About Kunzite

Kunzite is the pink-to-purple form of the mineral known as spodumene. Kunzite was first discovered in California in the late 1800s.
Kunzite is the pink-to-purple form of the mineral known as spodumene. Kunzite was first discovered in California in the late 1800s.

Kunzite was first discovered during the late 1800s in the Pala Mountain region of San Diego County in California. It was first written about in 1905, described by William B. Gross, in Sunset Magazine, as “the most remarkable gem in which the world generally, and scientists in particular, are interested…” {p. 556}.

Mr. Gross relates that the first specimens of this rare and wonderful “heliotrope-colored” spodumene were discovered in the mine belonging to Frank A. Salmons. In the same year, Dr. George Frederick Kunz, who was the first mineralogist to identify kunzite as a new variety of spodumene, wrote a paper for the California State Mining Bureau.

While he discusses the importance of the Pala Chief mine owned by Frank A. Salmons, Dr. Kunz relates that the first kunzite specimens were actually sent to his offices in 1902, by Mr. Frederick M. Sickler and the partners of Tiffany & Co {2}. At the time, Mr. Sickler, who owned several claims in the Pala region, believed they were a type of tourmaline {2}.

A year later, Mr. Sickler announced that the kunzite samples he sent to Dr. Kunz were discovered in his White Queen mine, which Dr. Kunz wrote was on a ridge east of the Pala Chief mine owned by Frank A. Salmons {2}.

It was, Dr. Kunz writes, a colleague of his, one Charles Baskerville, a professor at the University of North Carolina, who proposed that the stone be named after the esteemed doctor who was the first to identify the gemstone as a new variety of spodumene {2}.

Dr. Kunz’s report appears to be the official record of kunzite’s discovery and initial introduction to the gemstone market. In it, the esteemed gemologist explains that the majority of kunzite crystals found in the Pala region, with the exception of those found in the Pala Chief mine, were cut in San Diego and distributed into the marketplace from there.

The Pala Chief crystals were purchased directly by Tiffany’s representatives and were shipped straight to New York, where they were cut, set, and sold directly to the firm’s elite clientele, who paid between $6 and $20 per carat for the rare and beautiful lilac-colored stone {2}.

Today, though kunzite continues to be harvested in the United States, the largest gemstone-quality producer is the Minas Gerais in Brazil {3}.


  1. Gross, William B. “Kunzite the Precious,” Sunset Magazine, October 1905, pp. 557-560.
  2. Kunz, George Frederick. “Kunzite–Spodumene,” Bulletin No. 37, Gems, Jewelers’ Materials, and Ornamental Stones of California. Issued in San Francisco, June, 1905, by the California State Mining Bureau, pp. 81-93.
  3. Schumann, Walter. Gemstones of the World. New York City: Sterling Publishing Company, Inc., 2009.

Tiffany’s Picasso Kunzite Necklace

In 1989 Tiffany & Co. donated the gorgeous Picasso Kunzite Necklace made by Paloma Picasso. This gorgeous 22.96-carat cushion-cut pink kunzite cocktail demonstrates the luminous quality of kunzite. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.
In 1989 Tiffany & Co. donated the gorgeous Picasso Kunzite Necklace made by Paloma Picasso. This gorgeous 22.96-carat cushion-cut pink kunzite cocktail ring demonstrates the luminous quality of kunzite. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.

The Picasso Kunzite Necklace is on permanent display at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. It was donated by Tiffany & Co. to the prestigious museum in 1989. Nearly ten years into her career as a jewelry designer, Paloma Picasso (1949-present), who designed this exquisite necklace, had become an internationally respected jewelry designer.

Gemstone Bikinis & YSL

Ms. Picasso first entered the world of jewels and gemstones in the late 1970s, after a stroke of imagination inspired her to craft necklaces out of the gemstone bikinis worn by the cabaret performers in the Folies Bergeres. At this time, she worked as a stylist for the shows {2}.

However, having discovered her passion in styling those flashy necklaces, she soon enrolled in jewelry design school {1}. Around that time, Ms. Picasso had become a chic fashionista. Currently, her name can be found in the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame {1}.

In the 1970s, Paloma’s penchant for vintage flea market clothes caught the eye of her friend and legendary designer, Yves Saint Laurent {4}. His “Scandal Collection” debunked the traditions of haute couture with its nod to the French Occupation, drag queens, and theatrical mixture of new and old {4}.

By the time Paloma graduated from design school, Mr. Laurent had been captivated by her sense of style for a number of years. Naturally, he was one of the first people to whom Paloma showed her first collection of jewels {1}. YSL immediately commissioned her to design a collection for his clothing lines.

Tiffany & Co.

Sometime later, Paloma went on to work for the House of Zolotas, where she refined her skills in gold and gemstones {1}. In 1979, after staging a window display for Tiffany’s, Ms. Picasso was invited by Tiffany’s design director, John Loring, to join the Tiffany design team {1}. Today, Paloma Picasso is one of a small handful of designers given their own signature collections at Tiffany’s.

In 1986, Paloma Picasso was well known for her signature use of large semiprecious stones in bold colors. John Loring is reported to have described the hallmark of her designs as “X’s, scribbles and zigzags, all sculpted in gold” {1}.

Four years later, the editors at Gems & Gemology credited her with “helping to broaden consumers’ acceptance of colored stones other than the ubiquitous ruby, emerald, and sapphire in high-fashion jewelry” {p. 87}. One of her favorite colored stones was kunzite, a pink-to-lilac colored form of spodumene.

