• A Jubilee Procession

    The Royal Procession Passing Over London Bridge, 20 June 1897. Reproduction of Helen Thornycroft's painting. Photo Source: Art-ist. The Royal Procession Passing Over London Bridge, 20 June 1897. Reproduction of Helen Thornycroft's painting. Photo Source: Art-ist.

    by Angela Magnotti Andrews

    Today* in the news, I read about a Jubilee Rock Concert scheduled for today in celebration of Queen Elizabeth's 60 years as monarch. The lineup of rock musicians features primarily British artists, including Sir Elton John, Sir Paul McCartney, and Dame Shirley Bassey.

    However, a few Americans artists round out the lineup: Stevie Wonder and will.i.am. This concert, and other grand celebrations, have been in the making for several years now.

    The last time such preparations were being made in the UK was in January 1897, when in answer to her customary prayer to be of use to her country, it was decided that the Empire would celebrate a grand festival in honor of Queen Victoria's 60 years as queen, a feat no other British monarch had achieved.

    She agreed to the celebration, though in lieu of her weakened health she requested that her public appearance be restricted to one day of public festivities, June 22, 1897.

    After only five months of planning, Queen Victoria commenced the day with a special family Thanksgiving service held on June 20, 1897, in St. George's Chapel, which included the singing of Prince Albert's Te Deum and Bishop How's Jubilee hymn (musically arranged by Sir Arthur Sullivan).

    The entire British Empire scheduled Jubilee services at 11 o’clock in every chapel, synagogue, and church across the empire. Can you imagine standing on the streets of London at 11 o’clock that morning? While it certainly was no rock concert, surely the sounds of the bells and voices lifted in celebration and thanksgiving would have been a wonder to behold!

    Later that day, Queen Victoria took up her procession through the streets of London, with even the sun making an appearance just as the guns in Hyde Park broadcast her departure from Windsor Palace.

    In her own words, Victoria declared: “No one ever, I believe, has met with such an ovation as was given to me, passing through those six miles of streets…the crowds were quite indescribable, and their enthusiasm truly marvellous and deeply touching. The cheering was quite deafening, and every face seemed to be filled with real joy.”

    And I hope that Queen Elizabeth II has had this very same experience this weekend. There is nothing quite like the joy of love, honor, and appreciation for a public life lived well.

    *Originally published June 4, 2012 on Jewelry-History.com.


    1. Barr, Robert. "Queen's Jubilee: Rock concert at Buckingham Palace." Associated Press. Last Modified June 4, 2012. http://news.yahoo.com/queens-jubilee-rock-concert-buckingham-palace-110146194.html.
    2. Longford, Elizabeth. Queen Victoria: Born to Succeed. New York and Evanston: Harper & Row, 1964.

  • View Over 100 Stunning Trilliant-Cut Gemstones at The GIA Museum

    A Rainbow of Trilliant-Cut Gemstones on Display at the GIA Musuem. Photo by Robert Weldon, Courtesy of Roz & Gene Meieran Collection. Photo Source: GIA Museum. A Rainbow of Trilliant-Cut Gemstones on Display at the GIA Musuem. Photo by Robert Weldon, Courtesy of Roz & Gene Meieran Collection. Copyright 2002-2013 GIA Museum.

    Triangles bear some of the richest symbolism of all geometric shapes. Point-up, they represent aspiration, male energies, fire, the sun, and stability. Point-down, they represent female energies, the moon, water, grace, and the creative life-force of the womb.

    The Trilliant Cut, based on the shape of a triangle and thereby replete with the symbolism afforded all triangles, is one of the most exquisite fancy cuts for gemstones. Developed in the early 1900s by Joseph and Abraham Asscher of the Royal Asscher Diamond Company, the Trilliant Cut was tradmarked in 1962 by the Henry Meyer Diamond Company of New York.

    Made with either 31 or 50 facets, a trilliant-cut gemstone is usually shaped with equivalent sides featuring straight edges, though a curved version is sometimes used. Most often these stones, which when cut to the correct depth display excellent fire, are used as accent stones, though a large one would make a beautiful central stone.

    On display in the Atrium, just as you walk through the doors of The GIA Museum in Carlsbad, California, visitors can view 100 trilliant-cut gemstones. Ranging in size from a demure 7 carats to a gargantuan 140-carat stone, these brilliant gemstones represent gem species of nearly every color on the spectrum, including the rich blue of tanzanite, the verdant green of emerald, and the oranges, pinks, reds, and blues of topaz.

    Loose and on display, like bits of beautiful eye candy, these scintillating triangular gemstones are sure to impress even the youngest member of your party. The GIA Museum is dedicated to strengthening awareness of gems, jewelry, and gemology through exhibits and programs that educate and inspire. To that end, the museum offers free guided tours to the public, though visitors must register by phone or email at least 24 hours in advance.

