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Smithsonian adds 77-carat brooch to gem collection

Tuesday - 3/5/2013, 4:55pm  ET

This undated handout photo provided by The Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History shows one side of the "Royal Butterfly Brooch" . The museum is unveiling the newest addition to its famous gem collection with 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. (AP Photo/Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History)

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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Online:

National Museum of Natural History: http://www.mnh.si.edu/


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