Raleigh, N.C. — Thanks to an anonymous donor, a downtown Raleigh science museum will soon be home to a rare gem and minerals collection featuring four of the largest emeralds ever found in North America.
The collection, which will be housed in the Nature Research Center in the new wing of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, is set to open Friday, April 20, and is valued at $5 million.
"This is exceptional that someone would step up and be this generous," said museum Director Betsy Bennett. "When I first saw these gems, I was speechless. Now all I can think of is, 'How amazing is this?'"
Three of the emeralds were discovered on March 16 last year on the Wren Adams property in Alexander County in western North Carolina, and weigh 1,225 carats, 685 carats and 591 carats, according to a news release from the museum.
The fourth, dubbed the Carolina Emperor, is the largest cut emerald in North America, weighing in at 64 carats. It was found in 2009, also on the Wren Adams property, and is styled after the emerald once owned by Catherine the Great of Russia.
"We are preserving a natural treasure for the citizens of North Carolina," Bennett said in the release. "Finally, the people will be able to see these breathtaking emeralds that were found right here in our state."