Tiffany Diamond on View at Smithsonian

The  Tiffany Diamond makes its first-ever appearance in Washington at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. The loan of the diamond celebrates a $1.1 million gift from The Tiffany & Co. Foundation. Also on view for the first time are two rare gemstones that were purchased for the National Gem Collection. The world-famous diamond will remain on view until Sept. 23.

The Tiffany Diamond is one of the largest fancy yellow diamonds ever discovered. It weighed 287.42 cts. in the rough when it was found in 1877 in South Africa. Tiffany & Co., purchased the stone and aptly named it. The diamond was cut into a cushion shape of 128.54 cts. with 82 facets—24 more than what is traditionally done—to maximize brilliance. It now appears in the “Bird on a Rock” setting, designed in the early 1960s by Jean Schlumberger. The “bird” is gold and platinum with white and yellow diamonds accented by a ruby eye.

In June 2006, the museum received a $1.1 million gift from The Tiffany & Co. Foundation, the grant-making entity of the internationally known jeweler, to establish a collection in its name as part of the museum’s National Gem Collection. The gift established an endowment for the acquisition of important gemstones for the collection to be known as “The Tiffany & Co. Foundation Collection.” The gift also made possible the creation of the exhibition case to display these and other important gemstones in the National Gem Collection Gallery.

Also on exhibit will be a rare purple 40.1-ct. elbaite (a member of the tourmaline family) and a 15.93-ct. garnet, exceptional because of its large size and rich green color. Both gemstones were purchased with funds from The Tiffany & Co. Foundation Endowment.

The gems and minerals halls of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History are among the most visited museum galleries in the world, attracting more than 5 million visitors every year. The National Gem Collection, created in 1884, is recognized for its breadth of world class precious gemstones, including the Hope Diamond, the most popular museum object in the world.