Mackay Emerald Necklace
|Catalog Number||NMNH G9775-00|
Gift of Mrs. Anna C. Mackay in 1984.This object was designed by Cartier, Inc.
The stunning Mackay Emerald was mined in Muzo, Colombia. The finest emeralds are found in the region around Muzo and Chivor, Colombia. These green gems were used by indigenous peoples for at least 1,000 years before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores in the 16th century. Although spurred primarily by their passion for gold and silver, the Spanish quickly recognized the potential of the exquisite green crystals and took control of the mines. Emeralds became popular among European royalty and were shipped from the New World by the boatload. The great richness of the Colombian mines led to a glut of emeralds in Europe, triggering a brisk trade of the gemstones to the Middle East and India. The Mogul rulers in India were especially fond of emeralds and encouraged a vast gem cutting and jewelry industry. Many finished pieces were traded back to Europe. The Mackay Emerald is the largest cut emerald in the National Gem Collection and is set in a pendant of diamonds and platinum designed by Cartier, Inc. The Art Deco style necklace was a wedding gift in 1931 from Clarence Mackay to his wife, Anna Case, a prima donna of the New York Metropolitan Opera from 1909 to 1920. The emerald weighs 167.97 carats and is set in platinum with 35 emeralds and 2,191 colorless round brilliant and step cut diamonds. Mrs. Anna Case Mackay bequeathed the necklace to the Smithsonian in 1984, and it is on display in the Gem Hall at the National Museum of Natural History.
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