The Picasso Kunzite Necklace

True to form, Paloma fashioned what has become one of the world’s most famous kunzite jewels. A marvelous cushion-cut, deep pink kunzite stone, which weighs an astonishing 393-60 carats, appears to float within the embrace of an 18k yellow gold and diamond ribbon. A Picasso X crosses beneath the gem’s base.

This exquisite pendant hangs from a string of 30 South Sea baroque pearls. The clasp is hidden within another ribbon X made of yellow gold and white diamonds. Ms. Picasso designed the necklace to commemorate Tiffany & Co.’s 100th anniversary.

~Angela Magnotti Andrews, Staff Writer


  1. About Tiffany & Co. “Paloma Picasso.” Accessed February 24, 2015.
  2. From the stage to the garden: Paloma Picasso talks inspiration with Vogue,” Vogue Australia, September 5, 2013.
  3. “Jewelry in the 1980s: A Retrospective,” Gems & Gemology, Spring 1990, p. 76-93.
  4. “Paloma Picasso, the seventies IT girl inspired YSL ‘Scandal Collection’.” A. G. Nauta Couture blog, June 29, 2014.
  5. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. “Picasso Kunzite Necklace,” Mineral Gallery. Accessed February 24, 2015.

Vera’s Spring Mountain Ranch

Spring Mountain Ranch, Nevada. Photo ©2013 Billy Kerr.
Spring Mountain Ranch, Nevada. Photo ©2013 Billy Kerr.

Vera Krupp moved to Las Vegas, where her large 33.19-carat Asscher cut diamond was seen whenever she visited town. Much like the diamond’s later owner, Elizabeth Taylor, Vera Krupp was a glamorous and ostentatious woman who thought nothing of wearing such a large glittering diamond wherever she went. Finally free of the doldrums of Germany and her listless marriage, she set to work reinventing herself as a rancher.

Spring Mountain Ranch

With her settlement from Alfried Krupp, Vera purchased a spread of 500 acres situated 26 miles outside Las Vegas proper. She set up for cattle ranching and took to country living like a fish to water. The land she purchased has a fascinating history dating back to 1829, when Antonio Armijo forged a trade route from Santa Fe to Los Angeles {7}.

Known as the Old Spanish Trail (now the Mormon Trail), this route ran east from Santa Fe, New Mexico, until it reached the Mojave Desert. Not daring to cut through Death Valley, Armijo jogged south to the San Gabriel Mission. This turning point was located right where Vera’s property now sits {7}. For decades, the site in Nevada served as a hideout to bandits who preyed upon those traveling the Old Spanish Trail {5}.

However, by 1860, according to Paul Papa, author of Discovering Vintage Las Vegas, the land had become a stopping off point for weary travelers. A one-room cabin and blacksmith shop were built on the land. The first real claim was made on the acreage in 1864, by Bill Williams, an outlaw who used the land to service his horses {5}.

In 1876, ranchers James Wilson and George Anderson filed a legal claim for property and established Sand Stone Ranch {6}. At some point, Anderson took his leave, entrusting the care of the land, and his two sons (reputed to have been born to a Paiute Indian woman {3}), to James Wilson.

In 1906, Wilson passed away and deeded the land to his stepsons. In 1929, Wilson’s stepsons sold the ranch to Willard George, who allowed them to remain on the ranch until their deaths. The tombstones of all three settlers, James Wilson, Jim Wilson, Jr., and Tweed, can be seen in the small cemetery that remains on the land today.

From Chinchillas to Diamonds

From 1929 to 1944, Willard George, a notable furrier, raised chinchillas on the property. He also raised cattle on the ranch. In 1944, Chester Lauck (‘Lum’ from the Lum and Abner radio show), leased the ranch from Mr. George. In 1948, Lauck bought it outright and added a ranch house constructed from sandstone and redwood.

Lauck renamed it the Bar Nothing Ranch and continued to raise cattle. In 1955, Vera Krupp came along and bought the 500-acre estate. She moved in and increased cattle operations to support the Herefords and Brahma bulls she raised. Adopting the Diamond V brand, she renamed her estate Spring Mountain Ranch {7}.

Among her regular habits was to ride her horse Sweetheart around the ranch and to wear her favorite Harry Winston diamond ring at all times, including when she went to town. This habit ended April 10, 1959, after which time, an “in-the-know source” told journalist Norm Clarke that she “kept the massive diamond safety-pinned to her bra at all times” {2}.

A Harrowing Encounter

The reason for this change? A harrowing encounter with armed robbers. Vera was never quite the same after this experience. Before this, the ranch offered luxurious privacy. After, a frightening sense of isolation. To ward off the fear, she ordered an addition for her home and a star-shaped badge with her name on it {7}.

The addition was a secret passageway and bedroom camouflaged “behind pine panels in Krupp’s boudoir” {4}.  The badge represented her newly purchased status as a deputy sheriff. She was not one to mess around {7}. For the next 8 years, Vera continued to tend to the duties of ranch life.

For reasons unknown to this writer, Vera sold Spring Mountain Ranch in 1967. Not wanting to see her estate land in the hands of developers, Vera attempted to sell to the parks department. Unfortunately, the state was unable to afford the $1.1 million asking price {6}.

Instead, in July 1967, Vera sold Spring Mountain Ranch to the Hughes Tool Company, a subsidiary owned by Howard Hughes. She took her Russian art collection and her massive Harry Winston diamond and moved off the property. She passed away three months later, and the diamond ring went to auction the next year at Sotheby’s New York, where it was purchased by Richard Burton for Elizabeth Taylor.

