NOV 28th

Hooker Diamonds & Emeralds As Big As Your Head

Perhaps “emeralds as big as your head” is an exaggeration but…how about a topaz that big?

Gemstone Smithsonian

I lost my head when I visited the gemstones exhibit at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum recently.

My sister in law and I “escaped” while Mr. V and my twin bro had the kids in the dinosaur exhibit.  We knew we had to be fast even though we were told, “take your time” by our sweet husbands.  This is an impossible task in the gemstones exhibit if your name is Amy Vermillion.

It is AMAZING!

Okay, so the main event that everyone comes to see is the Hope Diamond, which I will grant you is pretty fantastic.  It spins around in its heavily alarmed glass tomb. Kids have their faces pressed up against all four sides and you have to wait your turn to get a glimpse.

Hope Diamond

At almost 46 carats and a rare blue color, the Hope diamond is one of the world’s most famous gems–not only for it’s beauty but also for the mysterious curses and legends that are connected with it.

Yeah, yeah…I thought that was going to be the big show..turns out that was only the appetizer.

The rest of the exhibit left me breathless.  Seriously.  I had trouble breathing…could have been the ten million people squeezed into a small room or the fact that these next beauties literally took my breath away.

Let’s start with the Marie Louise Diadem which has over 1,000 diamonds (that’s 700 carats) and Persian turquoise set in silver.

Tiara via Amy Vermillion Interiors Blog

Okay, that didn’t impress you?  How about the Napolean Diamond Necklace with 172 diamonds (260 carats).  The diamonds are cut in the old-style versus the more modern brilliant cut we see in diamonds today.  The diadem above and this necklace were donated by Marjorie Merriweather Post.

Via Amy Vermillion Interiors Blog.

I mean….Cabuchon emeralds and diamonds courtesy of Spain?

Smithsonian Gemstone Exhibit via Amy Vermillion Interiors Blog

Yes, they are real.

Smithsonian Gemstone Exhibit via Amy Vermillion Interiors Blog

Rubies….delicious.  31 perfectly matched Burmese rubies in the pigeon blood color- which is the most valued of rubies.

Smithsonian Gemstone Exhibit via Amy Vermillion Interiors Blog

The Hooker Yellow Diamonds.  50 matched yellow diamonds of about 245 carats in the necklace.  Ear Clips have matched diamonds of 25.3 carats each.  The INSANE ring boasts a perfect 61.12 carat nugget.

Incredible.  I made a smarty pants remark about the name and the girls in front of us said, “we were just saying the same thing.”  Use your imagination folks.  It turns out they’re named for the gracious lady, Janet Annenberg Hooker, who gifted them to the Smithsonian in 1994.  Ohhhh.

Smithsonian Jewel Exhibit via Amy Vermillion Interiors Blog- Hooker Diamond Necklace

Feeling Blue?  Try the Logan Sapphire on for size.  It’s one of the biggest faceted blue sapphires- 423 carats from Sri Lanka and surrounded by 20 diamonds totaling 16 carats.  Mrs. John Logan wore this as a shoulder pin before donating it to the National Gem Collection in 1960.

Smithsonian Jewel Exhibit via Amy Vermillion Interiors Blog- Logan Sapphire

Harry Winston designed this beauty for Lita Annenberg Hazen which she donated in 1979.  It’s 325 diamonds weighing in at 131.4 carats set in platinum.  Sparkly sparkles!

Smithsonian Jewel Exhibit via Amy Vermillion Interiors Blog-Hazen Diamond Necklace

Feeling faint over the Mackay Emerald and Diamond Necklace.  Cartier designed this Art Deco piece in 1931 for Clarence Mackay to give to his new bride as a wedding gift.  The lucky girl was Anna Case- a prima donna in the New York Metropolitan Opera.  168 carats of dazzlement.

Smithsonian Jewel Exhibit via Amy Vermillion Interiors Blog- Emerald Necklace

 

Let’s take a science break.  Fun fact:  Pearls are formed by a mollusk (oyster) as a defense against harmful particles (bad stuff).  Who knew? When the irritant makes its way into the oyster, the mollusk coats it with a type of calcium and keeps building layers around it.

These are South Seas pearls.  The goldie ones are cuckoo gorgeous.

Smithsonian Jewel Exhibit via Amy Vermillion Interiors Blog- South Seas Pearls

 

The Hall Sapphire and Diamond Necklace features 195 carats of Sri Lanka matched sapphires.  Designed by Harry Winston.

Smithsonian Jewel Exhibit via Amy Vermillion Interiors Blog- Hall Sapphire Necklace

And…An Art Deco Indian-style necklace with  24 graduated emerald drops set in platinum with diamonds.  Cartier designed it in 1928-9 and it was gifted by Marjorie Merriweather Post in 1964.   She gave many pieces to the museum including art and jewelry.

Fun trivia:  One of Post’s famous homes is Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach and she and her second husband owned the largest private sea going yacht during her life time.  She was the daughter of CW Post (Postum Cereal Company) and became the founder of General Foods.

Smithsonian Jewel Exhibit via Amy Vermillion Interiors Blog- Indian Emerald Necklace

The detail is unbelievable:

Smithsonian Jewel Exhibit via Amy Vermillion Interiors Blog- Post necklace

Smithsonian Jewel Exhibit via Amy Vermillion Interiors Blog

Because of the long lines we had to cruise through the next part…geodes, big pretty chunks of things and slices of color…

Smithsonian Jewel Exhibit via Amy Vermillion Interiors Blog

 

Smithsonian Jewel Exhibit via Amy Vermillion Interiors Blog

 

Smithsonian Jewel Exhibit via Amy Vermillion Interiors Blog

 

Smithsonian Jewel Exhibit via Amy Vermillion Interiors Blog

 

Smithsonian Jewel Exhibit via Amy Vermillion Interiors Blog

 

 

Smithsonian Jewel Exhibit via Amy Vermillion Interiors Blog

 

Smithsonian Jewel Exhibit via Amy Vermillion Interiors Blog

Ice cubes lodged in a rock?  Yep. That’s what I thought too.

There is so much cool stuff to see at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum.  I hope you get to see for yourself!

What is your favorite gem?

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11 Responses to Hooker Diamonds & Emeralds As Big As Your Head

  1. beverly says:

    When you were in DC, you should have treated yourself to a tour of Marjorie Merriweather Post’s home. I’ll never forget all the special items from her travels. Do try to go there sometime.

  2. Susan says:

    These are insane! Love the pearls especially…but I’d have to go with diamonds as my fav. I mean, who wouldn’t?!

  3. Jeff says:

    Great pics!!

  4. wow! Diamonds for me…Diamond is my last name after all.
    annie

  5. Marianne says:

    How on earth do you choose a favorite? Stunning!!!

  6. Lisa Mende says:

    This is one of my favorite places to gawk! I love seeing all the stones. Your photos are amazing Amy!

  7. You weren’t kidding! Beautiful pieces!

  8. sally hutchison says:

    Oh my gosh! I’ve seen this exhibit but had forgotten about it. Diamonds are my favorite! I’m cuckoo for diamonds! Great pictures!