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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Royal Butterfly Brooch

Cindy Chao Butterfly Brooch Front. Cindy Chao Black Label Masterpiece Royal Butterfly Brooch created in 2009 and was donated to the museum by Cindy Chao the artist in 2012.  Composed of 2,328 gems, totals 77 carats. The brooch is set with fancy-colored and color-changing sapphires and diamonds, rubies and tsavorite garnets. The centerpieces of the butterfly's wings are four large-faceted diamond slices stacked atop a pave layer of faceted diamonds, creating a pattern resembling the microstructure and scale of a living butterfly's wings. Collection Number G10656
Photo by Donald E. Hurlbert. Click to zoom.
Catalog Number NMNH G10656-00

Gift of Cindy Chao in 2010.This object was designed by Cindy Chao.

In 2009, Cindy Chao created the Royal Butterfly to symbolize the metamorphosis she had undergone from a jewelry designer to a jewelry artist. Meticulous to detail, her approach to both design and execution resulted in this object d’art. The intricate design and craftsmanship of the Royal Butterfly can be admired from all possible angles - it is 3-dimensional. It is complexly and sophisticatedly layered and set with nearly 77 carats of gemstones. The 2,318 gems in the butterfly make this brooch rich in color. Among the diamonds are four large rough diamond slices stacked atop a pave layer of faceted diamonds, forming the centerpieces of the wings. These rough diamonds have a faceted top and flat bottom, and before faceting, they had a natural pattern that appeared similar to the microstructure and scale on a butterfly’s wings. Gemstones encrust the back of the butterfly as well. The Royal Butterfly is set with sapphires, fancy-colored sapphires, color-change sapphires, rubies, diamonds, fancy-colored diamonds, and tsavorite garnets.


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