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The Hope Diamond, the world’s most famous diamond, began another chapter in its already illustrious history. For the first time the diamond is on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in a setting other than its historic Cartier-designed setting.
The new temporary setting, “Embracing Hope,” was designed by Harry Winston Inc. and unveiled and placed on public display Nov. 18. The event marks the 50th anniversary of the Hope Diamond’s donation to the museum in 1958 and the 100th anniversary of the museum. The new exhibit also coincides with the world premiere of the Smithsonian Channel documentary film, Mystery of the Hope Diamond, which debuts Nov. 21.
More than 100,000 people selected the stunning new design in an online vote sponsored by the Smithsonian Channel. Master craftsmen at Harry Winston Inc. then spent eight months creating the setting. The new platinum setting surrounds the legendary deep-blue diamond with an extraordinary 340 baguette diamonds totaling 66 carats. It will be on display for a limited time, after which the Hope will be returned to its historic setting.
As a part of this celebration, Harry Winston Inc. announced that it will make a minimum $1 million donation to support educational initiatives and the National Gem Collection at the Smithsonian through its new Harry Winston Hope Foundation.
“We feel privileged to be a part of the Hope Diamond’s historic journey and are happy to have this unique opportunity to do something special with the diamond to commemorate the anniversary of Harry Winston’s gift,” said Jeffrey Post, curator of the National Gem Collection. “It is due to the generosity and support of donors like Harry Winston that we have been able to build such an esteemed collection and make it available to the American public.”
When distinguished jeweler Harry Winston gave the Hope Diamond to the museum in 1958, he made a lasting gift to the American people that has since become one of the most renowned museum icons in the world. The gem inspires more than 7 million visitors a year with its fascinating scientific story, historical significance and intriguing tales of a curse. It is the most visited and most popular object in the entire Smithsonian.
“Looking back on the past 100 years of the museum’s history, it is undeniable that the arrival of the Hope Diamond is one of the most important historical landmarks,” said Cristián Samper, director of the museum. “Without it, the National Gem Collection wouldn’t be what it is today, one of the largest and most important gem collections in the world. It is fitting that we celebrate that milestone with another, the unveiling of the Hope Diamond as visitors have never seen it before.”
“Mr. Winston understood that the true value of these magnificent gems went well beyond their monetary worth,” said Frédéric de Narp, president and CEO of Harry Winston Inc. “It was his dream to help educate the public more about these precious stones through a National Gem Collection. To get this started, in 1958, he donated his most precious treasure, the Hope Diamond, to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.”
The Smithsonian Channel’s documentary, Mystery of the Hope Diamond, is narrated by Academy Award Winner Kim Basinger and includes footage of model Hilary Rhoda who wore the necklace for a photo session. The high-definition film follows the famous gemstone from its geological formation to its origins in a mine in India about 350 years ago to its mysterious journey though Europe and its final home at the Smithsonian. The unveiling of the diamond in its dazzling new design coincides with the film’s world premiere Nov. 21 at 8 p.m. EST.
“Hollywood couldn’t make up a drama like the story of the Hope Diamond,” said David Royle, executive vice president of Programming and Production for the Smithsonian Channel. “It’s a fantastic mix of jaw-dropping beauty, mythic curse, untold wealth, larger-than-life characters and cutting-edge science. We’re proud to tell the definitive story and share it with the American people—not only on Smithsonian Channel, but also for free on smithsonianchannel.com, YouTube and iTunes.”
About the National Museum of Natural History
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, located at 10th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W. in Washington, D.C., welcomes more than 7 million visitors annually. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (except Dec. 25). Admission is free. More information about the museum is available at www.mnh.si.edu or by calling (202) 633-1000, TTY (202) 633-5285.
About the National Gem Collection
The Smithsonian’s gem and mineral collection, with 10,000 gems and 350,000 mineral specimens, is one of the largest of its kind in the world. The collection is for exhibitions and scientific research. It traces its origins to the minerals that were bequeathed by James Smithson along with the money he designated to the United States to establish the Smithsonian Institution. The National Museum of Natural History received a donation of 1,316 gems in 1894, and in 1958, New York jewel expert and jeweler Harry Winston gave the Hope diamond, which triggered more donations, resulting in the now-famous National Gem Collection—a must-see exhibition for Smithsonian visitors.
About Smithsonian Channel
The Smithsonian Channel is a joint venture between Showtime Networks Inc. and the Smithsonian Institution. It was formed to create new channels to showcase scientific, cultural and historical programming based largely upon the assets of the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum complex. Smithsonian Channel features original documentaries, short-subject explorations and innovative and groundbreaking programs highlighting America’s historical, cultural and scientific heritage. Visit Smithsonian Channel on the Internet at www.smithsonianchannel.com.
About Harry Winston Inc.
Founded in New York City, Harry Winston Inc. has inspired connoisseurs worldwide through its exquisite fine jewelry and timepiece designs for almost 80 years. The history of the House of Harry Winston includes some of the most famous jewels in the world, including the Hope Diamond, the Lesotho and the Jonker. With 20 retail salons worldwide in key locations, including New York, Beverly Hills, Calif., Paris, London, Tokyo and Hong Kong, Harry Winston jewels are an enduring icon of international glamour. For more information on Harry Winston, visit the website at www.harrywinston.com.
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