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What is the Duke of Devonshire Emerald?

Duke of Devonshire Emerald photographed in the Natural History Museum London

Duke of Devonshire Emerald 1,383.93 Carats

The Duke of Devonshire Emerald is believed to have been discovered in Muzo close to Santa Fe de Bogota in Columbia early in the 19th century.

With a weight of 1,383.93 carats this hexagonal shaped crystal is believed to be one of the largest uncut emeralds in existence.

During a visit to London's Natural History Museum we managed to capture a relatively good photo of the Duke of Devonshire Emerald. The picture was taken from below looking up so the light from the top of the cabinet is shining down through the crystal.

This information is next to the cabinet in which the Duke of Devonshire Emerald is housed.

history of the duke of devonshire emerald

The Duke of Devonshire Emerald found its way into the hands of Emperor Don Pedro I of Brazil (1798-1834) who then passed it onto William Cavendish 6th Duke of Devonshire around 1831.

It's not clear whether the emerald was given to him as a gift or if he purchased it.

Prior to being on display in London's Natural History Museum, the Duke of Devonshire Emerald was at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851.

Although there are believed to be larger uncut emeralds in existence, specific details about these stones are vague and scarce.

Whilst doing our research on the Duke of Devonshire Emerald we read an article that said the exact whereabouts of the stone are currently unknown.  It claimed the crystal on display in London's Natural History Museum was a replica.

This practice is not unusual and often happens with museum exhibits.  It's also a common practice with unique items of jewellery displayed in the windows of prestigious jewellers.

This not only safeguards the original piece of jewellery in the event of a robbery but is also likely to bring down the cost of insurance.

Another benefit of using a replica is that it's not necessary to make the cabinet quite as secure. 

paragraph of text explaining the history of the duke of devonshire emerald

With curiosity getting the better of us we wanted to see if we could find the whereabouts of the actual Duke of Devonshire Emerald.  Our determination finally paid off and we were eventually assured on good authority the exhibit in London's Natural History Museum is the actual Duke of Devonshire Emerald.

This extraordinary crystal is on long term loan from the Duke of Devonshire.

The picture of the Duke of Devonshire Emerald at the top of our article was taken by Stone Mania.  The image is clickable and redirects to the original photo. 

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