    Museum guests will experience first-hand the Trilliant Exhibition, as well as several concurrent exhibitions, including Aluminati: Students to Stars, Tourmaline CarvingsZoltan David Jewelry, and more. The museum also has on display several photographic exhibits documenting different aspects of gemological pursuits, as well as the comprehensive mineral and gem material collection of Edward J Gübelin and an an exhibit featuring antique diamond cutting instruments.

    The Museum is part of the extensive 18-acre Robert Mouawad Campus, home of the Gemological Institute of America Headquarters. The campus also includes the GIA's Carlsbad laboratory, the G. Robert Crowningshield Research Center, and the Richard T. Liddicoat Gemological Library and Information Center.

    If classes are in session, your tour will include an eye-witness view of future gemologists and jewelry designers perfecting their craft. Visitors also have full access to the library, which boasts 38,000 books, international journals, photos, videos, and the Cartier Rare Book Collection. Truly, the GIA Museum is a treasure trove for anyone with a penchant for shiny bling. As one happy visitor declared, "Considering the whole thing was free, you can't afford to miss this unique experience" {cited}.

    For more information, or to schedule your visit, you will find all the information you need on the GIA website.

  • The History and Characteristics of Invisible Settings

    Invisible Set Princess Cut Diamond Engagement Ring

    This solid platinum estate engagement ring features a stunning 1-carat central round brilliant diamond set in a gorgeous four-prong mounting. Along the shank, 24 princess-cut diamonds are embedded side-by-side in an invisible setting.

    Developed in France in the mid-1800s, the invisible setting gives the appearance of a floating gemstone mosaic. Set side by side, the stones are notched by expert jewelers and snapped into place within a wire framework hidden beneath the surface of the mounting. The effect is dazzling, as the light is free to emit greater radiance across unhindered stones.

    In 1933, Van Cleef & Arpels, the famed Paris maison, patented their exclusive invisible setting, called the Mystery Setting™. The Mystery Setting™ is most often used to create daring color, with sapphires, rubies, and emeralds set in VC&A's larger showstopping pieces, such as in their beautiful flower brooches, stunning necklaces and bracelets, and ornate earrings.

    In bridal jewelry, the invisible setting is used in two ways. First, as seen in the pictured engagement ring, as a sensational way to showcase princess- or baguette-cut accent stones. Second, the invisible setting allows several smaller diamonds to appear as one large diamond, as seen in this lovely diamond and yellow sapphire halo ring.

    Invisible settings are one of the most difficult mountings to make, and they are one of the most susceptible to potential loss of stones. The delicacy of this mounting makes it a poor choice for brides who work regularly with tools or heavy equipment. You will want to remove an invisible set ring before working in the garden, doing heavy housework, or using tools, especially hammers. If your stones do loosen or pop out, be sure to choose an expert jeweler with experience in invisible settings to examine and repair your ring.

    Of course, it is this same delicacy that makes an invisible set engagement ring a most stunning choice for the bride who wants sophisticated lines and lots of sparkle. Be sure that you purchase your ring from a reputable dealer in engagement rings, and examine it carefully with your fingers. The surface should be smooth and even. If there are any rough surfaces or if any of the stones are uneven, keep looking. Your perfect engagement ring will be able to withstand the tests of time, so don't settle for poor construction.

  • Queen Victoria's Jubilee Diamonds

    Queen Victoria poses for her Diamond Jubilee in 1897. Photo: Public Domain. Queen Victoria poses for her Diamond Jubilee in 1897. Photo: Public Domain.

    by Angela Magnotti Andrews

    In the official portrait for her Diamond Jubilee, Queen Victoria sits regally in a black silk dress fashioned with panels of grey satin and black net accented by silver embroidery.

    The skirt of the dress is nearly completely shrouded in beautiful lace, either white or gray. She wears a delicate crown with alternating cross pattee and fleur-di-lis, in similar fashion to the George IV diadem.

    The entire crown is paved in diamonds and features larger diamonds that appear to float around the perimeter of the band. Rising from the cross pattee, diamond-paved arches meet in the middle beneath a diamond-paved monde with a central cross pattee sitting in state atop the monde.

    It appears in her portrait that the arches and central cross pattee were removed (or they had not yet been placed), as she wears the simple circlet upon her head.

    In addition to the dainty crown, Victoria wears a stunning diamond necklace with matching diamond earrings. The Queen had this necklace made in replication of Queen Charlotte’s necklace, ordered to be returned to the Hanoverian family in 1858.

