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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Emerald Carving

Carved emerald head (NMNH G10226-00)
Photo by Ken Larsen. Click to zoom.
Catalog Number NMNH G10226-00
Locality Muzo Mine, Colombia
Weight 70.1 ct

Gift of Ashok K. Sancheti in 2003.

This enchanting profile of a woman’s head was carved out of emerald, the rich green variety of the mineral beryl, the most valuable beryl gem. The emerald is from Colombia where the finest emeralds are found. Most emeralds are faceted for gemstones to be used in jewelry. However, in some cases stones are cut en cabochon or carved. This emerald carving also highlights the pyrite crystals (known as fools gold) that formed naturally with the beryl. The carver cleverly used the golden pyrite to his advantage by incorporating the crystals into his design as hair and an earring. This intriguing addition to the National Gem Collection weighs just over 70 carats.


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