The Jones diamond gets its name from members of the Jones family, who accidentally discovered the stone in Peterstown, West Virginia in April 1928. The diamond is also variously known as "the Punch Jones Diamond," "the Grover Jones diamond" or "the Horseshoe diamond."
The diamond is an uncut naturally formed dodecahedral crystal, with 12 natural facets, weighing 34.48 carats and has a white color with a bluish tinge. It has the rare distinction of being the largest alluvial diamond ever discovered in North America. The bluish tinge is probably caused fluorescence.
Diamonds crystallize in the isometric crystal system. The common crystal forms in this system are the cubic (4-sided), octahedral (8-sided), and dodecahedral (12-sided) forms.
On a certain day in April 1928, when William P. Jones (Punch Jones), and his father Grover C. Jones Sr. were pitching horseshoes, on the land surrounding their residence, in Peterstown, West Virginia, they noticed a shiny stone on the ground, which they thought was a shiny piece of quartz commonly found in the area. One of them casually picked up the stone and carried it into the tool shed, where he just deposited it in a wooden cigar box.
The whole incident was forgotten for the next 14 years, and the stone remained undisturbed in the wooden cigar box. Even if the stone had been re-discovered from the box during this period, it would not have had any impact, as this period corresponded with the period of the "Great Depression," a period of harsh adversity, precipitated by a worldwide economic downturn, causing drastic declines in output, severe unemployment, and acute deflation. The depression was particularly long and severe in the United States and Europe.
In 1942, William P Jones-Punch, re-discovered the stone in the wooden cigar box, dumped in the tool shed. This time he became very inquisitive about the stone, and was determined to find out more about the stone, it's nature and if it had any monetary value. He carried the stone to Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VPI)-now Virginia Tech- in nearby Blacksburg, Virginia, and met the professor of Geology, Holden, who examined the stone. After a careful examination of the stone, the Professor concluded that the stone was a diamond, The Professor was genuinely shocked at Punch's discovery, as this was the first time he was seeing an alluvial diamond of that size, discovered from North America.
The Jones family who were excited and overjoyed by the authentication of the stone as a diamond, lost no time in taking necessary precautions to safe guard their precious find. They dispatched the stone to the Smithsonian Institution for safe keeping and display at the Museum of Natural History. The Smithsonian Institution gladly accepted the stone and kept it in their custody until February 1964, when the Jones family informed the Institution that they needed to take back the stone.
Having removed the stone from the Institution's custody, the Jones family deposited it in a safe deposit box in the First Valley National Bank , in Rich Creek, Virginia. Twenty years later in 1984, the Joneses sold the diamond for an unspecified amount to an anonymous buyer, at a Sotheby's auction held in New York.
The above account of the Jones diamond will not be complete, without giving the reader an insight, into the story of the Jones family which is as interesting as the story of the diamond itself.
Grover C. Jones Sr. and his wife Annie Grace Buckland Jones had seventeen children, sixteen consecutive boys and one girl. the large size of the family and the consecutive 16 male births, impressed a lot of Americans, including the President of the United States at that time, Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Jones family became celebrities, and during the New York World Fair in 1940, they were invited to be the guests of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. They were introduced on National Broadcasting Company, and met the Governor of New York and Mayor of New York City. Mr. Jones and his family were then invited to tour the United States, by many businessmen, who saw this as a golden opportunity to make a quick buck at the expense of the celebrity status of the family, but Mr. Jones was intelligent enough to realize what the unscrupulous businessmen were after, and politely declined the invitation, thus preventing the exploitation of his family. He later returned with his family to his hometown of Peterstown, West Virginia.
The text of a historical marker placed in Peterstown reads as follows :-
An alluvial diamond weighing 34.48 carats (6.896g), largest to date found in North America, was discovered here in April 1928, by William P "Punch" Jones and his father Grover C. Jones Sr., while pitching horseshoes in the home yard of Mr. & Mrs. Grover C. Jones. "Punch" was later killed in combat during world war II. Mr. & Mrs. Grover C. Jones, still retain ownership of the diamond.
After the placing of this historical marker in Peterstown, West Virginia, Mr. & Mrs. Grover C. Jones had passed away, and the ownership of the diamond had also changed.
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