A Park for All

Hughes Tool maintained Spring Mountain Ranch as a working cattle ranch, changing only the brand. Cows and bulls leaving the property were now stamped with a capital T over a capital H {7}. Howard Hughes never lived at the ranch. It’s possible that Mr. Hughes never set foot on the property after her purchased it {4}.

In 1972, for $1.5 million, Hughes sold the property to Nevada developers, Fletcher Jones and William Murphy, purchased the estate. Public protests against their plans to raze the land and build a large housing development led to their eventual decision to sell the land to the Nevada Division of State Parks.

Today, the Spring Mountain Ranch State Park plays host to visitors from all over the world. Regular tours of the ranch house and grounds afford tourists an up-close look at many of the original furnishings, photos of former owners, and a peek into the secret boudoir of Vera Krupp.


  1. Burbank, Jeff. Las vegas Babylon: Tales of Glitter, Glamour, and Greed. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008.
  2. Clarke, Norm. “DJ finds out popularity doesn’t translate into job security,” Las Vegas Review, January 4, 2002.
  3. Collier, Lynn. “Rustic ranch house, park lure visitors,” Las Vegas Review, September 18, 1996.
  4. Jones, Jay. “Vestiges of Las Vegas’ glory days,” Los Angeles Times, June 5, 2011.
  5. Moreno, Richard. Nevada Curiosities: Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities & Other Offbeat Stuff. Guildford, CT: Morris Book Publishing, LLC, 2009.
  6. Oberding, Janice. The Haunting of Las Vegas. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing Company, Inc., 2008.
  7. Papa, Paul W. Discovering Vintage Las Vegas: A Guide to the City’s Timeless Shops Restaurants, Casinos, & More. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014.

Vera Krupp and Her Diamond

Vera Krupp. Image credit: Alamy Images.
Vera Krupp.

We’ve been following the legacy of Elizabeth Taylor’s famous Krupp Diamond, now called the Elizabeth Taylor Diamond. This gorgeous stone is a 33.19-carat Asscher cut diamond mounted in a Harry Winston platinum band. On its shoulders rest two baguette diamonds set horizontally.

Vera Krupp

The Krupp Diamond began its public journey on the finger of Vera Krupp sometime between 1952 and 1956. By 1956, we find Frau Krupp growing weary of life with her husband in Essen, Germany, where the average temperatures hover between 40 and 50 degrees (F) and the rain falls fairly steadily year-round.

There are many who write of Alfried Krupp’s love for his wife. Several authors, including Jeff Burbank, quote historian William Manchester, who wrote the book The Arms of Krupp in 1968. According to Burbank, Manchester described Herr Krupp as “defenseless against such a woman” {2, p. 117}.

Apparently, Vera was an assertive woman with few inhibitions who was one of the only people who could make Alfried, generally a straight-faced man, smile {Burbank}. Her beauty, ambition, and intriguing ways served Alfried well during high-powered business dinners {1} .

However, Alfried was a driven man on a mission to restore his family’s company to its former glory. As true as his love for Vera may have been, it is well documented that Alfried Krupp owed his prime allegiance to the business.

Krupp Steel Works

The notorious Krupp steel works, which supplied Germany, and many other countries, with weapons and armor for nearly all the European wars of the 21st century, were in dire straits after the Nuremberg trials. Alfried alone could set things right and bring Krupp back to life.

This took nearly all of his time, and after a few years of neglect, the cultured and sophisticated Vera hungered for warmth and excitement. Burbank writes that she eventually abandoned the “hideous, provincial, joyless city” of Essen in 1955, and purchased a ranch in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Though the couple’s parting appears as a mere blip in the history of Krupp, as described by the majority of its various biographers, it doesn’t take a lot of guess work to realize that Vera was done, not only with Essen, but with Alfried Krupp.

Divorce & Alimony

In October 1956, Vera filed for divorce. According to Peter Batty, who wrote The House of Krupp, Vera claimed that Alfried refused to have marital relations with her, pressured her to rescind her American citizenship, and “refused her a home life” {1, p. 305}.

Whether he wanted to contest the divorce or not, Alfried was unable to attend the hearing scheduled on American soil due to his convictions in 1948. The divorce was made final in January 1957, and a sum of ₤1,800,00 was requested immediately, followed by a request for annual alimony payments of ₤90,000 per year {1}.

According to Mr. Batty, the actual amounts settled upon by the two parties are undisclosed to public record due to the extenuating circumstances surrounding Mr. Krupp’s inability to be present for the divorce proceedings. To be sure the settlement was sizable. Given her regular visits into town sporting diamonds and platinum, most prominently the Krupp Diamond, Vera appears to have lived more than comfortably after her marriage ended.


  1. Batty, Peter. The House of Krupp. New York: Stein and Day, 1966.
  2. Burbank, Jeff. Las vegas Babylon: Tales of Glitter, Glamour, and Greed. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008.

Halle Berry Wears The Pumpkin Diamond

Halle Berry at the 2013 Golden Globes. Photo ©2013 Jenn Deering Davis.
Halle Berry at the 2013 Golden Globes. Photo ©2013 Jenn Deering Davis.

On March 24, 2002, the Pumpkin Diamond graced the left pinky finger of one of America’s most celebrated actresses. If you haven’t seen Halle Berry’s acceptance speech for the Oscar she won for best actress in Monster’s Ball, you have missed out on a moment of authentic beauty.

