Live from the Smithsonian Institution Building, popularly known as the Castle in Washington DC, QVC will be bringing exquisite fashion jewelry inspired by the iconic treasures in the National Museum of Natural History. I have had the great privilege to work with Jeff Post, the Curator of the National Gem Collection on this incredible show and can’t wait for you to see the film clips of Jeff speaking about these treasures.
Please don’t miss this live broadcast from 8 – 10 PM EST on December 2 when Jane Treacy will take you on a private, after hours tour behind the scenes at the Museum of Natural History. In the mean time, I wanted to share some of the truly incredible stories of this historic jewelry with you, which sparked our inspiration for several pieces.
I hope you enjoy!
THE HOPE DIAMOND
The Hope Diamond is renowned for its rare color and rich history. It was formed more than a billion years ago at a depth of about 150 km. The diamond was brought to the earth's surface by a volcanic eruption. The rare blue color of the jewel is attributed to light interaction with an impurity in the diamond's atomic structure. As the diamond grew, a few atoms of boron entered the crystal structure and substituted for some of the carbon atoms.
MARIE ANTOINETTE’S PEAR SHAPED DIAMOND EARRINGS
These two large, pear-shaped diamonds weigh 14.25 and 20.34 carats respectively, and are originally from India or Brazil, the only significant sources of diamonds in the eighteenth century. The diamonds were supposedly set in earrings that belonged to Marie Antoinette, the queen of France who was guillotined in 1793 during the French Revolution. While the circumstances by which Marie Antoinette’s diamond earrings left her possession may never be known with certainty, the earrings appear to have stayed in the French royal family.
EMPRESS MARIE-LOUISE’S DIADEM
Napoleon gave the diadem to his second wife, the Empress Marie-Louise, on the occasion of their marriage. Originally the diadem, commissioned in 1810, was set with emeralds, which were replaced in the mid-1950s with turquoise.
THE PORTUGESE DIAMOND
The Portuguese Diamond at 127.01 carats is the largest faceted diamond in the National Gem Collection. Under ultraviolet light, this diamond glows bright blue, a phenomenon called fluorescence. It was graded by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) as M in color and VS-1 in clarity, with very strong blue fluorescence. The apparent cloudiness in the stone is actually the blue fluorescence that is so intense it is visible even in daylight or incandescent light. In fact, if not for the fluorescence, the diamond would appear slightly yellowish.
THE POST DIAMOND TIARA
The Post Diamond Tiara was made in the mid 19th century (circa 1840). The flower petals and leaves are pavé set with 1,198 old mine and rose-cut diamonds. The tiara was made of silver and gold as commonly seen in early Victorian jewelry. It was fashioned “en tremblant;” the flowers were mounted on trembler springs so that every movement would enhance the brilliance and sparkle of the diamonds.
THE NAPOLEAN DIAMOND NECKLACE
The Napoleon Diamond Necklace was a gift from Emperor Napoleon to his second wife, Marie-Louise, to celebrate the birth of their son, Napoleon II, the Emperor of Rome, in 1811. The elegant silver and gold necklace, designed by Etienne Nitôt and Sons of Paris was completed in 1811 and consists of 234 diamonds.
THE CHALK EMERALD
The superb clarity and color of the Chalk Emerald ranks it among the world's finest Colombian emeralds. This outstanding 37.8-carat emerald exhibits the velvety deep green color that is most highly prized.
THE BLUE HEART DIAMOND
The remarkable Blue Heart Diamond was found at the Premier Mine, South Africa, in 1908. This 30.62 carat heart-shaped, brilliant-cut blue diamond was faceted by French jeweler Atanik Eknayan of Paris in 1909-1910 from a 100.5 carat piece of rough. The stone was purchased by the French jeweler, Pierre Cartier in 1910. Cartier then sold it to Mrs. Unzue of Argentina in a lily-of-the-valley brooch in 1911.
