News / Arts & Entertainment

New Gem Upstages Smithsonian's Hope Diamond

Smithsonian Unveils Sparkling New Attractioni
|| 0:00:00
X
Susan Logue
December 07, 2012 11:29 PM
The Hope Diamond has long been the undisputed star of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, but it's being upstaged by a new gem. Visitors vied with media to capture the historic moment as museum director Kirk Johnson unveiled the latest addition to its mineral collection, the Dom Pedro Aquamarine. Susan Logue has more for VOA.

Smithsonian Unveils Sparkling New Attraction

Susan Logue
— The Hope Diamond has long been the undisputed star of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, but it's being upstaged by a new gem.

Visitors vied with media to capture the historic moment as museum director Kirk Johnson unveiled the latest addition to its mineral collection, the Dom Pedro Aquamarine.

“It’s 10,363 carats, which is what they call bling, serious bling,” Johnson said.

The blue-green crystal, a relative of the emerald, is carved into an obelisk that stands more than 35 centimeters high and weighs 2 kilograms. It is the largest cut and polished gem aquamarine in the world, says Jeffrey Post, curator of the museum’s mineral collection.
The obelisk-shaped Dom Pedro gem, the world's largest cut aquamarine gem, will go on display at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington. The crystal was mined in Brazil in the late 1980s and is named for Brazil's first two emperThe obelisk-shaped Dom Pedro gem, the world's largest cut aquamarine gem, will go on display at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington. The crystal was mined in Brazil in the late 1980s and is named for Brazil's first two emper
x
The obelisk-shaped Dom Pedro gem, the world's largest cut aquamarine gem, will go on display at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington. The crystal was mined in Brazil in the late 1980s and is named for Brazil's first two emper
The obelisk-shaped Dom Pedro gem, the world's largest cut aquamarine gem, will go on display at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington. The crystal was mined in Brazil in the late 1980s and is named for Brazil's first two emper

“It is very rare, very unusual for any mineral to produce a crystal the size and the quality that can result in cutting the Dom Pedro.”

And most would be cut into wearable gems, like the popular Hope Diamond.

But German gem artist Bernd Munsteiner, who carved the obelisk, told Post he didn’t want to do that.

“I said, 'Why did you cut something big, why not just cut it into gemstones?'” Post recalls his answer was, “‘What nature makes large, man should not make small.’”

Munsteiner created the Dom Pedro from a crystal that weighed 27 kilograms. He used a technique that he pioneered, called the fantasy cut. Channels are carved into the stone, instead of the usual facets on the outside. The result is a gem that appears to glow from within.  

“And that gem traveled around,” Post says. “In fact, it represented the German government for some period of time at gem shows in Europe.  And then, one of the owners was considering having it cut up to get his money out of it right away.”

“When I heard it was going to be cut up for jewelry stones, I thought that would be such a loss,” says American gem collector Jane Mitchell.

She and her husband, Jeffrey Bland, stepped forward and purchased the stone. “We had no desire to hold on to it privately. We felt it should strike awe in as many people as could be.”

That’s why they donated the Dom Pedro to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. With 7.4 million visitors last year, it is the most popular museum in the United States, due - in large part - to the Hope Diamond.

Now visitors have another breathtaking reason to come here.

You May Like

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Walter Johnson
December 11, 2012 5:49 AM
Having seen the Hope Diamond once, I believe this gem is more spectacular because of the channeling to bring in light. Maybe the Smithsonian's next addition should be a man metamaterial built object of intricate and nana scale design. Every museum must periodically add something of value to maintain a steady stream of visitors.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings

Los Angeles singer-songwriter Irene Diaz has a modern pop take on the jazz torch-song tradition. She sat down with Larry London on this edition of "Border Crossings" to perform and talk about her music.