Authentic Beauty

The clip begins with Russell Crowe, wearing a knee-length black wool-crepe tux by Armani {People}, saying, “And the Oscar goes to….” Behind him a large screen features live insets of the five nominees: Renée Zellweger for Bridget Jones’s Diary, Sissy Spacek for In the Bedroom, Nicole Kidman for Moulin Rouge!, Judi Dench for Iris, and Halle Berry for Monster’s Ball.

After that momentous pause, Russell Crowe says: “…Halle Berry in Monster’s Ball.” His announcement is immediately followed by a roar from the crowd. The insets now show a combination of expressions: Ms. Zellweger does not appear surprised, Sissy Spacek smiles and claps her hands in front of her face, Nicole Kidman appears satisfied, Judi Dench is thoroughly pleased, and Halle Berry appears so shocked she almost looks horrified.

As the camera zooms in on her, Halle’s stunned look of surprise remains frozen on her face for a few more seconds. Then she begins exclaiming, “Oh, my God! Oh, my God! Oh, my God!” over and over again, as her smiling mother embraces her.

So Much Bigger

Imagine what it must have been like. Her first Oscar win, and against some of America’s most astounding actresses. She is so overcome, she can hardly walk up the stairs. The audience is on its feet as Russell Crowe hugs her and helps her gain her composure. She accepts the Oscar and simply stands there crying wide-mouthed sobs, before she manages to say it one more time: “Oh, my God!”

It is one of Hollywood’s most historic moments, as the crowd cheers for her again. She finds her breath and a small amount of composure before declaring: “This moment is so much bigger than me!

“This moment is for Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll. It’s for the women that stand beside me, Jada Pinkett, Angela Bassett, Vivica Fox. And it’s for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened.” Her composure shatters, and she begins to sob again.

Halle Berry Thanks Everyone

In the moments that follow, Halle Berry thanks everyone she can think of who spurred her on, gave her a chance, and helped her make history with her art.

With tears streaming down my face, it dawns on me that in 2002, Halle Barry shattered the colored woman’s ceiling. She did so by trusting those who believed in her. And by allowing them take her deeper into her craft than she had ever been before.

I also understand the importance of telling a jewel’s story, for in telling the story of one piece of jewelry, we tell the story of the world one person at a time.

This Time, Notice the Diamond

This moment in history deserves to be celebrated over and over again. If you can, I encourage you to watch it again. And this time, I ask you to allow your eyes to find the beautiful orange diamond ring Halle wears on her left pinky finger.

Our first real glimpse of it comes after she’s taken the stage. As she walks toward Russell Crowe, she covers her face with both hands. There it is, shimmering in the stage lights. It’s there for only a moment, before the two actors share their brief moment of privacy.

Then, Ms. Berry steps to the microphone, still speechless. In a gesture of pure gratitude, she blows her peers a kiss as she sobs. The Pumpkin Diamond radiates warmth and vibrancy as she extends her left hand toward the cameras.

She’s weeping so hard that all she can do then is stand facing her audience, right hand clutching her Oscar, left hand squeezed tightly into a fist. It’s the first time we can see the orange tint of the diamond.

As she finds her composure, she grips the Oscar in her left hand. The astonishing beauty of one of the rarest, most notable orange diamonds is nearly lost in the pathos of the moment. Its orange color nearly matches that shine of her golden Oscar.

Do you think the Winstons knew the gorgeous 5.54-carat fancy vivid orange diamond would play such a significant role in history only six years after they purchased it?

by Angela Magnotti Andrews, Staff Writer


  1. Famous Diamonds. “The Pumpkin.” Accessed January 30, 2015.
  2. Harry Winston. “Our Story: Jeweler to the Stars.” Accessed January 30, 2015. http://www.harrywinston.com/our-story/stars.
  3. Oscars YouTube Channel. Video: “Halle Berry Wins Best Actress: 2002 Oscars. Published by Oscars on May 23, 2014.
  4. “Oscars Fashion: A Beautiful Time,” People, Vol. 57, No. 13, April 8, 2002.
  5. William Goldberg. “Orange Diamonds: Colors of the Fall,” October 24, 2012. http://www.williamgoldberg.com/diamond-jewelry/2012/10/orange-diamonds-colors-of-the-fall/.

The Pumpkin Diamond

Fancy Vivid Yellow Orange Diamond by Leibish & Co. Photo Credit: Flickr under CC License.
Fancy Vivid Yellow Orange Diamond by Leibish & Co. Photo Credit: Flickr under CC License.


On March 24, 2002, when Halle Berry, wearing the celebrated Pumpkin Diamond on her left pinky finger, made her landmark Oscars acceptance speech at the 74th Academy Awards, history was made. Forever forward, the rare orange diamond will be linked to the year that the first African American woman held in her hands the golden statue that honors those men and women who have distinguished themselves in the film industry.

Ms. Berry won the award for her role as Leticia Musgrove in Monster’s Ball. The film tells the story of a poor colored woman who falls in love with a white correctional officer who, she finds out perhaps too late, played a major part in her husband’s execution. While the tale is most definitely about the racial divide, it is also about the dividing lines of poverty, family, gender, and our judicial system.

In her acceptance speech, Berry hints at the depths to which she had to go to nail the role: “…my husband, who is just the joy of my life, and India [her husband’s daughter], thank you for giving me peace, because only with the peace that you’ve brought me have I been allowed to go to places that I never even knew I could go. Thank you. I love you and India with all my heart.

“Our director, Marc Forester, you’re a genius. You’re a genius. This movie-making experience was magical for me because of you. You believed in me, you trusted me, and you gently guided me to very scary places. So thank you.” Ms. Berry went on to thank as many people as she could remember in that shell-shocked moment.

