Invitation to the voyage: Travel with Minerals

November 6 - 25, 2017 in Dubai

One of the cabinets at the Dubai Design District for the "Invitation to the voyage" exhibit, during the Nomad School of the Ecole Van Cleef & Arpels. Copyright & photo by C.G.

 

Taking place during the first Nomad School of L'Ecole Van Cleef & Arpels in Dubai, the exhibit "INVITATION TO THE VOYAGE: TRAVEL WITH MINERALS" is organized by the Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech in collaboration with L'Ecole. The five display cases presented are more than just a "Cabinet de Curiosités": they tell stories and take us through astonishing peregrinatins. Through the display, the visitor is invited to travel in time, matter, space, through science and technology and of course, with jewelry.

 

Find the exhibit brochure by clicking here, or a short presentation of a few items exhibited below.

 

1- JOURNEY THROUGH MATTER

Minerals are made of atoms organized in crystalline structures. Mineralogists define seven crystallographic systems. The abbot Haüy, first curator of the mineral collection at the “école des Mines” since 1794, is considered the father of crystallography.

Pyrite. Thanks to the observation of large crystals, Haüy understood the notion of the “integral molecule”, which, for him, constituted the primary building block of a mineral. One can easily understand by looking at pyrite crystals that this mineral crystallizes into the cubic system.

PYRITE. Huanzala, Huallanca, Dos de Mayo, Peru (#16512). Natural aggregate of striated cubes of pyrite. This iron sulfide crystallizes into the cubic system and often display a cubic shape, with a metallic gold luster.  Copyright Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech, photo E. Gaillou.

 

René Just Haüy (1743-1822). Painting of René Just Haüy, displayed at the Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech. Haüy is holding a crystal of calcite. Copyright Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech, photo D. Nectoux. 

 

 

2- JOURNEY THROUGH SPACE

Meteorites tell us the history of the solar system and the structure of planet Earth. Their mineralogical composition and the absence of alterations allow us to go back in time to the origin of planets.

 

SANTA CATHARINA & ESQUEL METEORITES. These meteorites are special as they represent the core (Santa Catharina) and the mantle (Esquel) of a proto-planet. They can be dated to over 4 billion years. Just as for other planets, the core of the Earth is mostly composed of iron and nickel (such as Santa Catharina), while the mantle is a mixture between metallic and silicic components (such as Esquel).

 

Esquel Meteorite. The Esquel meteorite was discovered in Argentina in 1951 and has been named the “most beautiful of all meteorites”. One can indeed recognized that this polish slice is spectacular, compared to the usual dull or metallic grey of most other meteorites. Gemmy greenish-yellow crystals of olivine are bathing within a mixture of iron and nickel. The mixture corresponds to the mineralogical composition that could be found at the core-mantle boundary in the deep interior of planets. Some of the olivine crystals are used in the jewelry industry as the “oldest gems in existence”, as they are older than 4 billion years old. 

ESQUEL PALLASITE METEORITE. Esquel, Futaleufu, Chubut, Argentina (#76760). Polish plate of an Esquel pallasite meteorite. Yellowish-green crystals of olivine are mixed within the metallic, iron- and nickel-rich part of the meteorite. Copyright Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech, photo E. Gaillou.

 

 

3- JOURNEY THROUGH TECHNOLOGY

All objects around us come from the Earth. The transformation of rocks and minerals into manufactured objects takes us through the history of humanity, grand discoveries and the evolution of science and technology.

 

Wolframite. Wolframite is the main ore for tungsten (chemical symbol W for wolfram) meaning “heavy rock” in Swedish. Here, we are talking about the chemical element with the highest melting point (3422°C). Its compounds and alloys are highly prized for its resistance to high temperatures (armaments, aerospace, industrial furnaces, lamp filaments).

FERBERITE (Wolframite group). Panasqueira, Fundao, Covilha, Castelo Branco, Portugal (#16764). This association of crystals of metallic-looking ferberite, belonging to the group of wolframite minerals, are covered with white calcite. Copyright Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech, photo E. Gaillou.

 

 

4- JOURNEY THROUGH ARTS

Sometimes, it is hard to believe that some minerals are not the results of an artist’s talent as the shapes and colors look to have been picked up carefully. However, these minerals are 100% natural.

 

Sepiolite. This clay mineral can aggregate into very light nodular masses that float on water. This is the reason why it has been named “Meerschaum”, derived from the German word meaning “foam of the sea”. The name sepiolite comes from the Greek sêpion, meaning “cuttlebone”. The nodules are found in the deposit of Eskisehir in Turkey, which, once removed from their crust, give some astonishing shapes evocating some manmade sculptures.

SEPIOLITE. Sari Sou, Yarimca,Eskisehir, Turkey (#6280). This globular looking rock is made of a natural aggregation of tiny sepiolite minerals. Copyright Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech, photo E. Gaillou.

 

Calcite on quartz and chalcopyrite. The contrast between the creamy elongated calcite and the white quartz covered with chalcopyrite is striking. The chalcopyrite shows off all kind of colors, red, blue, purple, green, due to iridescence. The shape and harmony are so perfect that it is hard to believe this association is perfectly natural.

CALCITE on chalcopyrite and quartz. Sweetwater Mine, Ellington, Reynolds Co., Missouri, USA. (#74141). Large and elongated (scalenohedral) crystal of calcite on white quartz and iridescent chalcopyrite. Copyright Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech, photo E. Gaillou.

 

Stibnite. For long, stibnite was the main source of antimony. Today, it is mostly a by-product of lead ore treatment. It enters into the composition of Kohl (silvery grey eye make-up) that was already produced during the ancient Egypt and is still now widely world-spread and produced. 

