|A few summers after graudate school the Hope Diamond was taken from its vault and transfered to a darkened room. For several moments John White, then the Smithsonian gem curator, helped me charge the Diamond with short wave light. In the darkness, the fevered gem, the largest blue diamond in the world, turned red, glowed like a coal, muted like a dying ember. The only light in the room came from the stone itself.
The most famous of diamonds, steeped in centuries of intrigue and allure and of the highest cultural and historical rarity, became a startling visual phenomenon.
|This brilliant blue diamond transformed itself: it phosphoresced red. It seemed possessed. Seeing this transformation irrevocably altered the art that gems, which often serve as meaningful yet conventional symbols in our lives, have the capacity to bring out these symbols in a much more powerful manner. Gems, like alter egos, have the potential to show us to ourselves, reveal aspects of our personalities and lives.|