The Pumpkin Diamond

While Halle Berry is on stage making her gut-wrenching speech, she wears on her left pinky the Pumpkin Diamond. It radiates with warmth and energy as she throws a silent, sobbing kiss to her peers in the audience. It glows with golden light as she grips the Oscar in her left hand as she honors all the people who made her moment possible, going back a hundred years. It shimmers elegantly in the stage lights as she covers her face in disbelief.

Could Ronald Winston have possibly known the role that his rare orange-colored Pumpkin Diamond would play in American history that night?

No Thought of Winning


For reasons known only to him, he graciously lent the 5.54-carat fancy vivid orange diamond to Halle Berry for her night at the Oscars. She was nominated, but even she had no thought of winning. She told Libby Brooks, writer for The Guardian, that she had not even planned an acceptance speech.

During the interview, she laments her missed opportunity to thank many more people, most importantly Billy Bob Thornton, without whom her win would have proven impossible. It seems like it was just like any other Oscars night for the House of Harry Winston.

The practice of lending pieces to celebrities for red carpet events may have even been invented by the firm’s founding father, Harry Winston. He was always carrying large diamonds on his person, slipping them onto potential clients’ fingers when they least expected it. Nothing sells a diamond like seeing it in person, feeling the weight of it, falling in love with its mesmerizing qualities.

And nothing captures the interest of collectors like seeing a diamond make history. It would be pure conjecture to guess at the motives behind the Winstons’ choice to slip the brilliant orange diamond on the actress’s finger. She had a one-in-six chance to win, up against America’s most celebrated actresses, Nicole Kidman, Sissy Spacek, Judi Dench, Renee Zelwegger. No wonder she hadn’t planned an acceptance speech.

Making History

But the odds played well for Ronald Winston. His diamond was now making history, as it should. Nearly as rare as Halle Berry’s breakthrough win, this diamond deserved recognition. It was found in 1997, in the Central African Republic. William Goldberg purchased the stone and then had it fashioned into a cushion cut before selling it at auction the next year.

In 1998, during an auction hosted by Sotheby’s, Ronald Winston, representing the House of Harry Winston, purchased the phenomenal orange diamond for $1.3 million {6}. According to Robert Genis, writer for The Gemstone Forecaster, Ronald Winston expressed a desire to name the stone The Tangerine. However, since the stone was purchased the day before Halloween, his staff urged him to connect the stone to the autumn holiday {2}.

Rare Vivid Orange

Ronald Winston and Phillip Bloch set to work right away to design a classic platinum setting for the stone {1}. They mounted it between two specially cut white diamonds. The resulting jewel resembles many antique rings from the late 1800s.

Following the 2002 Oscars, the House of Winston loaned the Pumpkin Diamond to the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. For three months, the jewel remained on public display in a special exhibit called The Splendor of Diamonds. This exhibition was sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution, The Steinmetz Group, and the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).

The Splendor of Diamonds exhibition showcased seven of the world’s most rare and valuable colored diamonds. The Pumpkin was the only orange diamond included. What makes this orange diamond so special, according to the Smithsonian Institution, is that the majority of orange diamonds manifest with a brown undertone.

The Pumpkin Diamond does no such thing. It is pure vivid orange, catapulting it into diamond history as one of the largest fancy vivid natural orange diamonds in the world {6}.

And that is how diamonds make history.

by Angela Magnotti Andrews, Staff Writer


  1. Famous Diamonds. “The Pumpkin.” Accessed January 30, 2015.
  2. Genis, Robert. “Collecting Orange Diamonds,” The Gemstone Forecaster, Vol. 21, No. 4, Winter 2003.
  3. Oscars YouTube Channel. Video: “Halle Berry Wins Best Actress: 2002 Oscars. Published by Oscars on May 23, 2014.
  4. “Oscars Fashion: A Beautiful Time,” People, Vol. 57, No. 13, April 8, 2002.
  5. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. “The Splendor of Diamonds.” Accessed January 30, 2015.
  6. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. “The Splendor of Diamonds: The Pumpkin Diamond.” Accessed January 30, 2015.
  7. William Goldberg. “Orange Diamonds: Colors of the Fall,” October 24, 2012.

Orange Citrines and Garnets

Capture the Essence! of Orange with this Citrine & Peridot Ring in 14k Gold.
Capture the Essence! of Orange with this Citrine & Peridot Ring in 14k Gold.

Orange citrines or garnets are a beautiful choice for an engagement ring, especially if your budget is tighter than fancy colored diamonds or sapphires might allow. Both rate between 6.5 and 7.5 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness, making them suitable for finger rings worn on a daily basis.

This gorgeous 14k gold ring boasts a 2.45-carat reddish-orange, oval-cut citrine as its center, with two smaller oval peridots flanking it on either shoulder. The modern lines of this ring are accentuated by several rows of white diamonds, and the  gallery features decorative piercing and texturing. Truly, this citrine ring offers a remarkable choice for a woman of distinction.

Orange Citrines

Citrines are part of the quartz family, which means they are abundant in nature. Citrines range in color from citrus yellow to red-brown. However, according to Dr. Lance Grande and his colleague Allison Augustyn, citrines of a dark golden or orangeish-yellow hue are the most desirable. (Dr. Grande is the senior vice president and head of Collections and Research at The Field Museum in Chicago. Allison Augustyn is also on staff at The Field Museum.)

It is the oxidation of iron (the mixing of iron and oxygen) within the crystal structure of citrine that lends citrine its variation of hues, including orange. This oxidation is primarily the result of heat and/or irradiation.

