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.

The Tiffany Yellow Diamond

The Dastardly Past:  the Tiffany Yellow Diamond.

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“What a bonny thing,” he said.  “Think what crimes are committed for such playthings as this.  Great jewels are the devil’s pet bait.”  Sherlock Holmes, “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle”

From time to time, I plan to showcase examples of “the devil’s pet bait” in this blog, partly because jewels are an inducement to dastardly activity and partly because historic jewelry and jewelers fascinate me.  Today’s feature is the Tiffany Yellow Diamond.  This is a South African stone that weighed 287 carats when discovered at the Kimberley Mine in the 1870s.  It was cut into a modified antique cushion brilliant that reduced its weight to 128.5 carats.  It’s considered one of the largest yellow diamonds in the world.  It was purchased by Charles Tiffany and his eponymous company still owns it.  In 1961 they allowed Audrey Hepburn to wear it for publicity photos for the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

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