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Associated Press

RALEIGH, NC (AP) — Rare emeralds found buried 20 feet below the ground in North Carolina will stay in their home state.

An anonymous donor has given three large uncut emeralds and the largest cut emerald originating in North America to the museum, which will exhibit the collection in its new $56 million Nature Research Center that opens next month.

Museum director Betsy Bennett said Friday that the emeralds and some rare hiddenite given by the same donor are among the biggest prizes in the museum’s 132-year-old history.

One of the uncut emeralds weighs more than 1,200 carats. The 64-carat cut emerald is known as the “Carolina Emperor.”

North Carolina is the only place on this continent where significant emerald deposits are found, explaining why the stone is the official state gemstone.

Martha Waggoner can be reached at: http://twitter.com/mjwaggonernc

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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