A RARE collection of Scottish gemstones is to go on public display at Braemar Castle on Royal Deeside for the first time.
• Braemar Castle to be site of rare collection of Scottish gemstones
• Collection once included the world’s largest Cairngorm, a smoky quartz gemstone weighing nearly 22kg
The exhibition features selected gemstones from the “Cabinet of Curiosities” belonging to the Farquharson family which leased the 350 year-old castle to Braemar Community Ltd, a trust established in the village six years ago to secure its future.
The collection once included the world’s largest Cairngorm, weighing almost 22kg.
A spokeswoman for Braemar Community Ltd said: “The Cairngorms, Britain’s highest and most massive mountain range, is now a protected National Park but in the 1800s diggers trenched 20 acres of the mountains to a depth of six feet in their search for hugely sought-after gemstones – topazes, beryl and smoky quartz, known as Cairngorms.
“Samples of topazes and cairngorms have been specially cut for the display and demonstrate why these stones were in such demand.”
She added: “The stones had been in store since the community of Braemar took over the operation of the castle in 2007 and were in a poor state of curation. Mineralogist, Roy Starkey sorted through over 500
specimens to produce a cabinet of quality stones with a fascinating historical pedigree.”
Mr Starkey said: “Relatively few good examples of Cairngorm quartz survive as mineral specimens. For me, it has been a fascinating exercise. Accessing a collection with this sort of historical provenance is rare
and it’s been rewarding to be able to bring it into the public arena.”
The exhibition opens at the castle on 16 April.
Braemar Castle is the ancient seat of the Earls of Mar and the Invercauld Estate, owners of the 17th-century fortress, agreed to pass the castle into the hands of the local community through a 50-year lease, secured at a peppercorn rent.