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Museum now home to North America’s Largest Emeralds

For immediate release—March 16, 2012
Education, Science, Features editors
Contact: Emelia.Cowans@naturalsciences.org
919.733.7450, x305

Wearing the Green: North America’s Largest Emeralds to Find Home at North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

Collection of rare emeralds and Hiddenite from anonymous donor to go on public display in New Wing, April 20, 2012

Carolina Emperor emerald, photo by Jeff Scovil(Raleigh) — Four of the largest emeralds ever found in North America form the brilliant centerpieces of a gem and minerals collection donated to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Museum officials announced Friday, March 16, 2012.

The gift of an anonymous donor, the rare collection will be housed in the Nature Research Center, the new wing of the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, scheduled to open April 20 in downtown Raleigh.

“We are preserving a natural treasure for the citizens of North Carolina. Finally, the people will be able to see these breathtaking emeralds that were found right here in our state, in our own state museum,” said Dr. Betsy Bennett, director of the Museum. Discovered in a vein one year ago to the day, in Alexander County, N.C., three of the emeralds are stunning, rare and brilliant uncut specimens weighing 1225 carats, 685.5 carats and 591.5 carats.

In addition, the collection includes the largest cut emerald in North America, the famed “Carolina Emperor.” At 64 carats, it is four times larger than the previous largest cut emerald and is of higher quality than any other emerald ever found in North America. This magnificent gem is styled after the emerald once owned by Catherine the Great of Russia.  It was found in 2009.

The gems all were found by Terry Ledford on the Wren Adams property in Alexander County in western North Carolina.  “I guess it’s just the luck of the Irish that led me to this vein on the eve of St. Patty’s day.  These hills are magical and these gems are truly stunning,” said Ledford.

Jeff Schlottman, an international expert in rocks and minerals commented, “These gems represent a fabulous collection.  They are some of the largest, finest, best-formed and best-quality gems I have seen in my career.”  In addition to the emeralds, several rare pieces of Hiddenite round out the collection.

Interviews available with Dr. Betsy Bennett, Director, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Terry Ledford, and Jeff R. Schlottman.  For more information contact Emelia Cowans at emelia.cowans@naturalsciences.org or 919.733.7450, x305.  High resolution images available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/naturalsciences/sets/72157629227742410/.

Publish Date: 
Friday, March 16, 2012