WASHINGTON — It is called a “miracle of nature” and it is poised to share a home with the Hope Diamond at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History for the next three months.
The Foxfire Diamond — the largest known uncut, gem-quality diamond mined in North America — weighs in at 187.63 carats and will be unveiled publicly in North America for the first time on Nov. 16 in the nation’s capital.
Unearthed in the frozen tundra 130 miles from the Arctic Circle in the Barren Lands of Canada’s Northwest Territories, it is the first diamond of its size to ever be found in North America.
The fact that it survived intact is considered a miracle. It was found by the Diavik Diamond Mine owned by Rio Tinto, which uses equipment configured to sift out stones smaller than six carats but pulverizes larger ones. The Foxfire, named after the aboriginal description of the Northern Lights, which depicts the luminescent light as a “brush of undulating fox tails,” would have been crushed had it not been for its flattened shape which passed through the crushers unscathed.
Prior to its discovery such large gem-quality diamonds were not believed to exist in the area. The largest diamonds found over the previous decade measured 6 carats.
“The Foxfire is truly exceptional, one of the great treasures of the earth,” said Jeffrey Post, curator of the National Gem and Mineral Collection. “We are delighted that our visitors will have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view North America’s largest gem-quality diamond in its natural form.”
Its owner, Deepak Sheth, president of Amadena Investments LLC, plans to keep the diamond intact and not have it cut into smaller stones for jewelry, a spokeswoman said.
Sheth purchased the diamond in an international auction in June 2016 for an undisclosed amount.
The two-billion-year-old diamond will be on display alongside the Hope Diamond in the museum’s National Gem Collection in the Harry Winston Gallery from Nov. 17 through Feb. 16.