Quartz in its non-radiated form is typically colorless. With a slight amount of irradiation, it turns pink or purple (amethyst). However, when heated to high temperatures or exposed to higher levels of radiation, the iron and oxygen combine together to produce yellows, reds, browns, and oranges.

According to the GIA, most citrine is found in Brazil, though small pockets have been discovered in Bolivia and Africa {1}. Orange citrine has been associated with success and prosperity, especially for those who work in sales. In some circles it has been called The Merchant’s Stone. Citrine is the birthstone for November and symbolizes success, hope, and strength.

Orange Garnet

In appearance, orange garnets appear to be the twin sister of citrine. However, their chemical differences suggest they are perhaps more like cousins. Unlike citrines, which consist of one mineral group, quartz, which is colored by varying combinations of iron and oxygen, orange garnets belong to one subtype of the mineral tribe called garnet.

Garnets have a silicate base like citrines, but unlike citrines they are not comprised solely of silicone dioxide. Instead, the silicate base combines with some combination of iron, manganese, chromium, calcium, and/or aluminum {4}. Iron in the mix lends the color red, manganese the colors yellow and/or orange, and chromium lends green. Other factors can also affect color, though with orange garnets the color is chiefly attributed to the presence and quantity of manganese {4}.

Within the garnet tribe, there are several possible chemical variations. Almandine (violet-red hues) and Pyrope (blood-red hues) are the most common, and therefore the most popular. However, the orange Spessartines (yellow-to-orange) have also been highly desirable since the early ’90s.

According to Dr. Grande and Ms. Augustyn, Spessartine garnets became especially popular when Mandarin Garnet, a particularly fiery orange-red variety, was discovered in 1991, in Namibia, Africa. Since its discovery, all forms of Spessartine garnet have been popular {2}. In addition to Africa, orange garnets can also be found in Southeast Asia, South America, North America, and Australia {2}. With a rating of 7 to 7-1/2 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness, Spessartine garnets prove themselves a lovely choice for an engagement ring.

If you’d like to see our selection of orange garnets and citrines, we welcome you to make an appointment to visit our Seattle-area showroom.


  1. GIA. “Citrine: November’s Sunny Birthstone.” Accessed January 30, 2015.
  2. Grande, Lance and Allison Augustyn. Gems and Gemstones: Timeless Natural Beauty of the Mineral World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009.
  3. Minerals.net. “The Gemstone Citrine.” Accessed January 30, 2015.
  4. Williams, Cara, F.G.A. “The Colors and Varities of Garnet,” In the Loupe Volume 1, May Issue, 2010, pp. 4-5.

Orange Gemstones in Jewelry

Capture the Essence! of Orange-Colored Gemstones with this Vintage Natural Vivid Orange Sapphire Engagement Ring. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.
Capture the Essence! of Orange-Colored Gemstones with this Vintage Natural Vivid Orange Sapphire Engagement Ring. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.

Orange gemstones are an exquisite choice for a woman with flair. According to the GIA, there is always room for orange in your wardrobe {1}. The bright, warm color offers a standout look which perfectly complements dark- or honey-toned skin. Rings, necklaces, and bracelets punctuated with orange diamonds, sapphires, or citrines can add dimension and even sophistication to your style.

Perhaps you’re one of those women who looks fantastic in orange. If so, you may even want to consider an orange gemstone for your engagement ring. For such an important piece worn daily, we recommend pairing color with classic design elements.

The engagement ring pictured here is a perfect example. Featuring a 1.40-carat natural vivid orange sapphire, the cathedral setting offers a touch of class.  Further elegance is achieved with the two channel-set white diamonds. The orange sapphire, white diamonds, and platinum band offer a perfect blend of classic spice.

Orange Sapphires

The array of colors offered by orange sapphires is truly astonishing, with stones ranging from subtle pastel to bright reddish-orange. The GIA describes everything from soft peach, to vivid tangerine, to saturated reddish-orange {2}.

Sapphires achieve their orange hues from traces of chromium and iron. Chromium lends the stone its reds, while iron lends its yellows. The result is an astonishing display of colorful warmth.

According to the Natural Sapphire Company, orange sapphires are mined in small quantities in Australia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Kenya, and Madagascar.  Natural orange sapphires are rare, which is why we recommend you purchase them from a reputable jeweler to ensure that you are getting a good value for the price you pay.

Which Orange Gemstone is Right for Me?

Orange sapphires are not the only option if you’re in the market for an orange gemstone for your engagement ring. Many other stones come in this hue and are perfectly suited to everyday wear. A short list of your options includes orange diamonds, garnets, or citrines.

If you’ve decided to make orange your engagement ring color, we applaud your singular taste and offer the following checklist for choosing the perfect orange gemstone:

  • Consider Durability. Because you will wear it every day, your engagement ring stone should rate no less than a 6.5 on the Mohs Scale of Mineral Hardness.
  • Consider Shade and Saturation. Are you attracted to pumpkins and carrots, or do you prefer cantaloupes, apricots, and peaches? Do deep colors draw you in, or do you find pastels more appealing? Choose a color you can live with every single day that will complement your current wardrobe.
  • Consider Size. Unless you’re opting for a vivid orange diamond, your price points for orange gemstones are likely to afford you a larger stone. Depending on your budget, you may very well be in the market for a stone larger than 1 carat.
  • Consider Cut. Color saturation will be enhanced by a good cut. Make sure you look at a number of different stones, and pay close attention to color distribution. A good cut will ensure an even distribution of color throughout the stone. A poorly cut stone will appear lighter in the center and darker on the outer edges.