THE HALL SAPPHIRE NECKLACE
The Hall Sapphire Necklace, designed by Harry Winston, Inc., features 36 sapphires from Sri Lanka, totaling 195 carats, set in platinum. Their soft sky blue color is accented by 435 pear-shaped and round brilliant-cut diamonds, totaling 83.75 carats. The Hall Sapphire Necklace is a magnificent display of extremely well-matched sapphires of incredible size and amazing quality.
THE HAZEN DIAMOND NECKLACE
The Hazen Diamond Necklace was designed by Harry Winston, Inc. This statement necklace is made of platinum, and contains 325 diamonds that have a total weight of approximately 131.43 carats. The necklace has two sections: the upper section is a single row of emerald-cut diamonds, and the lower section consists of 3-rows-- a row of baguette-cut diamonds and a row of round brilliant-cut diamonds from which a “fringe” of pear-shaped diamonds is suspended.
This superb 75.47-carat Colombian emerald was once the property of Abdul Hamid II, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire (1876-1909), who according to legend, wore it in his belt buckle. Tiffany & Co. purchased the emerald at auction in 1911 and initially set it into a tiara, featured in the New York World’s Fair “House of Jewels” exhibit in 1940.
HOOKER YELLOW DIAMOND
This magnificent suite of 18k yellow gold jewelry was designed by Cartier, Inc. in the late 1980s. As seen in these incredibly rare gems, diamonds are not always colorless. In most cases, a few atoms of nitrogen substituted for some of the carbon as the crystals formed, tint the diamonds yellow. In general the more yellow a diamond, the less it is worth, until the hue is sufficiently intense for the gem to be graded a fancy color.
THE BISMARCK SAPPHIRE
The 98.57-carat Bismarck Sapphire is mounted in a platinum necklace designed by Cartier, Inc., surrounded by 312 baguette and round brilliant-cut diamonds and accented with 8 square-cut sapphires. The magnificent sapphire exhibits the highly prized deep blue color of sapphires from Burma.
THE CARMEN LúCIA RUBY
At 23.10 carats, the Carmen Lúcia Ruby is the largest faceted ruby in the National Gem Collection and one of the finest large, faceted Burmese rubies known. This natural ruby possesses a combination of outstanding characteristics. Aside from its large size, this extraordinary gemstone displays a richly saturated homogenous red color, combined with an exceptional degree of transparency.
THE CULLINAN BLUE BIAMOND
The Cullinan Blue Diamond Necklace is an historical piece of jewelry that was presented by Thomas Cullinan, then chairman of the Premier Mine in South Africa, to his wife Annie, about 100 years ago. The gift was to commemorate the largest rough diamond ever mined – the 3,106-carat Cullinan diamond, discovered in 1905. Cullinan did not keep this gem for himself. Instead it was presented to King Edward VII of England by the Transvaal Government, and Cullinan was subsequently given knighthood.
THE LOGAN SAPHHIRE
The magnificent 423-carat Logan Sapphire was cut from a crystal mined in Sri Lanka and is one of the world's largest faceted blue sapphires (it is about the size of an egg). It is the heaviest mounted gem in the National Gem Collection, and in its silver and gold brooch setting is framed by twenty round brilliant-cut diamonds, totaling approximately 16 carats.
THE MACKEY EMERALD
The stunning Mackay Emerald was mined in Muzo, Colombia. The finest emeralds are found in the region around Muzo and Chivor, Colombia. These green gems were used by indigenous peoples for at least 1,000 years before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores in the 16th century. Although spurred primarily by their passion for gold and silver, the Spanish quickly recognized the potential of the exquisite green crystals and took control of the mines.
RUBY and DIAMOND BRACELET
This platinum bracelet contains 31 antique-cut Burmese rubies (totaling 60 carats) possessing the deep, highly-valued color called pigeon's blood. Burma, particularly the region around Mogok, has been a main source for rubies since the late fifteenth century. Rubies from this region are known for their rich and vibrant color, which is why the term "Burmese Ruby" is synonymous with the finest color rubies.