The Dom Pedro Aquamarine; Making Waves
The Dom Pedro Aquamarine is the largest faceted aquamarine in the world. It is an amazing 13.75 inches tall, 4 inches wide and weighs a staggering 10.363 carats. This size is astoundingly huge, however, the size of the original rough crystal was around a meter long! The amazing aquamarine has a deeply saturated azure color and took 10 months to be sculpted into a breathtakingly beautiful work of aquamarine art.
Aquamarine is a variety of beryl, like emerald. The green color of emerald comes from traces of chromium, whereas aquamarine is colored by iron. The name "aquamarine" comes from the Latin words, aqua marina, meaning seawater, due to its watery green-blue hue. The most highly desired aquamarine has a high saturation of color. Most aquamarine has a light color and highly saturated color is rare in large gemstones. While most colored gemstones are valued for intensity of color, many aquamarine buyers favor a light color. As you can see in the picture on the right, the saturation of color varies throughout the crystal. Color saturation of aquamarine tends to be darker at the bottom of the crystal. Yet, the Dom Pedro Aquamarine appears darker at the top. This is because the crystal from which the Dom Pedro Aquamarine was sculpted had tubular inclusions at the top, so it was turned upside down.
This phenomenal aquamarine was mined from Minas Gerais in Brazil and named after Brazilian emperors Dom Pedro I, "the Liberator", and his son, Dom Pedro II, "the Magnanimous". The rough crystal was originally around a meter long. It was found in the 1980s and shortly after being unearthed, it was accidentally dropped and broken into three pieces. The smaller two pieces yielded gemstones that were sold commercially. The largest piece measured almost 2 feet in length and was destined for greater things. Indeed, a second piece of aquamarine as fine and large as this may not exist anywhere in the bowels of the Earth. Thus, an outstanding piece of work was required.
The Dom Pedro Aquamarine is not only a gemstone, but is also a sculpted work of art that was produced by renowned German artist and master fantasy lapidarist, Bernd Munsteiner from Idar-Oberstein. It is said that Munsteiner was confident about the strength of the crystal due to it having been dropped, which could have eliminated any internal weaknesses. For four months, Munsteiner studied the crystal and made drawings before spending a further 6 months working on the giant crystal. The sculpture was completed in 1993 and given a second name by Munsteiner; "Ondas Maritimas", which is Portuguese for "Waves of the Sea". Indeed, this unique piece of art appears as a pinnacle of marine beauty in motion.
The gigantic gemstone obelisk was donated to the Smithsonian by Jane Mitchell and Jeff Bland of Palm Beach, Florida, in 2011. The gem collecting couple acquired the Dom Pedro Aquamarine in 1999 after they had sold their successful surgical tool business, Midas Rex. It is said that the Brazilian owner of the Dom Pedro was planning to have it cut into hundreds of gemstones to recoup his investment. Jane Mitchell and Jeff Bland saved the Dom Pedro from being carved up and gave this fabulous jewel to the public to be admired by all in the National Gem Collection Gallery at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC. The Dom Pedro Aquamarine holds its own next to other world famous gemstones, such as the Hope Diamond.
- First Published: December-25-2014
- Last Updated: December-25-2014
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