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Jewels of the Smithsonian Collection

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The discussion of important historical jewels would not be complete if the extensive collection owned by the American people were not mentioned. There are several stars which we will tell you about here the lore and provenance crosses borders, political upheavals and palace intrigue.

The famed antique jewelry piece, the Hope Diamond

Emperor Napoleon of France centers on one such item. The birth of the one heir to the French Imperial Crown was born to Empress Marie Louise hisNapoleons second wife in 1811 .The Emperor overjoyed at this event securing his line was anxious to bestow a suitable gift to his Austrian born empress . It was indeed impressive the Marie Louise Necklace as it is known today comprised of 47 cushion and pear shaped Diamonds weighing a staggering 275 carats. The necklace was acquired by the famed jeweler of royalty Harry Winston who sold it to socialite and philanthropist Marjorie Merriweather Post who donated it among other important jewels to the Smithsonian.

The Marie Antoinette earrings are a questionable entry into this rarified club however they are by no means modest. The ill-fated king Louie XVI gave an impressive pair or earrings containing two large pear shaped Diamond drops to his queen who it is said wore them constantly. As the revolution progressed the royal family attempted escape from the Tuileries Palace in Paris the royal residence in 1791 , the earrings went with them and were confiscated when they were caught fleeing France . The pair in the Smithsonian came into the possession of Prince Felix Youssoupov of the Russian nobility who in later years sold them to Cartier from whom Mrs. Post again purchased them in 1928 ultimately donating them to the American gem collection.

One of the best and most notable gems in the collection is the famed Hope Diamond, this stone has a storied past and has had many lives and several forms. Originally this deep blue natural Diamond was sold to Louie XIV by Tavanier a French merchant and was dubbed The Blue Diamond of the Crown and indeed set into a neck ornament . The stone passed eventually to Louie XVI who in turn allowed Marie Antoinette to wear it in a black velvet hat .As the revolution progressed a robbery of the French crown jewels scattered many of the historical gems the large blue Diamond was one . In order to disguise its ownership it was recut in London and sold to Sir Thomas Hope , eventually roaming royal houses and resting with American heiress Evalyn Walsh McLean, who wore it continually till her death at which time it was sold again the jeweler Harry Winston who donated it to the American people .

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