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

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

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

 

 

 

 

Country-pop singer, Lizzie Sider sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to perform songs from her new album, “Butterfly,” and to talk about her anti-bullying tour.