This giant topaz is coming out of hiding

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The largest known blue topaz stone, owned by philanthropist Maurice Ostro, is displayed to media at the Natural History Museum in London, Britain September 27, 2016.  REUTERS/Peter Nicholls - RTSPNHP

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JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to our “NewsHour” Shares, something that caught our eye that might be of interest to you, too.

The mineral topaz comes in a wide range of hues and saturations, and one British museum is about to unveil what it says is the biggest cut specimen of its color and clarity.

The “NewsHour”‘s Julia Griffin took a closer look.

JULIA GRIFFIN: At 9,381 glittering carats, the Ostro stone is being called the largest topaz of its kind. The electric blue, oval-cut stone is nearly six inches long, 4.5 inches wide, and weighs nearly 4.5 pounds.

MAURICE OSTRO, Chairman, Ostro Minerals: Having tried to hold it for photography, I can tell you it is very heavy.

JULIA GRIFFIN: British entrepreneur and philanthropist Maurice Ostro recently gave the gemstone to London’s Natural History Museum on a permanent loan.

MAURICE OSTRO: What is amazing about this stone is not just its size. It’s its quality. The color, the intensity of the blue and the clarity of the stone are what makes it so exceptionally rare.

JULIA GRIFFIN: Ostro’s father, Max, discovered the original rough topaz in the Amazon rain forest in 1986, but the cut stone has been locked away for three decades.

After his father’s death, Maurice Ostro thought it was time for the public to enjoy the gemstone’s beauty. The museum’s mineral curator, Mike Rumsey, hopes the topaz will help spark interest in the wider collection.

MIKE RUMSEY, Minerals Curator,  Natural History Museum: It will tell us another bit of the natural story. So you start off with that rough mineral, which is all kind of quite interesting, and I really like that as a scientist. And then we do things to it, and we will change it. We will cut it into something, and this is really a fantastic example of the way in which we have crafted something out of nature.

JULIA GRIFFIN: The Ostro stone now joins other topaz record holders in their own color categories.

The 21,000-carat light blue Brazilian Princess topaz lives at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, while the 31,000-carat reddish-orange El-Dorado topaz belongs to the Programa Royal Collections in Spain.

The Ostro stone will go on display October 19. But jewel thieves, including Pink Panther prowlers, beware. The museum has pledged to boost security to protect the gemstone.

For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Julia Griffin.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Pretty stunning.

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