Gem-Filled Brooch Joins Smithsonian | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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Gem-Filled Brooch Joins Smithsonian

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The Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History has an addition to its famous gem collection: a brooch made of 2,300 gems.

The "Royal Butterfly Brooch" was created in 2009 by Taiwanese jewelry artist Cindy Chao. She donated the piece to the museum, making it the first Taiwanese-designed item in the National Gem Collection.

The brooch is composed of 2,328 gems, totaling 77 carats. It includes colored and color-changing sapphires and diamonds, and rubies. The centerpieces of the butterfly's wings are four large-faceted diamond slices.

Curators say it sparkles in daylight, but under ultraviolet light in the dark, it glows. Chao put its value at $680,000.

The butterfly joins the Hope Diamond and Marie Antoinette earrings currently on display.

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