The Patiala Necklace
Made in 1928 by Cartier, the Patiala Necklace gets its name from Bhupinder Singh, the then Maharaja of Patiala, India. The necklace’s purpose was to provide a showcase suitable for the Maharaja’s recent purchase, the 234.65 carat De Beers Diamond. In total, the necklace contained 2930 diamonds, including seven that ranged in size from 18 to 73 carats, along with several large rubies.
Described as “rivers of diamonds set on a sea of platinum,” the 1.6 kilo bib-style necklace features five tiers of diamond encrusted chains, with a pendant displaying the De Beers Diamond. Several other large diamonds made an appearance as drop elements hanging from the lowermost chain or the pendant’s bottom. The necklace is currently in Cartier’s possession, with several synthetic stones standing in for jewels that vanished over the years.
Smithsonian Amethyst Brooch
Among the many objects in the Smithsonian Institute’s National Gem Collection is an amethyst and diamond brooch. Donated in 1973 by Mrs. George M. Morris, the highlight of the piece is the 96 carat heart shaped amethyst of deep purple. Surrounding it is a halo of diamonds mounted in platinum, topped with a lacy filigree design.
These characteristics have led the museum to believe that the jewel hails from the Edwardian era. It was during this time period that platinum took off as a medium for mounting gemstones, especially diamonds. Edwardian jewelry also featured garlands and lacy designs, all with a strong emphasis on symmetry.
Cullinan Blue Diamond Necklace
The Cullinan Blue Diamond Necklace was created to commemorate the discovery of the 3,106 carat Cullinan Diamond. The rough was gifted to the current British Monarch, Edward VII, who had the diamond cut into jewelry sized portions. The largest nine became a part of the British Crown Jewels. Thomas Cullinan, the owner of the mine from which the jewel was found, commissioned a necklace for his wife with nine large blue diamonds to represent the nine crown jewels.
The necklace is representative of Edwardian design. Its largest motif is a bow, made to look like a delicate ribbon, complete with bends in it as if it were cloth. Edwardian aesthetics also dictate that if nine diamonds are lovely, dozens more is even nicer. In all there are 243 colorless stones on the necklace, totaling 24.11 carats. The mount is made of rose gold coated in silver, reflecting Edwardian fondness for clear diamonds on a silvery background.
After generations in the Cullinan family, the necklace was donated to the Smithsonian’s collection.
The Mogul Emerald Necklace
The Mogul Emerald Necklace has a well-traveled background. As its name indicates, it spent time in India’s Mogul Empire. However, researchers believe it originated in Columbia. It was taken to India for cutting, where it was likely worn on the arm as an amulet. The carved floral design that takes up most of the stone’s surface indicates Mogul influenced design.
By the 20th century, the emerald made its way westward, to those with European sensibilities. It was set into the pendant portion of a necklace, outlined with a halo of diamonds and fastened to a double row of yet more diamonds, fifty carats in all. Markings on the piece hint that this transformation took place in France in the early 20th century. Since then, the emerald and its necklace traveled to the United States, where it’s part of the National Gem Collection.
Born in the 1920s, Art Deco is characterized by bold geometric looks and innovation. Cubism was a large influence, as was the idea of modernity. Lines and angles brought to mind machines and industry that was paving the way to an exciting new world. The new style was quite different from the soft muted look of the previous Art Nouveau aesthetic.
In the world of jewelry, Art Deco took its cues from India, East Asia, and the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb in Egypt as well as angular designs. Lacquered cigarette cases adorned with diamond crests, cabochon jewels and baguette cuts abounded in the style. New technology further shaped jewelry in this era, allowing for gemstone mosaics held in place with invisible settings, and jewelry that could be transformed from a necklace to bracelets and brooches. Art Deco pieces emphasized the bold and exciting.
The Clagett Bracelet
Made in the mid-1920s by Geoffroy et Eisenmann, the Clagett bracelet is shaped as a broad flat rectangle that wraps cuff-like around the wrist. Set on its platinum background is 626 diamonds and 145 colored stones with enamel images. The full length of the bracelet sports a landscape of two men hunting a lion on a pave diamond background. The bracelet was donated to the Smithsonian in 1993 by C. Thomas Clagett.
The bracelet was displayed in the 1925 Paris International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts, where it won Grand Prize. The exposition was influential to Art Deco, coining the term and boasting many examples of the new aesthetic. The Clagett bracelet’s bold hues and geometric shapes highlighted both a departure from the curved lines and muted colors of previous ideals and the pinnacle of Art Deco beauty.
The Greville Chandelier Earrings
Simple yet striking, the Greville Chandelier Earrings have had several owners. After they were altered by Cartier in 1922, they were purchased by Mrs. Greville, who gave them to the Queen Consort in 1942. Queen Elizabeth II received them as a wedding gift in 1947.
The earrings serve as a sampler of modern diamond cuts, featuring baguette, pear, half-moon emerald and other shapes mounted in platinum. Most of the 16 stones on each earring display straight lines and sharp angles popular during the 1920s, their geometric look enhanced by the stark light the platinum provides. The earrings were part of a royal diamond display in London 2012.
The Post Emerald Necklace
Inspired by East Indian art, this necklace is an example of Art Deco that heavily uses rounded forms. Forty seven of its seventy one emeralds are free form shaped, with the remaining twelve fashioned into beads. All of them are polished but unfaceted, favoring size over sparkle. Platinum and pave diamonds add shine and contrast to the emeralds.
The necklace was made between 1928 and 1929. It was bought by collector and philanthropist Marjory Merriweather Post, who wore it as part of a masquerade ball. Her daughter donated the necklace in 1964 donated the necklace along with other jewelry to the National Gem Gallery.