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Press release

Gaze at the glory of glittering gems

The Aurora Collection returns to the Natural History Museum

A world-class collection of 296 naturally coloured diamonds has been loaned to the Natural History Museum by diamond collectors Alan Bronstein and Harry Rodman. The Aurora Collection comprises 267.45 carats of exceptionally rare stones, from the 12 colour varieties, and reveals an enchanting spectrum from emerald green to blood red.

'Gems like these were not meant to be imprisoned in a dark vault for the momentary pleasure of a few eyes,' said Alan Bronstein, co-owner of the Aurora Collection. 'The true value of a collection is sharing it with as many people who are interested to experience nature's diversity of expression. It's thrilling to think that the collection will be seen by the 3.6 million visitors that come to the Natural History Museum each year.'

Coloured, so called 'fancy', diamonds have become more desirable than ever. Coloured stones were recently worn by actresses Halle Berry and Scarlett Johansson. Fancy diamonds are very rare: only one in every 10,000 gem-quality diamonds is coloured. The colour in diamonds results from tiny amounts of elements other than carbon, or from atomic scale defects, in the diamond structure.  

'Each coloured diamond tells its own story, giving us insight not only into its formation but also to the deep earth processes that took place when the gem was formed,' said Alan Hart, Curator of Minerals at the Natural History Museum. 'For example, yellow diamonds are due to the presence of nitrogen in the structure and green diamonds owe their colour to natural radiation damage, It's an amazing opportunity to be able to display this unique collection of exceptionally rare gems at the Museum.'

The Aurora Collection was displayed for the first time in Europe in 2005 as part of the Natural History Museum's Diamonds exhibition. This stunning collection of diamonds is now on display at the end of the Museum's Minerals and Meteorites gallery. The display highlights a little-known property shared by coloured and white diamonds - some of them glow and change colour when exposed to ultra-violet light. 

The Natural History Museum has secured £150,000 of funding, from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)/ Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund, to transform the space that contains the Aurora collection into a dazzling gem gallery. Redevelopment plans are currently being made and the gallery is set to be finished in December 2007. 
 
Notes for editors
Winner of the 2006 Independent award for the UK's favourite museum, gallery or heritage attraction at the Museum and Heritage Awards for Excellence, the Natural History Museum is also a world-leading science research centre. Through its collections and scientific expertise, the Museum is helping to conserve the extraordinary richness and diversity of the natural world with groundbreaking projects in 68 countries.

Visitor information
Admission: free
Venue: Natural History Museum
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 10.00-17.50, Sunday 11.00-17.50
Visitor enquiries: 020 7942 5000 Monday-Friday, 020 7942 5011 Saturday and Sunday
Website: www.nhm.ac.uk

For further information, images or to interview Alan Hart or Alan Bronstein, please visit www.auroragems.com or contact the press office: Tel: 020 7942 5654 or email us.