Jonker I Diamond, photo courtesy of NHMLAC
Exhibition features 30+ gemstones, including the world-famous Jonker I Diamond,
which has not been on public view in decades
Los Angeles, CA (November 20, 2023) — This winter, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM) presents 100 Carats: Icons of the Gem World. This exhibition will invite guests into NHM’s renowned Hixon Gem Vault for a one-of-a-kind show featuring over two dozen gems, 20 of which are more than 100 carats, and each is a stunning example of its type.
“The collection presented within 100 Carats is unrivaled in both importance and rarity within the gem world,” says 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.”
The centerpiece of the exhibition is the Jonker I Diamond, the largest stone cut from the Jonker Diamond — the fourth largest diamond in the world when it was found in 1934 — and weighing in at 125 carats, which places it among the largest cut diamonds in the world. This historic gem has passed through the hands of global royalty and Hollywood stars but has not been on display at a museum for more than eight decades. In fact, the public has not seen this diamond since it was bought by a private buyer in 1977. Now, owner Ibrahim Al-Rashid has lent the Jonker I Diamond to NHM for display in this exhibition.
“The Jonker is one of the largest and most famous diamonds ever unearthed,” says Al-Rashid, who is also chairman of Miami-based Limestone Asset Management. “Its beauty and history are compelling. I’m grateful to have it on display for viewers to enjoy for the first time in many decades.”
Among the other iconic gems in the exhibition is an incredible cornflower blue sapphire, a massive 241-carat emerald known as the “Crown of Colombia,” as well as jewelry from master jeweler Robert Procop. As the name would imply, each of the gemstones on display in the Hixon Gem Vault measures at least 100 carats in weight, creating an unbelievably rare and colorful assortment of world-class gems in both size and quality.
Aside from their beauty and brilliance, these gems also tell the scientific story of the history of our planet. They provide an unparalleled glimpse into geological processes and circumstances that happened millions of years ago to form them in the first place and show how every gem is a minor geologic miracle. Their existence is evidence of massive mountain-building events, violent volcanic eruptions, and the unforgiving pressures and temperatures of the Earth’s interior. Gems like the ones displayed in 100 Carats allow guests and scientists alike to better understand Earth’s dynamics and processes while illuminating the long and rich history of art and culture through the ages.
“The show is a once-in-a-lifetime event,” says Dr. Aaron Celestian, NHM’s Curator of Mineral Sciences. “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 world-renowned 6,000-square-foot Gem and Mineral Hall opened in 1978 and is one of the finest permanent exhibition halls of minerals, rocks, gems, ores, and meteorites in the world. The permanent collection features roughly 175,000 specimens, including extensive fine gem collections on display from locations around the world, such as Myanmar (formerly Burma), South Africa, Colombia and Sri Lanka.
100 Carats: Icons of the Gem World opens to the public on December 8, 2023, continues through April 21, 2024, and is included in the price of admission to NHM or free for Members. A VIP reception and press preview will occur on December 6, 2023.
This exhibition was organized by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in collaboration with Robert Procop Exceptional Jewels.
More information is available at nhm.org/100-carats.