STIBNITE. Ichinokawa Mine,Saijo, Ehime. Japan (#1574). Sheaf crystallization of stibnite. This antimony sulfide can show off impressive sword looking crystals. Copyright Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech, photo E. Gaillou.

 

 

5- JOURNEY THROUGH JEWELRY

The varieties of gemmy minerals –those suitable in jewelry- have always inspired men to design jewels and ornaments. Throughout civilizations, their purity and colors have symbolized alchemical virtues.

 

Beryl. The word « beryllos » would mean “crystal that has the color of the sea”. The varieties of this mineral offer many colorations: iron gives its blue to aquamarine and its yellow to heliodor, manganese its pink to morganite and red to bixbite, and chromium its green to emerald, which is the most precious variety.

BERYL var. Aquamarine. Governador Valadares, Minas Gerais, Brazil (#11067). Monocrystal of gemmy aquamarine, showing the typical elongated hexagonal shape of beryl, with some natural etching on some faces. The color and purity of this natural crystal makes it an extraordinary example of its kind. Copyright Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech, photo E. Gaillou.

 

BERYL var. Emerald, Muzo, Boyaca, Colombia (#4742). Perfect gemmy emerald crystals that grew on top of white calcite in a carbon-rich schist rock. Copyright Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech, photo E. Gaillou.

 

 

THE EXHIBIT IN DUBAI

Inside the Nomadic School of L'Ecole Van Cleef & Arpels, five exhibits are set up for the duration of the School, including our exhibit: "Invitation to the Voyage: travel with minerals".

Overall view of the exhibit, with the five display cases. Copyright Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech, photo E. Gaillou.

The main entrance of the exhibit. Copyright Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech, photo E. Gaillou.

 

The first display case: "a journey through matter". Copyright Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech, photo E. Gaillou.

 

Natural art pieces. Copyright Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech, photo E. Gaillou.

 

Usefull minerals: tungsten and copper minerals. Copyright Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech, photo E. Gaillou.

 

Beryl and garnet: minerals used in jewelry. Copyright Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech, photo E. Gaillou.

 

Thanks to all who supported this exhibit in Dubai. Copyright Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech, photo E. Gaillou.

 

 

THE CAMPUS OF L'ECOLE VAN CLEEF & ARPELS

For three weeks, this area of the Dubai Design District was transformed to welcome the Nomadic Campus of l'Ecole Van Cleef & Arpels and the five temporary exhibits it hosted. 

All campus photos: Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech / E. Gaillou.

 

 

THE OTHER EXHIBITS OF THE NOMADIC SCHOOL

The Nomadic School of L'Ecole Van Cleef & Arpels hosted five different temporary exhibits, including ours. In a few photos, here are the other four.

 

THROUGH THE EYES OF A CONNOISSEUR

A private collection of jewels from a Middle-Eastern conoisseur and jewelry lover.

Overview of the Connoisseur's exhibit. Photo: Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech / E. Gaillou.

 

Ruby, diamond and platinum bangle by Boucheron, 1937. Photo: Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech / E. Gaillou.

 

Emerald, diamond and pearl necklace, with a detachable clip, Cartier (1930 and 2006). Photo: Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech / E. Gaillou.

 

Infinite Abundance necklace by Tabbah, 2012 (diamond, sapphire set in gold). Photo: Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech / E. Gaillou.

 

Circle Arc ear-clips, Sabba, 2013 (diamond and pink sapphire, set in gold). Photo: Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech / E. Gaillou.

 

Unsigned necklace, circa 1960, diamond set in gold. Photo: Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech / E. Gaillou.

 

PEARLS AND JEWELS OF THE GULF

Through a long tradition of natural pearls used in jewelry, this exhibit retraces the origine of pearl diving and selling in the Gulf area. 

Some natural pearls from the Gulf. Photo: Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech / E. Gaillou.

Some natural pearls from the Gulf. Photo: Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech / E. Gaillou.

Some natural pearls from the Gulf. Photo: Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech / E. Gaillou.

 

Narural pearl, ruby and diamond brooch, from a private collection. Photo: Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech / E. Gaillou.

 

Natural pearl necklace, private collection.  Photo: Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech / E. Gaillou.

 

Sapphire and natural pearl necklace, private collection.  Photo: Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech / E. Gaillou.

 

 
EMIRATI ADORNMENT: TANGIBLE & INTANGIBLE

This exhibit presents some Emirati ornaments thanks to a project started in 2011 untitled "Lest we forget" and that produces annual exhibitions.

In the foreground, a display of patriotic jewelry from the Emirates. In the background a portrait of 50 ladies through their burqua. Photo: Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech / E. Gaillou.

 

Bedouin Silver Jewelry, early 20th century. Photo: Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech / E. Gaillou.

 

DESIGNER AWARD: GROWTH

A legacy program supported by Van Cleef & Arpels. Young designers had to create concepts around the theme of growth. Among the designers choosen, 8 were able to propose a project, and 3 were elected winners.

The Van Cleef & Arpels Legacy program in Dubai, through the theme of growth. Photo: Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech / E. Gaillou.

 

The first place winner: a craddle that transforms into a love seat Photo: Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech / E. Gaillou.

 

DUBAI AND ITS INCREDIBLE BUILDINGS

Hosted downtown Dubai, the campus was close by the downtown Burj Khalifa.

The highest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa with its 829 m high and 163 floors. Copyright Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech, photo E. Gaillou.

 

Burj Khalifa by night with the Win, Victory and Love statue. Copyright Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech, photo E. Gaillou.

 

Next to the Burj Khalifa, the beautiful opera building. Copyright Mineralogy Museum MINES ParisTech, photo E. Gaillou.

 

Invitation to the voyage - Temporary exhibit - MINES ParisTech
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