Grinding and polishing precious stones, Oberstein's main industry for centuries.  Records go back to 1531 for one of the oldest "Schleifereien" known as "Weiherschleife" right outside of Oberstein.  Gems are still ground here as they
were in the old days, only now it's a tourist attraction.  Just
like in old grain mills, the grindstones are driven by run-
ning water ('Weiher' is German for pond and 'Schleife' in
this context means a place for grinding and/or polishing). 
Once upon a time, my paternal grandfather did this for a
living.  The work was extremely hazarduous (dust in the
lungs) and uncomfortable and hard on the rest of the body,
too.  These men seldom lived to a ripe old age. 
Above: The picturesque outside of the Weiherschleife.
Oberstein's Main Industries:
Precious Stones
and Tourism
The "Heimatmuseum" in the Market
Square at the foot of the Church in
the Rocks, where visitors can admire
the things that made Oberstein
famous.  The exhibits inlcude many
precious and semi-precious gems 
and precious jewelry crafted by local
artisans (like the fish at left, made
entirely from Brasilian Agate), an
exhibit of some of the world's most
famous gems, painstakingly recreated
in crystal; one of the world's largest
collection of minerals from all over
the globe; a collection of postage stamps from around the world depicting gems; and of course materials documenting the history of the town. 
Below: The Hall of Crystals
This Museum on Main Street displays almost 10,000 gem-stone varieties from all over the world in an elegant old building that was formerly a private residence.  Next to cut gemstones and diamonds are artfully crafted sculptures and engravings as well as spectacular mineral specimens.  The exhibition begins with minerals and rocks from the Oberstein region, found and worked more than 500 years ago; of particular importance here are agate and jasper.  Following the regional exhibition is a systematic display of the museum's mineralogical collection of nearly every known cut gemstone variety.  Texts and graphics explain how gemological identification is made.  Exquisite examples of both the classic and more recently-discovered gemstones can be viewed on the first floor:  Diamond, ruby, sapphire, emerald, aquamarine, peridot, spinel, tanzanite, garnet and multi-colored tourmaline.
      The second floor houses an ever-growing collection of engravings, cameos and hollowed out vases and dishes documenting the master expertise of many generations of gemstone cutters and engravers of the Idar-Oberstein district.   Gemstones used for technical and industrial purposes are also displayed here.
      In the museum vault, guest exhibitions of special gem- stone topics are regularly scheduled, often in collaboration with other leading museums around the world.
A nearby mine (Steinkaulenberg)
open to tourists.
Many of these picturesque houses (Fachwerkhaus) remain in the old part of town, at the foot of the Church in the Rocks.  As behooves a tourist town, the main entrance of this one leads straight into a souvenier shop.
A monument to the men who, with
their backbreaking labour, brought
fame and fortune to the city.

Photo courtesy Wolfgang Sauer, used with permission
The German Gemstone Museum
This page created February 2001 by Valkyrie
If my scanner were less crappy, one might see every little nuance in the fish, like scales and fine bones,  running through the fins, etc.
Thanks, Mom, for
sending the picture
postcards ... Love ya!!!!
Entrance Page
(Gems & Jewelry), Museums
An Oberstein Original and the Danger Zone The Legend of the Church in the Rocks
Autumn Memories A Family Picture Album Dedication to My Mother Guestbook
A Sweet German Tradition: The "Schultuete" A German Christmas Remembered The Brandenbug Gate, Midnight, 12/31/99 to 01/01/00 HOME (contents)