On Wednesday, the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science based in Albuquerque was robbed. The robber removed a lock from the display and took a single item—a diamond the size of a fingernail.
Unfortunately, the robber hadn’t exactly done his/her homework. The diamond was uncut and about three carats. It had been at the museum for the past 28 years, but it wasn’t the Hope Diamond. Far from it. It was part of a display in the volcano exhibit and was used to illustrate part of an exhibit on how rocks form.
From the Albuquerque Journal:
Moritomo [a spokesman with the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs] said she did not have an estimate on the value of the diamond, but Karen Fitzpatrick, a certified gemologist appraiser with the American Gem Society and co-owner of Harris’ Jewelers and Gemologists in Rio Rancho, offered her best guesstimate.
“Honestly, without knowing the color and the clarity, it’s like asking me the price of a 4,000 pound car. It could be a Jaguar, it could be a Hyundai.”
Fitzpatrick told the Journal that the price could range from $8,500 to $35,000 if it was “a good stone.” For comparison, other gem-quality 3-carat diamonds can sell for over $150,000. This stone was likely not that grade. Museum director John Walter was quoted by news channel KOB 4 as saying: "These are geologic specimens. They're gorgeous and there's a lot of scientific value. Monetary value - not so much,'
The thief must have discovered that relatively quickly as s/he tried to sell the diamond in local gem and mineral stores. The gem was recovered and returned to the Museum on Thursday. (No arrests have been reported yet.) The diamond is now secure in a vault, and the volcano exhibit will remain closed until repairs can be made…and new security measures installed.