Expo: Pierres précieuses

In collaboration with Van Cleef & Arpels, the exhibition at the Grande Galerie de l’Évolution “Precious stones” offers from 16.09.2020 to 14.06.2021 an immersion in several universes intimately linked but rarely united: mineralogy, gemmology and jewelry.

Necklace, diamonds, platinum, 1939, VCA

Precious Stones embraces the centuries-old history of minerals while revealing the skill that humans have used for centuries to serve their brilliance. This approach – both scientific and aesthetic – delves into the origins of the Earth, draws on recent mineralogical discoveries and underscores the interest, passion and even fascination that minerals, gems and jewels have always aroused in most civilizations.

Casket said to belong to Anna of Austria, queen of France, amber,ivory, circa 1680

Through a contemporary scenography, the exhibition brings together more than 500 minerals, gems and works of art from the Museum’s collections and more than 200 gems and jewelery creations from Maison Van Cleef & Arpels. This unprecedented dialogue between mineral, gem and jewel structures the route and immerses the visitor in the history of the Earth, the processes of mineral formation and the latest scientific advances in geosciences. It also allows you to marvel at the most beautiful creations fashioned by the hand of man from natural diversity.

Gem Heliodor, beryl variety, Ukraine

Following a route that is both chronological and thematic, built in three sections, Pierres Précieuses first describes a history of the Earth and of know-how, exploring the original formation of minerals and their use by Man whose skillful gesture is perfects over time.

Fire Opal in Rhyolite , Mexico

Emerald crystal, USA

Then a second part – from minerals to jewelry – explains the natural phenomena that stones, rocks and crystals undergo in the depths of the Earth, before the hand of Man transforms them into jewels. Their transformation is highlighted thanks to some forty display cases, accompanied by thematic stelae, audio-visual and tactile devices, which punctuate the visit and present each species – diamonds, topazes, sapphires, aquamarines … – under three aspects: raw minerals, shaped gems and fine jewelry, thus offering a constant perspective of nature at work.


In its third part, the exhibition recalls the historical, scientific and artistic importance that Paris, a place of knowledge, holds in the advancement and dissemination of knowledge in mineralogy which aesthetes and artists have taken hold of until today.

Panka necklace, yellow gold, diamonds, turquoises, 1973, VCA

Bracelet, saphhire, diamonds, 1973, VCA private collection

Necklace, emeralds, diamonds, platinium, 1929, VCA

Tourmaline’s tree, 1976, Jean Vendôme

The scenography of the exhibition signed by the Jouin Manku agency invites the visitor to discover a universe in movement, with changing colors and materials. The “Precious stones” exhibition is accompanied by a varied program with meetings, workshops, books, conferences and screenings.