The Spanish Inquisition Necklace consists of two strands of antique-cut diamonds and emeralds to which a lower pendant and upper chain containing modern, brilliant-cut diamonds were added. The necklace contains 374 diamonds and 15 emeralds. The emeralds undoubtedly came from Colombia, while the diamonds were obtained from India, the only source of diamonds until 1723. The large, central, barrel-shaped emerald weighs approximately 45 carats. Due to its rich color and exceptional clarity, it is one of the world's finest emeralds. The stones were probably cut in India in the seventeenth century, making them the earliest cut gems in the National Gem Collection. Although the origin of the necklace's name is unknown, it was probably created this century in reference to its similarity to other jewelry of the period. However, according to legend, at least a portion or a variation of the necklace belonged to Spanish royalty and was later worn by ladies of the French court. The necklace was purchased by the Maharaja of Idore in the early twentieth century. In 1948, Harry Winston purchased the necklace from the Maharaja's son. The necklace then became part of Winston's "Court of Jewels" traveling exhibition. Cora Hubbard Williams of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania bought the necklace from Winston in 1955 and donated it to the Smithsonian Institution in 1972.
Image Number: 95-40466
Catalog Number: G5113
Bequest: Mrs. Cora Hubbard Williams