channels.

Most diamonds were discovered during treatment of wash-dirt for gold and tin between the 1860s and 1900s. No commercial deposits have been found.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Diamond by John BroomfieldMuseums Victoria

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Diamond by John BroomfieldMuseums Victoria

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Diamond by Frank CoffaMuseums Victoria

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Corundum (sapphire) by Frank CoffaMuseums Victoria

Sapphires - the transparent, coloured gem varieties of corundum - are quite common in some places.

They occur as waterworn crystal fragments in streams and older gravel deposits.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Corundum (sapphires) by Frank CoffaMuseums Victoria

Blue is the predominant colour of the crystals found, but other colours also occur.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Corundum (sapphire) Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Corundum (sapphire)Museums Victoria

Such as green,

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Corundum, (sapphires) by Benjamin HealleyMuseums Victoria

purple,

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Corundum by Frank CoffaMuseums Victoria

and also yellow and brown.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Corundum, (ruby) by Benjamin HealleyMuseums Victoria

The pink variety, rubies, are much rarer and smaller than the sapphires.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Corundum (sapphire) by Simon HinkleyMuseums Victoria

Not all corundum is found as individual crystals. Some is found embedded in other rocks.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Topaz on smoky quartz by Frank CoffaMuseums Victoria

Topaz and other members of the tourmaline family are found across Victoria.

The gem-quality minerals usually form in granite but are rarely found with granite as they wash out and accumulate in alluvial deposits.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Topaz by Frank CoffaMuseums Victoria

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Topaz Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: TopazMuseums Victoria

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Olenite by Frank CoffaMuseums Victoria

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Almandine by Clare McLellanMuseums Victoria

Minerals from the garnet group are widespread.

Almandine, spessartine, pyrope, grossular and andradite all occur in Victoria but few crystals are large enough or transparent enough to facet.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Almandine by Frank CoffaMuseums Victoria

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Andradite by Sarah McCaffreyMuseums Victoria

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Turquoise by John BroomfieldMuseums Victoria

Turquoise was discovered in Victoria in the late 1880s.

It was once mined commercially in Victoria.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Turquoise by Frank CoffaMuseums Victoria

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Calcite (eye-agate) by Benjamin HealleyMuseums Victoria

Iron-rich carbonates have been known in Victoria since the 1860s.

Fine concentric banding formed in cavities around 5 cm across resemble agates and are often called eye-agate.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Calcite with siderite by Benjamin HealleyMuseums Victoria

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Zircon by Sarah McCaffreyMuseums Victoria

Other minerals found in Victoria can also be faceted.

Such as zircons.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Forsterite by Frank CoffaMuseums Victoria

Or olivine (peridot).

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Anorthoclase Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: AnorthoclaseMuseums Victoria

Or anorthoclase (moonstone).

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Natrolite with calcite by Frank CoffaMuseums Victoria

Many minerals from Victoria aren't gems but are just as beautiful in their natural form.

A wide variety of colours and shapes are exhibited by minerals. Some have more than one shape.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Levyne by Frank CoffaMuseums Victoria

Levyne.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Natrolite with analcime by Frank CoffaMuseums Victoria

Natrolite with analcime.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Natrolite with Analcite by Frank CoffaMuseums Victoria

Natrolite with analcite.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Vivianite by Frank CoffaMuseums Victoria

Vivianite.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Vivianite by Frank CoffaMuseums Victoria

Vivianite.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Orthoclase by Frank CoffaMuseums Victoria

Orthoclase.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Chabazite by Frank CoffaMuseums Victoria

Chabazite.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Chabazite on calcite by Frank CoffaMuseums Victoria

Chabazite on calcite

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Barite by Frank CoffaMuseums Victoria

Barite.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Ulrichite by Frank CoffaMuseums Victoria

Ulrichite.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Sampleite by Frank CoffaMuseums Victoria

Sampleite.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Wavellite by Frank CoffaMuseums Victoria

Wavellite.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Rhodochrosite by John BroomfieldMuseums Victoria

Rhodochrosite.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Fluorapatite by Frank CoffaMuseums Victoria

Fluorapatite

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Mrazekite by Frank CoffaMuseums Victoria

Mrazekite.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Vesuvianite by Frank CoffaMuseums Victoria

Vesuvianite.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Gmelinite by Frank CoffaMuseums Victoria

Gmelinite.

Museum Victoria mineral specimens from Victoria: Thomsonite by Frank CoffaMuseums Victoria

Thomsonite.

Credits: Story

Many more minerals and gemstones from Victoria, Australia and the rest of the World are on display in the Dynamic Earth Gallery at Melbourne Museum.

More information about the history and geology of gemstones in Victoria can be found in the book "Gemstones of Victoria" by William D. Birch and Dermot A. Henry, published by Museum Victoria.

The book is available through the Museum Victoria shop here: https://museumvictoria.com.au/about/books-and-journals/books/science/new-releases/gemstones-in-victoria/

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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