The National Museum in Prague has discovered that several of the prize gems in its collection are actually fakes and synthetics.
According to a story on the Czech Republic’s Radio Praha, the Museum has been sorting through its items in anticipation of its 100th anniversary. But rummaging through its gem collection has yielded some disconcerting discoveries.
One 5 ct. “diamond” turned out to actually be glass, while a sapphire was found to be synthetic, the report said.
“What we thought to be a 5 carat diamond was in fact plain glass given a diamond cut,” Ivo Macek, head of the museum’s precious stone department, told Radio Praha. “[The sapphire] is not a natural stone as was documented when the museum gained it for its collection in the 1970s. It was artificially created, so it does not have the value we thought it did. It was acquired for 200,000 crowns.”
A subsequent audit reportedly discovered that half of the museum’s rubies also were not natural gems.
The museum said it doesn’t know how the fakes and synthetics ended up in its gem collection. The diamond has been in the museum’s collection since the 1960s, and the sapphire since the 1970s. The person who used to be in charge of the gem collection has since died. The collection was long kept under lock and key.
The discovery has led the museum to conduct an audit of all the objects in its possession, including paintings and musical instruments.
Meanwhile, the museum’s deputy director, Michal Stehlík, was philosophical.
“When you have a collection of 20 million artifacts, then a certain fraction of that may prove to be problematic,” he told Radio Praha. “These things happen.”
He said it’s possible the museum might one day decide to organize an exhibition of notable fakes.
Emails sent to the museum’s spokespeople were not returned at press time.
(Image courtesy of the National Museum)