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The world's largest Emerald on Matrix specimen

Last Updated: 7th Jul 2008

By Jolyon Ralph

Today I visited an exhibition in Hong Kong showing what is claimed to be the world's largest specimen of Emerald on Matrix. Excavated in July 2007 in Morafeno, Madagascar from an emerald mine - the specimen has been kept intact and brought to Hong Kong this June. It is now exhibiting at the Baoqu Tang Modern Art Gallery, as a natural work of art.

The specimen is 125cm x 78cm x 55cm and weighs an impressive 536kg!

For a much better view of the specimen, click on the photo above and then click where it says 'Click here for higher-resolution version' - it's a very large image but when you scroll around it you'll see all the detail and the quality of the crystals.

A close-up of some of the crystals exposed on the surface. Several of them are very gemmy.

Again, a higher-resolution version of this picture is available.

Here's a close up of the close up, showing some of the more gemmy Emerald crystals

This single specimen is now being displayed in an exhibition at the gallery, which is in the mall area connected to the InterContinental Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong. An impressive display has been put on alongside the piece, detailing the specimen, the find, and the artist's views on the piece, which he has named "Shaw Tian Pai Liu" (or "Gift from Heaven")

A view of the exhibition area, documenting the find and the artist's views on the piece

The specimen is displayed on a custom plinth with a security guard in attendance, and behind screen doors that open and close every few minutes - partly to give the security guard a chance to relax, but also I imagine it is aimed to give people a sense of wonder when the doors open to reveal the Emeralds.

Visitors viewing the Emerald specimen in the display gallery

The gallery is fascinating for many reasons - firstly because it's the first time I have seen a single mineral specimen being exhibited and promoted as if it were a highly-valued piece of artwork rather than a scientific curiosity. I think that it works very well in not just conveying the beauty of the specimen as a mineralogical treasure, but also how it works as the artistic inspiration for a series of paintings by artist Chan Sicpo.

Chan was born in China in 1929, but escaped the Japanese invasion at age 10 and was sent to live with the Chinese community in Madagascar, where he still lives. His artwork has now been exhibited across the globe. When he saw the emerald specimen, he realised it had the same shape, colours and textures to the nearby and beautiful Reunion Island, which inspired him to do a series of paintings based on the colours and textures of the island. This collection of paintings has been exhibited before, but this is the first time that the specimen that inspired them has been exhibited. Below is a view of how the artist imagined the specimen as the volcanic island - from the wall display in the exhibition.

"Emerald on Matrix or Mineral Reunion Island"

And finally, could this be the most impressive advertising for a single mineral specimen ever? Here is how the exhibition is promoted nearby (photo snapped quickly from the top of a bus after visiting!)

Banners promoting the display shown at the nearby New World Center - 6.5 floors high!

It's hoped that the specimen will eventually end up in a major Chinese museum and the gallery is actively looking for sponsors who may be able to help this happen. In the meantime there is a strong possibility that the specimen may be exhibited beyond Hong Kong - it would be nice to see this displayed in Munich and/or Tucson and I hope the gallery can find a way to arrange this.

The current exhibition in Hong Kong will run at least until the end of July although they are prepared to extend this if the interest remains as high as it is now. If you're in the area then why not visit:

Emerald on Matrix Exhibition
Baoqu Tang Modern Art Gallery
L153, 156-159 InterContinental Hong Kong,
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Entrance is free.

Article has been viewed at least 45096 times.

Discuss this Article

5th Jul 2008 22:11 BSTGail Spann Manager

I think I heard you mention Ida knew of this piece when you were visiting the States Jolyon, it is quite impressive!
If it gets in the hands of some American dealers it will be a nice group of miniatures, thumbnails and perhaps a small cab by the time they get through with it! Quick, hide it!!!!

7th Jul 2008 15:56 BSTJesse Fisher Expert

The fact that large specimens like that routinely get turned into small ones has little to do with American delaers, and a lot to do with the fact that no one will buy large specimens here. We have removed a number of fluorite plates from the Rogerley that were of a similar size. Originally, we would go to the expense of shipping them back intact and displaying them at Tucson. As we were unable to sell a single one, they now get cut up into smaller pieces, which sell readily.

11th Jul 2008 15:58 BSTGail Spann Manager

My comment was an attempt at teasing one dealer in particular that I know well. He loves to trim everything and it was my way of poking fun at him. I agree that huge pieces don't fit in display cabinets too well and it is a good way to remove broken crystals, etc.
I do,however, lament when I see some of what our pieces looked like before, what I consider, overtrimming. Anyhow, my comment was meant on the "lighter side" of seriousness?

17th Jul 2008 15:55 BSTLyla J. Tracy

Jolyon, Very interesting article, thank you very much. Lyla
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