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TITLE: Celebrity Jewels


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For most of human history, gems belonged almost exclusively to royalty. A queen, an emperor, a duchess, and a maharajah were among the past owners of the four jewelry pieces in this exhibit. Examine their magnificent gemstones, and you'll see why—through the centuries—they remain such objects of desire.




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Part of a Legend
The large diamonds in these modern earrings were once set in a much older pair. According to sworn documents, the original earrings were owned by Marie Antoinette, the queen of France who was guillotined in 1793 during the French Revolution. The earrings were said to be a gift from her husband, King Louis XVI. According to one legend, she had them with her when she was arrested fleeing the French Revolution in 1791. Grand Duchess Tatiana Yousupoff of Russia later acquired the earrings. They stayed within her family until 1928, when the diamonds were reset by Cartier, Inc.





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Gifts From Napoleon
The French Emperor Napoleon I (1769-1821) gave these two pieces of jewelry to his second wife, Empress Marie Louise. The diadem was a wedding present in 1810. Napoleon gave his wife the necklace a year later to celebrate the birth of their first son. Both were made by the French jewelers Nitôt et Fils. Marie Louise, who was Austrian-born, bequeathed the two pieces to the royal family of Austria.






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Designed For an Indian Maharajah
Many of the gemstones in this stunning necklace date back to the 17th century, when Spanish conquistadors shipped large quantities of emeralds from South America to Europe and Asia. Despite its name, the necklace has no known association with the infamous Spanish Inquisition. The large diamond and emerald gems were probably cut in India in the 1600s. Stringing the gems was an extremely delicate procedure that entailed drilling small holes in the large emeralds and the 16 largest diamonds. Legend has it that the necklace was owned first by Spanish royalty. The Maharajah of Indore acquired it in the early 20th century.


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