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Maid of Mist; Aquamarine gem

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Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012, 9:00 p.m.

N.Y. gov: Maid of Mist to continue at Niagara Falls

A deal has been struck to keep the Maid of the Mist scenic tour boats running from the New York side at Niagara Falls.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo confirmed the deal Tuesday. The deal is a part of a new license agreement with the state. The boat company will pay the state $105 million during 30 years.

Cuomo says the Maid of the Mist Corp. has agreed to invest $32 million in continuing operations that will provide more state revenue through the Niagara Falls State Park.

The agreement also will lead to improvements for the tourist attraction, potentially including rock climbing and rappelling.

The family-owned tour-boat company will make improvements at a former power station nearby to create a winter storage and maintenance facility.

Smithsonian to unveil aquamarine gem

The world's largest cut aquamarine gem is on display in its new home at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.

The museum unveiled the obelisk-shaped Dom Pedro gem Thursday for long-term display. The blue-green crystal was mined in Brazil in the late 1980s, and is named for Brazil's first two emperors.

The gem was designed and cut by gem artist Bernd Munsteiner. It stands 14 inches tall and weighs 10,363 carats — or nearly 5 pounds. Cuts in the reverse faces serve to reflect light within the gem.

National Gem Collection Curator Jeffrey Post said museum visitors will be drawn to it because of its color and large size, as it joins the Hope Diamond and Marie Antoinette earrings on display.

It's difficult to place a value on the gem, though it was offered to the Smithsonian in the late 1990s for $7 million to $10 million, Post said.

In 2011, Jane Mitchell and Jeffery Bland of Palm Beach, Fla., donated the gem to the Smithsonian so it could be publicly displayed.

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