Sapphires have been adorning the clothing and regalia of the influential for millennia, and continue to do so even to this day. When exploring the sapphire creations of the past, a number of sapphire brooches from recent history are unquestionably noteworthy.
An important piece of sapphire jewellery which is not only beautiful but also tells the story of where its gems were mined is the Conchita Montana Sapphire Butterfly. The Butterfly is an exquisite object originally designed by Paula Crevoshay, who named the piece “Conchita” in honour of her late mother, in collaboration with gemologist Robert Kane. This astonishing 14 karat gold trinket was designed to be wearable as both a pendant and brooch, or alternately can be used as the clasp on another piece of jewellery. A total of 27.97 carats of heated Montana sapphires are set into the Butterfly; two blue sapphire cabochons make up the Butterfly’s eyes and the rest of its body is covered in 331 brilliant cut pink, purple, yellow, orange and blue sapphires. All of the stones used in the Butterfly are meant to represent the fantastic diversity of sapphires and unique geology found in Rock Creek, Montana, the source of all 333 gems. The Crevoshay family donated the Conchita Butterfly to the Smithsonian in 2007, and since then it has been on display in the National Museum of Natural History for all to admire. The Conchita Montana Sapphire Butterfly is an exemplary piece of sapphire jewellery and it provides a comprehensive look at the character of Montana sapphires.
The Logan Sapphire brooch holds one of the most famous sapphires in the world. The Logan Sapphire is a massive 422.99 carat unheated cornflower blue cushion shaped Ceylon sapphire, and it is one of the largest faceted sapphires known. The gem was purchased by Colonel M. Robert Guggenheim from Sir Ellis Victor Sassoon, third Baronet of Bombay, who had apparently acquired the stone from an unknown Indian maharajah. Guggenheim gave the sapphire as a gift to his wife, Rebecca Pollard Guggenheim. In 1960, a year after her husband’s death, “Polly” Guggenheim donated the sapphire to the Smithsonian Institution as part of her grieving process, although she retained ownership of stone; when asked how she was able to let such a valuable item go, she said that “every time [she] looked at it, all [she] could think of was her cheating husband”. Polly married John A. Logan in 1962, and not only took on his name for herself, but also gave the name to the Logan Sapphire before relinquishing full ownership of the stone to the Smithsonian in April of 1971. The Logan Sapphire is mounted in a gold and silver brooch surrounded by 16 round brilliant cut diamonds, and it currently holds the title of the largest mounted gem in the National Museum of Natural History’s collection.
One of the more lavish sapphire jewels seen in recent times is the Côte D’Azur Brooch. In French, “côte d’azur” means “azure coast” presumably in reference to the enchanting cool blue of the brooch’s centre stone, a large Burmese sapphire. The sapphire is a cushion shaped 58.29 carat unheated sapphire which has fantastic colour and clarity; the stone has been described as “exceptional” by gemologists at the Swiss Gemmological Institute as “exceptional” and described as “remarkable” by gemologists at the Gübelin Gem Lab. The central sapphire is prong set into the white gold brooch and accented by a large floral branch motif covered in a multitude of other gems including carved blue sapphires, faceted sapphires of multiple colours, tsavorite garnets, coloured diamonds, tourmalines, spinels, and carved emeralds. The Brooch was designed by Chinese designer Anna Hu, whose works have been worn by numerous Hollywood celebrities and a few members of international nobility. On November 11th, 2013, the Brooch was sold as part of the “Magnificent Jewels” held by Christie’s in Geneva, Switzerland for the equivalent of $4,569,684. A gem-laden masterpiece, the Côte D’Azur Brooch is one of the most intricate pieces of sapphire jewellery to have graced the world stage.
All of these brooches have impressed those who have gazed upon them, and they will go down in history as some of humanity’s most splendid sapphire treasures. Learn about more famous sapphire jewellery in the next part of this series.
Here is some of our favourite sapphire jewellery from the Skyjems catalog:
© Yaĝé Enigmus