Gem of the Ocean is play by Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson; it is set in 1904 at 1839 Wylie Avenue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's Hill District.
It is the first installment of his decade-by-decade, ten-play chronicle, often called The Pittsburgh Cycle, dramatizing the African-American experience in the twentieth century.
Set at the turn of the century when slavery is still a recent memory, Aunt Esther, the drama’s 287-year-old fiery matriarch, welcomes into her Hill District home Solly Two Kings, who was born into slavery and scouted for the Union Army, and Citizen Barlow, a young man from Alabama searching for a new life. Citizen Barlow is in search of redemption. Aunt Esther is not too old to heal, and she guides him on a soaring, lyrical journey of spiritual awakening to the City of Bones.
The play's title alludes to a patriotic hymn then popular in America, Columbia, Gem of the Ocean.
Ben Brantley of The New York Times wrote of the play: “A swelling battle hymn of transporting beauty. Theatergoers who have followed August Wilson’s career will find in Gem a touchstone for everything else he has written".