New York— The “Brazin Princess,” the worId’s largest cut gem and
twice the size of the next largest jewel, arrived at the American Museum of Natural History Thursday, icy blue and as big as a car headlight.
The 9% pound, 21, 327 carat cut topaz, packed in a bed of sponges, was wheeled into the
American Museum of Natural History followed by guards armed with guns and reporters with cameras.
The topaz was given to the museum by an anonymous donor last month and will be displayed sometime in January. The next largest gem, another topaz, is owned by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
“Needless to say we are very, very pleased,” said George Harlow, museum curator of minerals and gems as he lifted the Brazilian Princess from its nest of sponges in a strongbox.
Crystal clear as glass and a very pale blue in color, the topaz is roughly the size and shape to have strong arms to be a curator of gems,” quipped Harlow, who wore white gloves when handling the stone.
Like any beauty, the Brazilian Princess seems to have a cloudy
past. Museum curators say it was cut from a 75pound crystal discovered in the 1940’s in the eastern mountains of Brazil and bought by gem dealer Edward Swoboda.
It was not until 1976 that the gem industry had the technology need to cut a near flawless gem out of the semiprecious crystal, said Harlow. He said it took a California gem firm over a year to cut its 231 facets.
Harlow said the gem has changed hands several times.
He said topaz is a hard stone that comes in shades of blue, pink and green. Precious topaz is burnt orange in color.
The Brazilian Princess will be displayed under tight security, said museum personnel, who refused to elaborate on what precautions are being taken to protect the gem. In the 1960’s a thief broke into the museum’s gem collection and stole the priceless “Star of India.”
Although curators were not saying how they. will display the gem, they did reveal they have a few innovative ideas.
“We were thinking of having it set as a ring and putting it on the Statue of Liberty as an anniversary present,” said Harlow. “It’s the correct size for her scale.”
Article extracted from this publication >> December 27, 1985