News / Arts & Entertainment

New Gem Upstages Smithsonian's Hope Diamond

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

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the latest edition of "Beyond Category" blues singer and guitarist Corey Harris performs with his band and talks about his travels in West Africa tracing the roots of the blues.