‘100 Carats’ Exhibition Opens at LA Museum

SourcingFeb 14, 2024

‘100 Carats’ Exhibition Opens at LA Museum

A new display at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County features dozens of gemstones each weighing 100 carats or more.

Jonker I Diamonds
The 125-carat Jonker I Diamond is the centerpiece of the exhibit. The largest stone cut from the world-famous Jonker Diamond, it has not been on public view for decades. (Photo courtesy of NHMLAC)
Los Angeles—An exhibition featuring rare gemstones weighing at least 100 carats each is on view now at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHMLAC). 

The exhibition, “100 Carats: Icons of the Gem World,” showcases more than 30 gemstones. 

Of those, 20 stones weigh more than 100 carats each. This grouping includes the centerpiece of the collection and one of the largest cut diamonds in the world, the Jonker I Diamond, pictured at the top of the story. 

The 125-carat diamond is the largest stone cut from the Jonker Diamond—the fourth-largest diamond in the world when it was discovered in 1934. The public has not seen this diamond since it was bought by a private buyer in 1977, the museum said.

Though it has been showcased by royalty and Hollywood stars over the years, this is the Jonker I’s first time on display in a museum in more than eight decades, thanks to current owner Ibrahim Al-Rashid, who lent the stone to the museum for the exhibition.

“The Jonker is one of the largest and most famous diamonds ever unearthed,” said Al-Rashid, who is also chairman of Miami-based Limestone Asset Management. 

“Its beauty and history are compelling. I'm grateful to have [The Jonker I] on display for viewers to enjoy for the first time in many decades.”

Also on display, for the first time ever, is the 100.06-carat sapphire, “The Miracle,” which was discovered last year, as mentioned in the promotional video linked below.

The Miracle sapphire
“The Miracle” is making its debut to the public in the “100 Carats” exhibit. (Photo courtesy of NHMLAC)

A variety of other colored gemstones are on view as well, including the “Crown of Colombia,” a 241.04-carat Colombian emerald, and “The Scarlet Red,” a 112.68-carat rubellite.

See The Gemstones 

“The collection presented within ‘100 Carats’ is unrivaled in both importance and rarity within the gem world,” said Dr. Lori Bettison-Varga, president and director of NHMLAC.  

“Gems of such magnificent size and quality have never been displayed before in this quantity in one exhibition. This unique exhibition captures the brilliance of our mineral sciences collection and offers a breathtaking experience for our visitors this winter and beyond.” 

 Related stories will be right here … 

This exhibition was organized by NHMLAC in collaboration with Robert Procop Exceptional Jewels, the collection from which comes, among others, “The Blue Star,” a 108-carat aquamarine, and “The Imperial,” a 111-carat green tourmaline.  

The 100-carat loose stones are displayed inside the museum’s Hixon Gem Vault, and outside the vault, mounted jewelry is on view, featuring pieces with gems weighing 50 to 100 carats. 

While these gems are beautiful and brilliant, the museum said, each gem is also a “minor geologic miracle,” their existence evidence of mountain-building events, volcanic eruptions, and the unforgiving pressures and temperatures of the Earth’s interior.  

This exhibit allows guests and scientists a glimpse into Earth's geological processes and circumstances that happened millions of years ago to form them in the first place, while also illuminating the long and rich history of art and culture through the ages. 

“The show is a once-in-a-lifetime event,” said NHMLAC’s Curator of Mineral Sciences Dr. Aaron Celestian.  

“The rarity of these gems cannot be overstated. Visitors will be able to see tremendous examples of gemstones in a rainbow of vivid colors that have been expertly cut to display their remarkable brilliance. I am thrilled that we’ve been able to bring these giant gems together for the first time.” 

NHM’s 6,000-square-foot Gem and Mineral Hall opened in 1978 and features exhibition halls of minerals, rocks, gems, ores, and meteorites. 

The permanent collection features roughly 175,000 specimens, including fine gem collections from Myanmar (formerly Burma), South Africa, Colombia, Sri Lanka, and other destinations.

The “100 Carats: Icons of the Gem World” exhibit opened Dec. 8, 2023, and will close April 21. Exhibition programming and hours may vary. 

Entrance is included in the price of admission to NHMLAC or free for members. 

More information is available on the museum’s website.  
Lauren McLemoreis the associate editor, gemstones at National Jeweler, covering sourcing, pricing and other developments.

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