Smithsonian Museum of Natural History Acquires Cullinan Blue Diamond Necklace
Yesterday, the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History unveiled its latest addition to the National Gem Collection, the Cullinan Diamond Necklace - a piece dating back to 1910 and boasting a history nearly as rich as its famous neighbor, the Hope Diamond.
A 30-carat piece is crafted in the Edwardian style, and boasts a unique structure which allows it to be worn as both brooch and necklace. The centerpiece stone is a large 2.6 carat "fancy blue" diamond with a chain of smaller blue and white diamond pieces.
Jeff Post, curator of the collection, calls the piece "very important ... people get a little bit jaded here [with the Hope Diamond so close by] but there's no where else in the world you can go [to see two such diamonds together."
The gem's rich history dates back to the late 19th century when Sir Thomas Cullinan, owner of the famous Premier diamond mine in South Africa, found the famed Cullinan White diamond, a gem weighing a massive 3,106 carats. The diamond was presented to King Edward VII for his birthday and earned Cullinan his knighthood. Cut into various pieces, the four largest stones harvested from this main stone are now the main gems in the British Crown Jewels.
The Cullinan Blue necklace, however, remained in the family after its original gifting from Sir Thomas to his wife, being passed from generation to generation until its sale by Sir Thomas' great-granddaughter.
Gifted to the museum after remaining in the case of San Francisco-based jeweler Stephen Silver for more than three decades, the Cullinan necklace is currently displayed in brooch form next to the Hope Diamond in a temporary exhibit.
"Sometimes we own things ... but lose the concept of how brief ownership can be," said Silver. "[Giving this gift] to our nation is something I feel very, very good about." Silver admits that he owns the rest of the collection and feels as if a further donation would be "appropriate at some point as well."
It is expected that the brooch will be re-set into necklace form and displayed in a permanent exhibit near the National Gem Collection's other prized jewels late next winter.