473 carat emerald on display in Santa Ana

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Owners of a Colombian mine have lent the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana a large emerald crystal valued at 3-and-a-half million dollars. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez got a peek.

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: The stone is called El Itoco, named after the river that runs next to where it was mined. It’s a four-inch-long hexagon that weighs 473 carats. Gem expert Ronald Ringsrund ferried it from Colombia to the Bowers Museum. He says he didn’t think the mine owners would let it go.

Ronald Ringsrund: The old generation of Colombian emerald mine owners, they would just stay out at the mines and the moment anything was mined, it was practically sold right there. Now with the global financial crisis things are a little slower and there are younger people taking over the emerald mines, and those people have a little bit more vision, a little bit more education. They’re open to ideas, like my suggestion that they lend this stone out.

Guzman-Lopez: The stone joins other South American treasures at the museum – 100 works by Fernando Botero, the Colombian painter best known for his corpulent portraits.