The Lester and Sue Smith Gem Vault opens today and is packed with some of the most eye-popping jewels you'll likely ever see, from sapphires and opals to emeralds and diamonds. The exhibit is the result of a decade-long search for precious stones around the world, and now they've found a permanent home at the museum. Houston jewelry designer Ernesto Moreira created about a dozen finished pieces with the gems.
"The setting is incredible. You know, it's all basically in the dark and these pieces, the gems and the jewelry pieces are floating in mid-air it seems like, because they are the only things lit inside the space."
Some of the larger stones were too big to set and are displayed loose, showcasing precise cutting that was done in Germany. Moreira says the exhibit shows gems from start to finish.
"The public will be able to see what happens when you take out a mineral from underground, what happens after that is cut, a cut gem and then what happens when one of those is mounted into jewelry. So it's the full picture, which is fantastic."
The exhibit opens today and will be part of the museum's existing Cullen Hall Gem and Mineral Collection.