20 Jun 2018
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Czech National Museum finds their diamonds are fake
It is not known how the fakes have come into the museum’s possession, and while it is possible that they were not properly checked at the time of acquisition, they may also have been swapped by criminals and the real gems stolen.
By: Diamond World News Service
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Mar 13 2018 12:04PM
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Reference: 16176  

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© Daily Mail Liars: A diamond in the Prague National Museum
© Daily Mail Liars: A diamond in the Prague National Museum's collection was found to be a worthless piece of cut glass during an inspection by curators

Diamonds and sapphires kept at the Czech National Museum in Prague and thought to be worth millions have been found to be fake.

A 5-carat diamond acquired by the museum in 1968 has been revealed to be a worthless piece of cut glass during an audit by concerned curators. Meanwhile a 19-carat sapphire bought by the museum for 200,000 crowns (£7,000) in 1978 has been found to be a cheap imitation worth only a fraction of that sum.

Half of the museum’s collection of rubies are also thought to be fakes. 

Liars: A diamond in the Prague National Museum’s collection was found to be a worthless piece of cut glass during an inspection by curators

A sapphire bought by the museum for 200,000 crowns  (£7,000) back in 1978 has been found to be synthetic, and worth only a fraction of that sum

It is not known how the fakes have come into the museum’s possession, and while it is possible that they were not properly checked at the time of acquisition, they may also have been swapped by criminals and the real gems stolen.

The discovery, first reported by HlidaciPes.org, was made during an inspection of some of the museum’s 5,000 precious stones and minerals, kept under lock and key in the Czech Republic’s capital.

Christopher A Marinello, a lawyer and director of Art Recovery International, which specialises in the recovery of stolen, missing and disputed cultural property, described the case as ‘pretty fantastic’.

He said: ‘It’s fifty-something years of potential suspects. I don’t know how they’re going to pinpoint who’s responsible.

‘Even a honeymoon couple who buy an engagement ring have to be careful that what they saw and what actually gets puts on the finger is the same ring.

‘Every time a stone gets cleaned, you have to have it done by somebody who’s not going to swap out the gems.’

 The embarrassing discoveries were made during an inspection of some of the museum’s 5,000 precious stones and minerals

He added: ‘These things are often done by insiders who have significant access to the objects, plenty of time,… and they can hide their crimes without anyone seeing them.’

Museums worldwide will be unnerved by the Prague case, he said, warning that many more such cases are likely to be discovered as technology improves and more institutions start having their collections reviewed forensically.

‘What we have here is still a sapphire, but it is not a natural stone as was documented when the museum gained it for its collection in the 1970s,’ Ivo Macek, head of the museum’s precious stones department, told Radio Praha.

‘It was artificially created so it does not have the value we thought it did. It was acquired for 200 thousand crowns and today it would have been worth tens of millions.

‘And what we thought to be a 5-carat diamond was in fact plain glass given a diamond cutting.’

Scratching the surface: The discovery was made during an inspection of the Prague National Museum’s 5,000 precious stones and minerals

The museum says they do not know how the fakes ended up in their collection, and is carrying out an investigation.

It is not known if the stones were already fake when they were acquired by the Museum in the 60s and 70s.

It is also not known if staff at the time did not have the expertise to catch the fakery, or if real gems were in fact acquired, and these have since been replaced by thieves.

The person in charge at the time has since passed away, and Radio Praha reports that the collection have been kept ‘under lock and key’ from the start.

So far, the museum has been able to check 400 of their 5,000 stones, with the full review of the collection expected to be completed by 2020.

The musem’s deputy director Michal Stehlík, attempted to play down the issue when speaking to the radio station.

He said: ‘When you have a collection of 20 million artifacts then a certain fraction of that may prove to be problematic. These things happen.

‘So we will push ahead with the audit and I think we may even organize an exhibition of fakes in this and other world museums when it is concluded in 2020.’

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