Are you looking for something rare?

Something that makes you stand out? 

We’d be honored to show you our collection of orange gemstone jewelry. Simply, fill out this form to schedule a visit to our Seattle-area showroom.


  1. GIA. “Fall Fashion Ideas: Orange Gems.” Accessed January 29, 2015.
  2. GIA. “Sapphire Quality Factor.” Accessed January 30, 2015.
  3. Grande, Lance and Allison Augustyn. Gems and Gemstones: Timeless Natural Beauty of the Mineral World. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2009.
  4. Minerals.net. “The Precious Gemstone Sapphire.” Accessed January 30, 2015.

Alfried and Vera Acquire the Krupp Diamond

Devastated Krupp Works in Essen, taken before the city was occupied by the US Army in 1945.
Devastated Krupp Works in Essen, taken before the city was occupied by the US Army in 1945. Photo credit.

While the mine which produced the Krupp Diamond appears to be undocumented, the stone is closely associated with the famed Krupp mines of Germany’s steel age {6}. From these mines, the family Krupp pulled raw iron, coal, manganese, and more before transforming it into steel.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, this steel was molded and shaped into formidable armaments, including Big Bertha (used during WWI), as well as the Paris Gun and Fat Gustav (colossal cannons used during WWII). During World War II, Krupp was well represented at the front lines of every German battle, showing their loyalty to the Fuehrer of the Holocaust.

Slave Labor Camps


In addition, Krupp industries openly participated in labor camp operations. In an attempt to recover from the loss of German life exacted during the war, Nazi leaders initiated a new order for extermination by labor. German industrialists were encouraged to set up armament factories within or near concentration camps.

While the Jews and prisoners of war housed in these facilities were spared the gas chambers, they were perhaps the more unfortunate victims of the Holocaust. These camps were essentially the same as the extermination camps. They featured close quarters, barbed wire, abuse and threats, starvation, inadequate medical attention, and armed guards whose job it was to ensure the work was done {7}.

Elizabeth Borgwardt, in an essay titled “Commerce and Complicity: Human Rights and the Legacy of Nuremberg,” writes of the cold hard truth of Krupp’s complicity in this new policy throughout 1942. She writes of the 70,000 (perhaps as many as 100,000) laborers used solely by Krupp, reporting that a fair number of them were children {4, p. 95}. According to her research, the Krupp family insisted on using this labor force to build their factories and war machines, and that at no time did the family or its senior employees express remorse for their actions during the war {4}.

Alfried Krupp

In 1948, Alfried Krupp, as acting owner of his family’s company Fried. Krupp, was tried and convicted on charges of exploitation of occupied countries, for committing crimes against peace, and for participating in crimes against humanity to include “use for slave labor of civilians who came under German control, German nationals, and prisoners of war” {6}.

The judge sentenced Alfried to 12 years in prison and ordered the confiscation of all of his assets, holdings, and properties. However, in 1951, in accordance with the orders of John J. McCloy, American High Commissioner for American-occupied Germany, Alfried was released. What remained of his vast holdings and fortune was returned to him.

He went immediately to work restoring the Krupp name and industry. While Russia demonstrated their full support of Alfried’s rearmament strategies, Britain and France fought to prevent Krupp from reacquiring the coal and iron mines and steel mills that had been sold off prior to his release {1}.

Alfried Marries Vera

In a rare moment of what some consider self-indulgence, while attempting to please the Russians and put the rest of Europe at ease, Alfried ventured to Hamburg. It was here that he met the petite, blonde divorcee Vera Hossenfeldt. Within a year, the two were married, and Vera attempted to make Essen, Germany, her home.

Peter Batty describes Vera as a dedicated hostess, and the writer for the World War II Database calls her Krupp’s chief publicist. A former actress and shop girl, she must have been thrilled to be wearing diamonds and gowns, courting the heads of state from around the world. The publicity events held at the House of Krupp were the talk of the town for several years {1}.

At some point during this time, Vera Krupp began wearing a 33.19-carat Asscher-cut diamond. The Krupp Diamond was mounted in a platinum Harry Winston band with two baguette diamonds set horizontally on the shoulders. Reports are vague about when and why the stone was purchased.

Some report that this diamond ring was her wedding gift from Alfried {2}, while others imply Vera’s purchased it after she moved to Nevada in 1955 {3}. That it was a wedding gift is possible, though it is far more likely that Vera acquired the diamond from Harry Winston in the States. It is widely believed that the stone was purchased while Vera was married to Alfried, which would place it in her possession before 1956.


  1. Batty, Peter. The House of Krupp. New York: Stein and Day, 1966.
  2. “Krupp – Steel and Diamonds,” World’s Luxury GuideApril 25, 2012.
  3. Oberding, Janice.  The Haunting of Las Vegas. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing Company, 2008.
  4. Schulman, Bruce J. Making the American Century: Essays on the Political Culture of Twentieth Century America. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.
  5. Simkin, John. “Alfried Krupp.” Spartacus Educational. Accessed January 10, 2015.
  6. Watson, Peter. The German Genius: Europe’s Third Renaissance, the Second Scientific Revolution and the Twentieth Century. London: Simon & Schuster, 2010.
  7. World War II Database. “Alfried Krupp.” Accessed January 10, 2015.

The Krupp Diamond Legacy

Big Bertha in action. This was one of Krupp's first large cannons. Photo credit.
Big Bertha in action. This was one of Krupp’s first large cannons. Photo credit.

The Krupp Diamond, most famously owned by Elizabeth Taylor, swirls with stories of war crimes, marital neglect, armed robbery, and secret compartments. In this early history you’ll read of the founding of the Krupp family and the acquisition of the Krupp Diamond by its first owner.

