Organic gems are a select group of gem materials derived from living or once-living organisms. Organic gems include: amber, coral, ivory jet, pearl, and certain types of shell, such as tortoise shell and mother of pearl. The Museum has several types of organic gems on display.
Ivory: The Last Supper
The ivory Last Supper was carved in Italy in the 19th century and is based on Leonardo da Vinci’s painting. The groups of disciples were individually fashioned and set into the base with pegs. The Latin inscription on the base translates: “One of you this night will betray me.”
Amber is the fossilized resin of trees that lived at least 30 million years ago. It ranges in color from light yellow to deep reddish-brown to dark blue and often contains remnants of plants or insects. Created from a single piece of amber, “The Harvest” was carved in Italy in the late 1800’s and depicts a Roman family rejoicing in a successful harvest.