The Spoonseller’s Sapphire

The Dastardly Past:  The Spoonseller’s Sapphire.

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Discovered in Bengal by a seller of wooden spoons, this 135 carat, velvet blue stone was previously known as the Spoonseller’s Sapphire.  Over the centuries it passed through many hands, including those of the Ruspoli famiy of Italy, who gave it its new name.  in the nineteenth century, it was acquired by the tsar of Russia, and was set in a kind of Russian crown/headdress called a kokoshnik, by Cartier in 1909 for the Grand Duchess Marie Pavlovna.  It later came into the possession of Queen Marie of Romania, and afterwards her daughter, Ileana, who sold it to “a famous New York jeweler” in 1951.  Its current whereabouts are unknown.

The Ruspoli Sapphire was the subject of a research effort described in the journal Gems and Gemology 51 no. 4 (Winter 2015):  https://www.gia.edu/gems-gemology/winter-2015-sapphire-ruspoli-sapphire-historical-gemological-discoveries . In this study, the authors unravel the tangled lines of provenance of the Ruspoli sapphire and the Grand Sapphire of France, now housed in the French national museum of natural history in Paris, with which it has traditionally been confused.  The article also provides insight into the murky history of famous jewels and how they are so often at the center of mysteries large and small.

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