GIA attempts to acquire the ‘Bahia’

It is regarded as the world’s largest transparent gemstone sculpture and the world’s largest cut gem; and it took seven and one-half years of highly skilled artistry, lapidary expertise, and engineering to create. But this massive, awe-inspiring rock crystal quartz with thread-like golden rutile inclusions also holds special meaning for the Gemological Institute of America, and that is why the Institute has launched a campaign to save this gemological masterpiece, known as “Bahia.”

Named for the state in Brazil where it was found in 1987, Bahia, was created by noted gemstone carvers Glenn Lehrer, G.G., and Lawrence Stoller. William E. Boyajian, GIA president, said the colossal gem material, “has always been an integral part of the vision and design of the GIA campus experience.”

Bahia has been displayed various times at GIA’s world headquarters in Carlsbad since it opened in 1997. To many at the Institute, Bahia has become analogous with GIA’s mission, as it captures the inherent beauty of gemstones; skill of man’s creativity in sculpting and faceting; and grace in its final presentation, suspended majestically in a metal frame, illuminated in a breathtaking way from all angles. Besides its appearances at GIA, Bahia has also been displayed at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, Pa. and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

When GIA learned that Bahia would be made available for private purchase and might never again be displayed in the Institute’s world headquarters, many of the spectacular gem’s ardent admirers began to search for a way to prevent that from occurring.

The result is the campaign to Save Bahia, and Boyajian is leading the endeavor. Its goal is to raise $500,000 from 500 donations of $1,000 each. “The acquisition of Bahia would be the realization of a dream for GIA,” Boyajian said. “Its significance to the Institute will only increase as it serves as a cornerstone of our growing permanent museum collection and is exhibited in all its glory at the entrance to our future museum.”

Linda Ellis, chief development officer for GIA, said the campaign presents potential donors several attractive incentives. “What better way to show support for GIA than by contributing toward the acquisition of a piece as beautiful as Bahia, which is a physical embodiment of gemological education, the backbone of the institution,” she said. “Further, every donor will be recognized by having their name inscribed, in the order in which their donation was received, on the Bahia Donor Wall near the sculpture.”

For more information on donations, contact Bev Ross, Save Bahia campaign manager, at 760-603-4120, or via e-mail at bev.ross@gia.edu.