Vera Krupp was married to Alfried Krupp in 1952. Three years prior, in 1948, Alfried Krupp was convicted in Nuremberg for crimes against peace and humanity for his abhorrent actions during World War II. The Krupp Legacy begins in the 1600s in Essen, Germany.

German Industrialists

Keen merchants and industrialists, the Krupps were acute business women* and men who came to dominate the armaments industry in western Germany throughout the 20th century {1}. Their fabrication of guns and armor began under the keen watch of Catherina Krupp-Huyssen in the early 1600s {1}. Catherina’s brother, Anton Krupp, sold gun-barrels, while other members of the family were believed to have sold cannon balls and bayonets during the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) {1}.

In 1737, Friedrich Jodokus Krupp, a grocer and cattle-dealer, married up. With his heiress wife’s money, he established the House of Krupp at the center of Essen, Germany {1}. A widower in his forties, Friedrich married his distant relation, Helene Amalie, several years later. It was Helene, a widow after only six years of marriage to Friedrich, who acquired shares in the family’s first coal mines and purchased an iron-fulling mill and an iron-foundry.

The Krupp dynasty began manufacturing (as opposed to brokering) armaments as early as 1843, under the direction of Alfred Krupp, great-grandson of  Helene Amalie {1}. The dread guns of Krupp brought triumph for Prussia in the 1870s, after which it seemed the whole world “was scrambling to buy Krupp…” {1, pp. 83 & 93}.

In 1877, Alfred ensured that Krupp guns served on both sides of the Russo-Turkish {1, p. 96}. In the 1890s, his son and heir, strongly leading Krupp into the 20th century, equipped Germany’s new navy {1, p. 106).

Bertha Krupp

After Alfred’s death in 1902, the House of Krupp, reported to be worth more than 20 million pounds, passed to Fritz’s 16-year-old daughter Bertha {1}. In 1906, the young heiress married Gustav von Bohlen und Halbach, who took the Krupp name for his own.

Under Gustav’s direction, the Krupp family continued to monopolize the gun industry in Germany, their steel dominating the German battlefields of  World War I. During the three years following the First World War, Germany and the House of Krupp were as entwined as braided rope. It should come as no surprise that in these years of peace the House of Krupp was urged to manufacture such non-militant products as false teeth, garbage cans, and trains {1}.

Although the official record relates that Krupp refrained from manufacturing armaments between 1918 and 1936, Peter Batty, in his definitive biography, The House of Krupp, writes of an article written by Gustav Krupp in 1942 {p. 144}. In this article, Gustav reports that while the Krupp weapons of World War I were being destroyed, his factories were manufacturing such products as “padlocks, milk-cans, [and] cash registers” {p. 145}.

Much to the chagrin of his heir, Gustav revealed that these benign products served as cover for Krupp’s allegiance to the new Kaiser, Adolf Hitler. Rather than keeping the agreements made under the Treaty of Versailles, he assured Herr Hitler that Krupp would “begin the rearmament of the German people without any gaps of experience…” {p. 145}.

Alfried Krupp

In 1907, Bertha Krupp gave birth to the sole heir of the Krupp dynasty. Raised under the rule of Germany’s most notorious Kaiser, Alfried would serve the German Reich without hesitation. It is not known whether Alfried was aware of his father’s disregard for the Treaty of Versailles, but Batty reminds us of Alfried’s loyalty to his family and to Germany {p. 173}.

By the time World War II broke out, Alfried was leading Krupp in his father’s stead. Peter Batty calls him “far too essential to Hitler and his generals for him to be allowed to go off to fight” {p. 175}. Just how essential was he?

According to an official military document prepared by the German military in 1942, Krupp supplied to the Germans a host of tanks and U-boats; anti-tank, anti-aircraft, self-propelled guns; as well as rocket-assisted and armor-piercing shells {1}. And that is the short list of weapons and armor supplied to Germany’s troops during the hellish reign of the Fuhrer.

Not only did Krupp supply these weapons of mass destruction, but he also seems to have initiated the detestable labor camps where countless human beings lost their lives. According to Jeff Burbank, who wrote Las Vegas Babylon; Tales of Glitter, Glamour and Greed, Alfried established an outsourced company to oversee the labor camps.

This company forced 100,000 concentration camp detainees to make munitions and build factories for Krupp throughout Germany and German-occupied states. Burbank states that the same Krupp company managed the concentration camp Bushmannshof, which housed the infants and toddlers of the forced laborers.

This man’s second wife, Vera, would be the very first woman to wear the Krupp Diamond. The diamond was purchased at some point between 1952 and 1955, and Vera Krupp favored the stone until her death in 1967.

*To read the early portion of Peter Batty’s book, The House of Krupp, is to see the German tradition of women and men reigning as equals in business and household affairs. On pages 30-31, we read of Helene Amalie Krupp, who “proceeded to bring up her two small children while at the same time improving and expanding the family business.”


  1. Batty, Peter. The House of Krupp. New York: Stein and Day, 1966.
  2. “Krupp – Steel and Diamonds,” World’s Luxury GuideApril 25, 2012.
  3. Simkin, John. “Alfried Krupp.” Spartacus Educational. Accessed January 10, 2015.
  4. Watson, Peter. The German Genius: Europe’s Third Renaissance, the Second Scientific Revolution and the Twentieth Century. London: Simon & Schuster, 2010.
  5. World War II Database. “Alfried Krupp.” Accessed January 10, 2015.