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Stolen diamond returned to natural history museum

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The 3-carat uncut diamond stolen from the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science on Wednesday was returned to the museum Thursday morning.

Albuquerque police allowed museum officials to pick up the missing diamond after it was purchased by a local gem and mineral shop. The diamond had been “shopped around” to several stores in the metro area Wednesday, according to the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs.

Carrie Moritomo, spokesman for the department, said the store that surrendered the diamond asked to remain anonymous.

An image of the diamond stolen from the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science on Wednesday. (Courtesy of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs)

An image of the diamond stolen from the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science on Wednesday. (Courtesy of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs)

APD spokesman Daren J. DeAguero said Thursday afternoon that he had no information on whether any arrests had been made in connection with its recovery.

The diamond, part of a display about volcanoes, was reported missing by a custodian about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. The thief broke a lock on the case in which the diamond was displayed.

Because the museum opens at 9 a.m., the alarm system was not armed, Moritomo said. The diamond’s display case does not have a separate alarm, and no cameras are set up to record activities in that area of the museum.

Moritomo said the diamond has been on loan to the museum from another institution for the past 28 years.

The museum exhibit, which will reopen once repairs are made, explains how various gems and minerals are formed deep beneath the Earth’s crust and how they are expelled by volcanoes.

Natural diamonds are formed from carbon subjected to intense heat and pressure deep in the Earth’s mantle and rise to the Earth’s surface through volcanoes.

“I would like to thank the gem and mineralogy community in the Albuquerque area – they really came through for us,” museum executive director Charles Walter said in the news release. “We are pleased to have the diamond back. It’s now locked in the museum’s vault.”

Karen Fitzpatrick, a certified gemologist appraiser with the American Gem Society and co-owner of Harris’ Jewelers and Gemologists in Rio Rancho, said her best estimate on the value of the diamond – given that she didn’t know its clarity or color – was between $8,500 and $35,000.

Moritomo said Wednesday she did not know the value of the diamond.

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