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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Tiffany Amethyst Necklace

Tiffany Amethyst Necklace (NMNH G10538-00) from the National Gem Collection.
Photo by Chip Clark. Click to zoom.
Catalog Number NMNH G10538-00
Locality Siberia, Russia
Weight 56 ct

Gift of Ms. June Rosner and Russell Bilgore in 2007.This object was designed by Tiffany & Co.

The 56ct square cushion-cut amethyst is set in an 18k yellow gold necklace designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany, circa 1915. The deep purple color, with flashes of red, make this amethyst both beautiful and valuable. The naturalistic motif and the decorative style of the pendant is a wonderful example of Art Nouveau jewelry that was being made at the turn of the 20th century (1890-1919). The pendant is suspended from an 18k yellow gold chain that has a sinuous double figure-8 design. The pendant highlights an enormous 56ct amethyst that was most likely a gem procured by George F. Kunz, chief gemologist at Tiffany’s at the time. The amethyst is delicately surrounded by vines, leaves and grapes, a motif Tiffany used often, and one that is perfect for the color of the gem itself. According to Roman mythology, amethyst was colored purple by the god of wine and was thought to offer protection against drunkenness. It derives its name from a Greek word meaning “not to intoxicate.” Not only is it a remarkable piece of historical jewelry, but the amethyst gem is much larger and of higher quality than any others in the National Gem Collection from this Russian locality. It was generously donated to the Smithsonian in 2007 by June Rosner and Russell Bilgore.



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