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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Rarest Diamonds in the World on Display at Smithsonian

Aired June 26, 2003 - 20:54   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: They're calling it a one of a kind exhibit, the rarest and most precious diamonds in the world on display starting tomorrow morning at a Smithsonian in Washington. They are huge rocks. Kathleen Koch got a private advanced tour of the vault and the diamonds.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They are the seven wonders of the gem world, gathered together in one place for the first time in history.

JEFFREY POST, CURATOR: For these three months this will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to see these together.

KOCH: In the heart of the Museum of National History, past cabinets of artifacts. They are stored temporarily in a vault few people enter. We did interviews locked inside next to the seven perfect, priceless diamonds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Internally flawless, externally flawless.

KOCH (on camera): It's incredible, and the weight, just simply touching it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two hundred and three karats, about 40 grams.

KOCH: So heavy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's got a good heft to it.

KOCH: A hefty diamond that thieves took a stab at in London in 2000, breaking into an exhibit using a bulldozer, sledgehammers and nail guns. Police tipped off were waiting.

JON SHATFORD, DET. CHIEF SUPERINTENDENT: They would have committed the largest robbery ever to take place anywhere in the world.

KOCH: The jewels in the Smithsonian exhibit include the finest colored diamonds in the world. Colors created when impurities replaced the carbon.

POST: This beautiful yellow, the allnut (ph) diamond gets its color from nitrogen impurities. The blue color comes from boron.

KOCH: The 59.6 karat pink diamond just unveiled in Monaco is on display for the first time. Its owners confident it is secure.

(on camera: This exhibit is every jewel thief's dream. They're Mt. Everest to concur. Isn't that a frightening prospect?

NIR LIVNAT, DIAMOND DESIGNER, STEINMETZ GROUP: It's a very frightening prospect. And hopefully it will remain as a prospect and as a nightmare, but will never take place.

KOCH (voice-over): Assured because the collection will be housed in the same room as the Hope Diamond.

(on camera): This room an actual vault, with state-of-the-art security. Iron doors hidden in panels in the walls close every night, sealing it off from the rest of the museum.

(voice-over): For now, stars hyperventilate and dignitaries get private showings of a rare rainbow adding sparkle to the Smithsonian.

Kathleen Koch, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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