Emerald, 18.88 carats pear-shape, Hiddenite, North Carolina
Lot 1367
Very Large and Rare American Emerald—"The Carolina Queen"
US$ 350,000 - 450,000
£210,000 - 270,000
Auction Details
Emerald, 18.88 carats pear-shape, Hiddenite, North Carolina Emerald, 18.88 carats pear-shape, Hiddenite, North Carolina
Lot Details
Very Large and Rare American Emerald—"The Carolina Queen"
Hiddenite, North Carolina
This historical emerald of exceptional quality, size and provenance was found in Hiddenite, North Carolina in the fall of 1998. It is the largest faceted emerald ever found in North America and the finest and largest ever recorded.

Located in the rolling foothills of the Appalachians, the small town of Hiddenite has long been associated with a wide range of gemstones, including emerald, ruby, sapphire and the rare gem hiddenite, the type locality for that stone (the deep-green sister of the lilac-pink gem known as kunzite, named after George Frederick Kunz, gemologist and former curator of the American Museum of Natural History Mineral Collection). In the late 19th century, Thomas Edison, the inventor, asked Kunz and Professor William Hidden to visit the area to seek platinum for his light bulb filaments. The men did not find platinum, but Prof. Hidden discovered the gem that was then named after him (as was the town). Hidden and Kunz found 63 different gems and minerals in an area along a fault line in what they described as "the most complex geological zone in the world." Decades passed with few finds of any significance until, in the early 1970s, Tiffany and Co. purchased a 13-carat gem, known as "The Carolina Emerald" amid much fanfare and publicity. At the time it was believed to be the most valuable North American gem until the present stone was found in the late 90s.

It was not until the 1990s that miner James K. Hill discovered a vein yielding large, gem-quality emeralds including a 70+ carats crystal from which the present stone and another smaller one were cut. The smaller oval stone, weighing approximately 7.85 carats, was dubbed "The Carolina Prince". It was stated to have sold privately in 1999 for a record total of US$500,000 or over $63,000 per carat. The second stone, which is the present offering, was cut from that same rough, yet is of significantly greater size at 18.88 carats, and is known as "The Carolina Queen". Notable not only for its large size, the vivid color sets this stone apart from any others. The color in North Carolina emeralds results from the presence of chromium, the same coloring agent in the famed emeralds of Colombia. The color of the present emerald is comparable to very fine Colombian stones.

It is clear that no other American emerald rivals this one either for color, quality or size or historical provenance. Bonhams is honored to have the privilege of offering it at public auction.

Weighing approximately 18.88 carats and measuring 18.4 x 14.7 x 12.4 mm


  • Accompanied by an American Gemological Laboratories colored stone grading report no. CS 33245 dated October 1, 1999 stating that the 18.88 carats natural emerald is a North Carolina emerald. "This emerald represents the finest example of North Carolina material ever submitted to the laboratory for analysis."

    Accompanied by a Market Value Report dated September 2, 2000 from the Analytics Research and Development, Inc. the appraisal division of AGL circa 2000 in which C.R. Beesley, the president, writes "Currently, the North Carolina Emerald described in the accompanying report represents the largest and finest recorded gemstone to be recovered in North Carolina to date. The market value information contained in this report reflects the unique origin, quality and rarity exhibited by this material.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note: A larger faceted emerald of 64 carats known as the "Carolina Emperor" was cut in 2010. However, the present stone, "The Carolina Queen" still remains the largest, gem-quality emerald found in America.
  1. Claudia Florian, G.J.G
    Specialist - Natural History
    7601 W. Sunset Boulevard
    Los Angeles, 90046
    United States
    Work +1 323 436 5437
    FaxFax: +1 323 850 5843