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Bismarck Sapphire Necklace [G4753]
CorundumRubies and sapphires are varieties the same mineral: corundum. Pure corundum, composed of aluminum and oxygen atoms, is colorless. Color variations come from light interacting with impurities that replaced atoms of aluminum in the growing crystals.
Hover over color tiles above to learn what this object tells us about the history of the Earth
About this object
The 98.57-carat Bismarck Sapphire is mounted in a platinum necklace designed by Cartier, Inc., set with 312 baguette and round brilliant cut diamonds and accented with 8 square-cut sapphires. The magnificent sapphire exhibits the highly-prized deep blue color of sapphires from Burma. Historically the finest sapphire gems came from Burma, Sri Lanka, and the Kashmir region of India. Although sapphires occur in a wide variety of colors, traditionally blue has been the most popular and valuable. Sapphire is the gem variety of the mineral corundum. Pure corundum is colorless, but small amounts of impurity atoms can impart a range of colors. In this case, iron and titanium are responsible for the beautiful blue color of the sapphire. The Bismarck Sapphire necklace is a wonderful example of jewelry that was produced during the Art Deco Period (1920-1935). The dazzling jewelry was dramatically different from the jewelry of the earlier periods, shifting from softer colors and flowing sinuous lines of the Art Nouveau and Edwardian eras to bolder, brighter colors and straight lines. New geometric cuts for gems complimented the symmetry and streamlined look of Art Deco jewelry. Emeralds, sapphires and rubies were extremely popular. The necklace is named after its donor, Countess Mona von Bismarck, an American socialite who married German Count Eduard von Bismarck in the late 1930s. She donated the necklace to the Smithsonian in 1967, and it is on display in the Gem Gallery at the National Museum of Natural History.
denotes specimens currently on exhibit
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