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Brilliant Exhibit: One-Of-A-Kind Gems

CAROUSEL: Former NASA Astronaut Lisa Nowak, 46, reacts after pleading guilty to third-degree felony burglary and misdemeanor battery at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Fla, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2009. Nowak, who drove 1,000 miles from Houston to Orlando to mount a bizarre attack on romantic rival Colleen Shipman, second from right background, pleaded guilty to the reduced charges and was sentenced to a year on probation.
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Seven of the world's rarest and most valuable diamonds will be on display together for the first time beginning Friday at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. It continues through Sept. 15.

The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith got a special preview of "The Splendor of Diamonds" exhibit.

They are after all just rocks - stones, if you insist. But, thanks to volcanic heat and immense pressure these shards of carbon have turned into the most exquisite collection of diamonds ever assembled.

"They are truly seven of the most amazing diamonds that have ever been found," says Jeffrey Post, curator of the museum's National Gems and Mineral Hall.

John King of the Gemological Institute Of America says, "Their color, their clarity in some instances, their size, are all very unusual and very rare."

Alluring, irresistible, stunning in their beauty - each of these magnificent baubles is arguably the best of its kind.

Nir Livnat, CEO of the Steinmetz Group, says it took "just under three years" to cut the De Beers 203-carat Millennium Star. It was displayed in London for that city's millennium celebration.

Post says, "It is both an internally and externally flawless diamond. And for a diamond that size, that's almost never heard of."

And a diamond this rare, this wonderous, was too much for would-be thieves to resist.

Livnat explains, "Scotland Yard had a tip-off that there was going to be an attempted robbery. At that time, we made replicas for all the stones, very good replicas, and we swapped them. Then eventually, two months later, they came, and the police were waiting for them and they caught them as they smashed the showcases."

Iman wore the Millenium Star at the Cannes Film Festival last year, causing a sensation when the always gem thirsty Elizabeth Taylor tried to wrestle it from her throat.

Because of their value and rarity, great diamonds are desired in way that has more to do with passion than common sense. The Heart of Eternity is blue - true blue.

Livnat says, "The Heart of Eternity, was sold to a private collector who gave it to his wife for her 50th birthday."

It's shaped like a heart. Livnat adds, "The largest vivid blue diamond ever."

If you think blue is cool, how about pumpkin? Owned by jeweler Harry Winston, the five-plus carat gem graced Halle Berry's hand when she won her Oscar for best actress.

Smith's personal favorite is the Steinmetz Pink. Just shy of 60 carats, its value is beyond the reach of mortal men. It made its debut this spring in Monaco at the Grand Prix, draped on the neck of the equally inaccessible Helena Christensen.

Livnat says, "We used Helena Christensen, supermodel, to wear it in a press conference and afterwards at the party. It was a well-secured party. And now we are proudly presenting it for the first time to the public."

There's a red one, a yellow one and aquamarine one, too. Together, the gems are the colors of a rainbow and if you had a pot of gold, you'd still come up a few dollars short.