The world’s largest cut topaz, called the American Topaz, resides at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. A 172-faceted topaz weighing 22,892.50 carats (5785 kg), it’s the largest cut yellow topaz in the world, and one of the largest faceted gems of any kind in the world. Originating from Minais Gerais, Brazil, it was cut over a period of two years. It was purchased by the Rockhound Hobbyists of America and presented to the Smithsonian Institution in 1988.
As stunning as this cut topaz is, another display at the Smithsonian is equally dazzling and awe-inspiring. That’s a sherry-colored topaz “spray” from the Thomas Range in Utah. This color of topaz can be found in Mexico and Utah, but when it’s exposed to sunlight, will become clear.
Other spectacular displays of natural crystals include a cluster of Stibnite, an ore of antimony, which has a bright metallic luster. This spectacular group of crystals is from Iyo, Japan and look like something from Superman’s home!
Another huge mineral in the exhibit is the Smithsonite, named for James Smithson, who bequeathed the funds to establish the Smithsonian Institution. He first discovered this greenish zinc carbonate mineral from the Kelly Mine in New Mexico.
Some of the other don’t miss items in the Smithsonian’s Gem Collection are the Smithsonian Canary Diamond, a huge canary and diamond ring. The 98.6-carat Bismarck Sapphire is also part of the collection and is one of the world’s largest sapphires. It originally came from Sri Lanka.
It’s also fascinating to see some of these gems in their raw uncut state, such as the large corundrum crystal which is the mineral that sapphires are made of, and a very large beryl crystal, from which the emerald and aquamarine family of stones is derived.
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Diamond! What is it? My own immediate response to that answer is a gem that is every bit as radiant and brilliant in appearance as anything you've ever seen. An illustrious gem. I make this statement based upon my own observation and belief that it is the most distinguished of all the gems I have beheld. Additionally, it is rather difficult to escape the luster which is conferred by diamond.
Its is luminous and bright in the palm of my hand or embedded in a ring, pendant or as it is situated on a velvet cloth. Mine is not the description of a jeweler, miner or stone cutter but merely an admirer with an eye for beauty and diamond as my birthstone. I therefore set out to learn what diamond professionals had to say about one particular diamond.
My objective was to find more than just a diamond I wanted to locate the largest, most beautiful and superb diamond in the world. "The peerless 'king of gems' that glitters, dazzles and symbolizes purity and strength". This description was bestowed on such a diamond by the American Museum of Natural History during a November 1, 1997 – August 30, 1998 exhibition.
According to the museum's 'The Nature of Diamond's' Web page display, "It is after diamond is presented to the King in 1997 that it receives its identity." The king referred to is King Bhumibol of Thailand and the name bestowed was the "Golden Jubilee” - named for the occasion on which it was presented to him as a gift to celebrate his 50th anniversary as reigning king of that country.
Golden Jubilee was not always the polished, impressively sized, rich golden-yellow colored diamond however. Accomplish this result required the talent of a skilled stone cutter combined with state-of-the-art stone cutting technology. According to the Antique Jewelry University there was only one man skillful enough to be entrusted with the task of transforming the diamond from a rough brown diamond which weighed 755.50 carats (151g) upon its discovery in 1985 to the polished weight of 545.67 carats (109.13g). which is the present weight.
"Gabi Tolkowsky, the great nephew of Marcel Tolkowsky - the inventor of the modern round brilliant" was the stone cutter chosen to work on the diamond and the technology provided by De Beers which at the time "...regarded this as an opportunity to test new cutting technologies. With the success of this new technology in cutting the future Golden Jubilee diamond the same knowledge could later be used in the cutting of the Centenary Diamond, a smaller (273.85 carats) but a much more obviously beautiful flawless and colorless rough diamond".
The meticulous work lasted a full two years and finished in May of 1990, at which point "...Tolkowsky dubbed his new creation a 'Fire-Rose cushion-shape' having 55 crown facets, 64 pavilion facets and 24 girdle facets, all perfectly symmetrical. Tolkowsky’s skillful hands had miraculously taken a rough brown diamond and coaxed from it a stone with a rich golden-yellow color." Golden Jubilee, the world's largest and most impeccably polished diamond is what I set out to find learned that it currently resides in the crown jewels of Thailand's King.
Of course Golden Jubilee was not always the largest diamond in the world, the title was previous held by "Cullinan I or the First Star of Africa" which was "530.2 carats (106.0g) and at the time was "...the largest polished diamond in the world..." as indicated on Wikipedia and retained the "largest polished diamond" title until 1985 when it was rendered to second largest position by The Golden Jubilee.
Gem cutting! What is it? And how it has changed over the years (50% of the original rough diamond is lost during the cutting of a round brilliant gem). How does a lump of mineral or crystal become a dazzling diamond, ruby or sapphire? It’s an amazing process called gem cutting or lapidary and makes all the difference in the final value of the stone.
The Many Colors of Gems
Gems come in every color of the spectrum. While sapphires, rubies and emeralds are what come to mind first when one thinks of a colored gem, there are so many other beautiful colored gemstones to consider. Even among gems normally associated with one color, there are gradations and variations to them. A sapphire, for example, comes in many different hues of blue, depending on where it’s from. But sapphires can also come in pink, yellow and green.
Around the world there are many diamonds that have been talked about or written about in various stories and official documents. Famous diamonds are part of our world's history, and have been found in various parts of the world, by all types of people. From royalty to the gods, famous diamonds are often as well known as the people who owned them. For centuries diamonds, famous or otherwise, were used in the armor of warriors and the crowns of our kings and queens as a symbol of fearlessness, some of which historic mentions follow:
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