Smithsonian unveils ‘The Splendor of Diamonds’ exhibit

Seven of the world’s most extraordinary diamonds representing a rainbow of colors—red, orange, yellow, pink, blue, blue-green, and colorless—were unveiled Thursday The Harry Winston Gallery at the Smithsonian Institute’s Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

Jeffrey Post, curator of the national gem collection, presented six of the seven incredible color diamonds featured in “The Splendor of Diamonds” exhibit, which will run till September 15, in front of a throng of television cameramen and still photographers who were jockeying for position while armed guards kept close watch as the gems were wheeled into view.

The seventh diamond, the 59.60-ct. Fancy Vivid Steinmetz Pink oval brilliant, was temporarily mounted in a pendant and was worn by television star Jenna Elfman. The Steinmetz pink is the largest Fancy Vivid pink known in the world. Elfman, who claims her only jewelry are her jeans and her wedding ring, was having a wonderful time wearing the multi-million dollar pink diamond necklace. “It feels great!” exclaimed Elfman. “It has a good weight to it,” she noted, as she patted it with her hand. “And I actually feel the vibrations.”

Nir Livnat, CEO of Steinmetz, turned the media focus away from actual value of the gems. “We do sell diamonds,” said Livnat quietly. “But this exhibit is not about selling. It’s about three million people [the estimated number of visitors to the museum over the next three months] seeing seven of the rarest diamonds in the world.” Livnat and GIA’s president Bill Boyajian, also in attendance, said they were very pleased to be able to organize such an incredible collection.

The six diamonds on the rolling cart were situated next to Elfman, Post, and Livnat.

On the cart was the 203.04-ct. De Beers Millennium Star, D/Flawless (not just Internally Flawless) pear shape brilliant, mounted in a platinum and diamond pendant. Owned by DeBeers LV, the Millennium Star was cut by the Steinmetz Group, which took three years, and hundreds of practice models, to create the magnificent gem. Being mounted was LV’s way of pointing out it’s not just for a museum. Even a 200-ct. diamond can be worn, by anyone who can afford it.

Dwarfed only in size, next to the Millennium was the 5.11-ct. Moussaieff Red, the largest Fancy red diamond ever graded by GIA’s Gem Trade Lab. A spectacular gem, but in museum lighting it appeared more reddish pink than red. However, the red was still very noticeable, especially when placed next to the Steinmetz vivid pink.

Next to the red was the Allnatt, a 101.29-ct. cushion cut Fancy Vivid yellow, owned by SIBA Corp. The stone was cut beautifully in an old antique cushion style with high crown and deep pavilion, which not only showed off its incredible color, but also enhanced its dispersion. A truly exceptional stone, both for color and for shape.

Next on the pad was the 27.64-ct. Fancy Vivid blue heart shape “Heart of Eternity.” Steinmetz had also cut this gem, now in a private collection, and was one of the blue diamonds on display with the Millennium star when they were exhibited at the Millennium Dome in London in 2000. The shape of the heart was not anywhere as pleasing as the color, which was comparable to 45.52-ct. Fancy Dark Grayish-Blue Hope diamond just a few yards away.

Harry Winston’s Pumpkin was next on the pad; a 5.54-ct. cushion cut Fancy Vivid orange diamond. While it wasn’t formally announced at the exhibit, according to Winston spokesperson Carol Brodie-Gelles, the pumpkin is ripe for sale with a $3 million dollar price tag.

Finally, at the end of the pad, was the 5.51-ct. Fancy Deep blue-green “Ocean Dream,” owned by Cora Diamond, New York. It was obvious that the blue, the red, and the blue-green were cut specifically with saving weight and color, and not for beautiful design. That said, the blue-green is one of the very rarest diamonds known, with no record of any other diamond of this color and size. No wonder they saved the weight.

For more information about “the Splendor of Diamonds,” contact the Smithsonian at (202) 357-2700 or on-line at www.mnh.si.edu/exhibits/si-gems.