Historic Diamond Necklace Shines at the Smithsonian

It’s said only the Hope Diamond is more impressive than this stunning Edwardian necklace made by one of the world’s most famous diamond personalities. See all the sparkling details.


A silver necklace with more than 200 diamonds and featuring nine, rare blue diamonds was unveiled on Monday at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.

The 1910 Cullinan Diamond Necklace was given to the museum by an anonymous California donor, who specifically scheduled it to coincide with the institution’s 100th anniversary. The blue diamond necklace is set to become part of the museum’s permanent collection.


The stunning necklace with its elaborate bow design and lace-like style is an example of exquisite Edwardian craftsmanship. The silver double bow is entirely encrusted in diamonds, featuring two six vibrantly blue diamonds cradled within the bow’s loops. A stunning oval-shaped pendant holding a 2.6-carat blue diamond hangs from the center of the bow and accounts for nearly half of the total 5.32 carats of blue diamonds showcased in the piece.

While the diamond necklace is impressive in and of itself, the jewelry piece is possibly more famous for its history. “If it weren’t for the Hope Diamond, this would rank as one of the greatest gifts the museum has received. But the piece has a great history because of the Cullinan,” said Jeffrey Post, the curator of the National Gem collection.

The history of this necklace began in the early 1900s when Thomas Cullinan, a South African explorer, bought the South African Premier Diamond Mine. In 1905, one of his workers came across the biggest rough diamond ever discovered, weighing in at a jaw-dropping 3,106.75 carats.

The enormous diamond was named after Cullinan and sold, uncut, to the Transvaal government for 150,000 pounds. The Prime Minister of Transvaal decided to offer the diamond to the British King Edward VII as a gift, and King Edward received the diamond in 1907 in honor of his 66th birthday.

Expert diamond cutter, Mr. Joseph Asscher, was chosen to cut the diamond the following year, resulting in several diamond masterpieces that found their way to the British Crown Jewels. While this necklace was not made from that famous stone, it is said Cullinan commissioned the piece as a consolation prize for his wife – who was promised the world’s largest diamond for herself. The nine blue diamonds are said to represent the nine pieces of the Cullinan diamond now owned by England’s royalty.

Diamond lovers can view the historic artifact now in a specially designed display case that’s watched over by three security guards in the Harry Winston Gallery at the Smithsonian.

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