The Czech National Museum will be sorting out fake gems over the next two years.
After thousands of years of trickery, frauds, fakes and supposed acts of magic getting the better of people’s discernment, humanity is well aware that sometimes something only has to look real for people to think it’s real. In this vein, a gem is no different.
In Prague, Czech Republic, curators at the Czech National Museum had been going through the collection while readying to reopen after renovating for the last six years.
Included in this overview was the gem collection of some 5,000 stones, including more than a few diamonds considered some of the museum’s most notable possessions.
Unfortunately, close analysis has shown multiple gems to be not only fakes made in laboratories, but some even made of glass with a diamond cut, including their long admired five carat diamond acquired by the museum in 1964.
Another prized possession of theirs, a 19 carat sapphire originally estimated to have been worth over one million British pounds (~1,385,000 USD), has been found to have originated not in a great mountain or cavern but rather a not-so-naturally occurring laboratory.
The value of these gems is mostly defined by how much society values them and the quality of their cut. A gem with multiple refined, polished cuts is more expensive than one with fewer, duller cuts.
Gemologists and gemstone appraisers analyze gems on their quality and overall value based on characteristics like size, color and cut. Many of them have also been trained to look out for fakes. Since the curators at the museum were able to determine the gems as fakes upon close analysis, there is speculation in the museum that the gems had either been sold as fakes from the beginning or had been slowly stolen over time.
It’s also possible that someone at the museum was either aiding a perpetrator or stealing them themselves.
While the museum is insured on their possession, some of their items, including their prized gems, were over thirty to fifty years old.
The museum had planned to reopen during the centennial anniversary of Czechoslovakia’s formation and independence. However, only 400 of the 5,000 gems in their collection have been audited so far. Museum officials are saying that due to the sudden discovery of the fakes, auditing the remaining gems will probably take them until at least 2020.
Means of certifying the authenticity of the gems will need reworking, and more investigations are to be done on the whereabouts of the once genuine gems. In the mean time, the museum’s security measures have been tightened while they still prepare to reopen for the anniversary.
The number of fake gems found in their archives now presents the opportunity for the museum to intentionally exhibit something a little different: fantastically convincing fakes.