Saturday, January 18, 2014

Famous Gemstones

The Hortensia Diamond. Named after the Queen of Holland, the rock glittered on Napoleon's epaulette braid fastening and, later, on Empress Eugenie's comb. After the French Revolution, the diamond was snatched and later found in a bag of treasures in the attic of an old house in Paris. According to lore, the man who stole the precious gems disclosed the secret location just before his execution. Today, it's held in the Louvre's Gallerie d'Apollon.

The Cora Sun-Drop Diamond. The Cora, at 110 carats, is the largest yellow pear-shaped diamond. It auctioned for $11 million in 2011, setting Sotheby’s new record for a yellow diamond.
The Hope Diamond. The Hope is believed to be cursed. Evalyn Walsh McLean, one of its former owners, referred to the rock as her "lucky charm." Soon after acquiring it, though, McLean's son died in a car accident, her husband divorced her and died insane, and her daughter committed suicide. She herself became a morphine addict. In 1959, the 45.52-carat rock was donated to the Smithsonian. It was sent by regular mail.

La Peregrina Pearl. - After passing from the hands of Spanish, French, and English kings and queens (Bloody Mary included), the pearl eventually wound up perched prominently on the bosom of an American royal, Elizabeth Taylor, in 1969. Richard Burton purchased the pearl for her, even outbidding a prince. Taylor then misplaced La Peregrina in a Las Vegas hotel, only to find it in her dog's mouth.
The Star of India. - The world's largest star sapphire, weighs 563-carats and is roughly the size of a golf ball. On Halloween eve in 1964, it was stolen in a heist at the Museum of Natural History, only to be found a few days later in a Miami bus terminal locker.

The Cullinan Diamond. - Discovered in South Africa, the Cullinan is the largest diamond ever found. It was cut into more than 100 smaller pieces, the nine largest of which belong to the British Royal Family. Pictured is a brooch made out of Cullinan III and IV.
The Tiffany Diamond. In 1877, Tiffany & Co.'s iconic 128-carat yellow diamond was found in South Africa. It adorned Audrey Hepburn's neck while she was doing publicity photos for Breakfast at Tiffany's and, today, it’s on permanent display in the New York Fifth Avenue store.

The Logan Sapphire. - Originally from Sri Lanka, this 423-carat violet blue sapphire is roughly the size of an egg. It belonged to a Washington, D.C., socialite, Mrs. Polly Logan, who donated the stone to the Smithsonian’s collection in 1960.

The Tutti Frutti Necklace by Cartier. One of Cartier’s most famous pieces, the “Hindu necklace” was commissioned by Vogue-honored socialite and Singer sewing machine heiress Daisy Fellowes in 1936. It's made of dozens of rubies, emeralds, and diamond beads set in platinum and thirteen sapphires. This was the necklace that helped kick off Cartier's "Art Deco" craze.

The Emerald and Diamond Pendant Brooch. The Emerald and Diamond Pendant Brooch is made from a piece of Mughal emerald that hails from the mid-seventeenth century. The stone from India weighs 55.8 carats and is carved with tulips, and was sold at a Christie's auction in 2003.