|The Carolina Emperor, uncut, next to a US quarter.|
RALEIGH, N.C. — An emerald so large it’s being compared with the crown jewels of Russian empress Catherine the Great was pulled from a pit near corn rows at a North Carolina farm.
The nearly 65-carat emerald that its finders are marketing by the name Carolina Emperor was pulled from a farm once so well known among treasure hunters that the owners charged $3 a day to shovel for small samples of the green stones.
After the gem was cut and recut, the finished product was about one-fifth the weight of the original find, making it slightly larger than a US quarter and about as heavy as a AA battery.
The emerald compares in size and quality to one surrounded by diamonds in a brooch once owned by the Russian empress in the 18th century, which Christie’s auction house in New York sold in April for $1.65 million, said C.R. Beesley, a New York gemologist who examined the stone.
Although big, uncut crystals and even notable gem-quality emeralds have come from the community 50 miles northwest of Charlotte called Hiddenite, there has never been one so big it’s worthy of an imperial treasury, Beesley said.
“It is the largest cut emerald ever to be found in North America,’’ Beesley said.