Smithsonian adds 77-carat brooch to gem collection

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History has an addition to its famous gem collection: It's a butterfly brooch made of 2,300 gems.

The "Royal Butterfly Brooch" was created in 2009 by Taiwanese jewelry artist Cindy Chao. She is donating the piece to the museum, making it the first Taiwanese-designed item in the National Gem Collection. It goes on display Wednesday.

The Royal Butterfly is composed of 2,328 gems, totaling 77 carats. It includes colored and color-changing sapphires and diamonds, rubies and tsavorite garnets. 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 on display.


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