Diamonds Unearthed

In the final installment of this three-part series, diamond expert Jeffrey Post discusses the histories behind the Smithsonian collection

Jeweler Harry Winston donated the famous Hope Diamond—the largest-known deep blue diamond in the world—to the Smithsonian Institution in 1958. It arrived in a plain brown package by registered mail, insured for one million dollars. Surrounded by 16 white pear-shaped and cushion-cut diamonds and hanging from a chain with 45 diamonds, the rare gem attracts 6 million visitors a year to the Natural History Museum. (Chip Clark)

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Harry Winston gave it the interesting name the Spanish Inquisition necklace. It was a necklace that belonged to the maharaja of Indore in India. The large emeralds and diamonds in that necklace were cut during the Mogul period, so going back to the early 1600s in India. They're almost football-shaped diamonds that were very typical of the cutting style of that time. They are the oldest cut diamonds in the collection.

In part one, Jeffrey Post discusses how diamonds form. In part two, he talks about colored diamonds, conflict diamonds and synthetic gems grown in the lab.


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