The Smithsonian Institution is currently showing off a visiting diamond, and the Foxfire Diamond is a weird gem because it changes into more than one color when the lights change, not to mention the fact that it is an exceptional size. Fortunately, unlike many famous diamonds, the public will be able to see the Foxfire Diamond on loan from a private collection.
For example, a rare diamond that has an almost perfect VVS1 clarity classification went up for auction in Switzerland in mid-November, and the Sky Blue Diamond will be added to the list of famous gems due to its one-of-a-kind qualities. If it is bought by a public institution, the Sky Blue Diamond might be up for public viewing.
Thankfully for diamond lovers, the Foxfire Diamond is on loan to the Smithsonian from a private collector named Deepak Sheth of Amadena Investments. The Smithsonian is showing the Foxfire Diamond beside their own Hope Diamond from November until February 16, 2017, at the Harry Winston Gallery at the National Museum of Natural History.
There are several good reasons gemstone fans will make the trip to see the Foxfire Diamond for a limited time, and some of those points of interest include that it is considered rare due to its 187.63 carat size — but it is also very odd because it changes colors and even glows in the dark depending on the type of lights used.
For example, Jeffrey Post, curator of the National Gem and Mineral Collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, claims the following.
“One of the interesting properties of this diamond is that if you go in a dark room and turn on a blacklight, it glows bright blue. It lights up the room… when you turn the light off [the diamond] continues to glow. First a deep orange color and then it fades to a creamy white glow.”
The Foxfire Diamond’s origin will also be interesting to diamond historians because it was found above the Arctic Circle instead of a location in South Africa. Currently, the Foxfire Diamond is the largest diamond ever found in North America, and it was found in Diavik Mines.
For example, according to the Royal Collection, the largest diamond ever found was the 3,025.75 carat Cullinan Diamond that was discovered in South Africa in 1905.
By comparison, although it is worth $25 million, a rare blue color, and is an enormous 8.1 carats; the Sky Blue Diamond sounds highly unique, but it does not take the record for highest-priced or largest diamond.
According to CNN, about a year before the Sky Blue Diamond went up for sale, a 12.03 carat blue diamond called The Blue Moon of Josephine was sold for $48.4 million and it was the “world’s most expensive diamond ever sold” until around May 2016 when a 14.62 blue diamond named The Oppenheimer sold for $57.5 million.
They may have many differences, but the Foxfire Diamond and the Sky Blue Diamond are likely to stand the test of time on the celebrity diamond list because, although the Foxfire Diamond is uncut, it is also noted for having a potential for exceptional clarity in addition to being large.
It has been estimated by the Gemstone Institute of America that most of the largest diamonds ever found come from South Africa. Opened in 1903, the Cullinan Mine is still producing huge diamonds. For instance, in 2014, the current owners of Cullinan Mine, Petra Diamonds, announced that they had found a 29.6 carat uncut blue diamond. A few years before, a 25.5 carat uncut blue diamond was found that sold for $17 million.
Other famous diamonds from Cullinan include the 240.8 carat Taylor-Burton diamond, the 755.5 carat Golden Jubilee, the 353.9 carat Premier Rose, and the 599.1 carat Centenary diamond.
Being big or having a rare color are not the only reasons these gems can be famous. For example, alongside the Foxfire Diamond at the Smithsonian will be their Hope Diamond — and this is a stone with a significant amount of related lore.
The tale of the Hope Diamond began in Europe around 1660 after it was allegedly stolen from a statue in India depicting Sita, according to Cape Town Diamond Museum. Mental Floss claims this is why the Hope Diamond carries a curse.
Although the initial ownership of the Hope Diamond is unclear, it is assumed that the original uncut 112 carat Hope Diamond was found at the Kollur Mine in Golconda, India.
When the Hope Diamond made its way to Europe, it was purchased by Jean Baptiste Tavernier in France. He sold the Hope Diamond a few years later to King Louis XIV in 1668.
At that time, the Hope Diamond was cut down to 67-carats in 1673 by the French court stone cutter, Sieur Pitau. Often used by the kings during ceremonies, in 1749, the stone was part of the treasury of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. During the French Revolution of 1792, the Hope Diamond was stolen.
Over the years, the Hope Diamond has had several owners such as London diamond merchant, Daniel Eliason (1812), King George IV of England (1830), and Henry Philip Hope (1839).
After exchanging hands several times throughout the 1900’s, the Hope Diamond finally found a resting place at the Smithsonian Museum in 1958 where it still remains.
The Foxfire Diamond’s ability to shine like the aurora borealis it was named after makes it special, but diamond tourists might not be aware of the most unique diamond ring of all. In 2012, Swiss jeweler, Mohamed Shawish, created the first diamond ring made entirely of diamonds with no gold or other metals.
According to his website, Mohamed Shawish made the ring out of a 150 carat diamond. The ring was valued at $68 million, and specialized lasers were created to cut the stone. To date, this famous diamond ring has not been sold.
For diamond lovers that have always wanted one of their own, the good news is that a major retailer is using a pair of stud earrings as a free gift. According to the Amazon website, as part of their 2016 Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, customers will get a free pair of diamond studs “with $200 purchase of select jewelry.”
For more information about the Foxfire Diamond and Hope Diamond display in Washington D.C., consult the Smithsonian website.
[Feature Image of the 1109-carat Lesedi La Rona Diamond by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]