The largest faceted Hiddenite, N.C., emerald, the 18.88-ct. pear-shape “Carolina Queen,” was pulled from auction when it failed to meet its owners’ expectations. The auction was held Dec. 8, 2000, at Antiquorum in New York. The bidding, which struggled to reach $470,000, fell short of the selling price of the smaller 7.84-ct. oval “Carolina Prince,” which sold to a private collector in Statesville, N.C., for $500,000. Owners of the Carolina Queen believe its selling price should top one million dollars, since it’s a one-of-a-kind piece.
Both gems, Carolina Prince and Carolina Queen, were cut from a 71-ct. rough crystal unearthed from Alexander County’s Hiddenite emerald mine in 1998 by James Hill. Rick Gregory of R. Gregory Jewelers in Statesville, N.C., purchased the rough crystal from Hill with 11 other local businessmen.
Cap Beesley, president of the American Gemological Laboratories in New York, has described the Carolina Queen as “the finest North American emerald the lab has ever seen.” Some experts, including Beesley, say the Queen is a more important gem than the 13-ct. Tiffany “Carolina” emerald, found approximately 30 years ago, also from Hiddenite. No other emeralds have reportedly been mined since the 71-ct. discovery.