    She had twenty-eight diamonds removed from a sword hilt and a couple of Garter badges. Each of the diamonds was set in a collet, a coronet-shaped claw that holds an individual stone. The pendant stone on this striking replica is the famous Lahore Diamond, which served double duty as the central pendant on the Timur Ruby Necklace.

    Her earrings were made in the fashion of the day, with a large brilliant cut diamond against the ear and a smaller brilliant just below it. The two large pear-shaped drop diamonds were also “borrowed” from the Timur Ruby necklace. These beautiful diamonds were originally set as side stones in the Koh-i-Nur armband.


    1. Wikipedia. "The Personal Jewel Collection of Elizabeth II." Accessed May 29, 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Personal_Jewel_Collection_of_Elizabeth_II.
    2. The Free Dictionary by Farlex. "Collet." Accessed May 29, 2012. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/collet.
    3. The Royal Collection. "Queen Victoria's diamond necklace and drop earrings." Accessed May 29, 2012. http://www.royalcollection.org.uk/eGallery/object.asp?object=100003&row=0&detail=about.
    4. Penhorwood, Claire. "Victoria and Elizabeth: A tale of 2 Diamond Jubilees." CBCnews World. Last modified May 28, 2012. Accessed May 29, 2012. http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2012/05/25/f-diamond-jubilees-victoria-elizabeth.html.
    5. Hughes, Kristine and Victoria Hinshaw. "The Longest Reigning Monarchs." Number One London Blog. Posted May 19, 2012. Accessed May 29, 2012. http://onelondonone.blogspot.com/2012/05/longest-reigning-monarchs.html.
    6. Queen's 60 Diamond Jubilee. "The Royal Collection." Accessed May 29, 2012. http://www.thediamondjubilee.org/diamond-jubilee-exhibitions.
  • Designer Spotlight: Bergio

    Blue Sapphire Engagement Ring. Mounting by Bergio.

    A solid platinum mounting with diamond-paved shanks houses this magnificent natural blue sapphire set in place by Bergio's classic corner-prong setting. Triangular cuts emphasize the  beautiful cut of this 1.35-carat oval-cut blue sapphire, while at the same time allowing maximum light to spark off the brilliant stone.

    Once again, Bergio delivers timeless elegance with a contemporary edge. Berge Abajian, CEO and Head Designer of Bergio, strives to envision the woman who will one day wear his rings. Class, sophistication, and elegance are her constant companions. Her style is uniquely hers, and she is just as likely to choose a romantic blue sapphire as a traditional white diamond for her engagement ring.

    Perhaps her dress will hearken back to bygone days--the A-lines and mermaid gowns of the 1930s and 1940s, but with a contemporary flare. Whatever she chooses, a Bergio bride is the ultimate art form.

    Just as she strives for perfection in preparing for her wedding, the team at Bergio strives to create a perfect piece of "jewelry that reflects all the beauty and vitality a woman possesses" {cited}. With every ring, they promise to deliver a creation of perfect beauty, seamlessly blending classic elegance with subtle flair, that will enhance a woman's allure without overpowering her.

    If you are a Bergio bride, then this gorgeous blue sapphire ring, with its stunning platinum lines and its classic touch of elegance, may be just the ring for you.

  • Another Historical Diamond Jubilee

    Queen Elizabeth II, 2012. Diamond Jubilee Portrait Sitting. Photo Credit: CAMERA PRESS/John Swannell. Queen Elizabeth II, 2012. Diamond Jubilee Portrait Sitting. Photo Credit: CAMERA PRESS/John Swannell.

    by Angela Magnotti Andrews

    Jewelry history unfolds as we speak*. Even now, preparations are being made across Britain for Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee celebration. Indeed, even the commercial and private banks of England will close on Monday, June 4, and Tuesday, June 5, 2012, so everyone may participate in the celebration.

    This year's Diamond Jubilee marks the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign. She will be the second reigning monarch to have served the British Empire long enough to celebrate this most exciting of festivals.

    The last time England celebrated a Diamond Jubilee was in June of 1897. During a time when European monarchs rose and fell as steadily as the North Atlantic tide, September 23, 1896, dawned as a stunning moment in Queen Victoria’s life.

    She had surpassed her grandfather, George III, as the longest-reigning monarch. Just nine months later, on June 16, 1897, she arrived in Windsor Castle to make preparations for the grand celebration of her Diamond Jubilee.

    *Article first published June 1, 2012 on Jewelry-History.com.


    1. Rappaport, Helen. Queen Victoria: A Biographical Companion. Oxford: ABC-CLIO, 2003.
    2. Menkes, Suzy. "The Queen of Diamonds." The New York Times Online. Published May 28, 2012. Accessed May 29, 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/29/fashion/queens-diamonds-play-a-role-in-the-diamond-jubilee.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1338314736-k3ET7WQmuBTBwLtVYe8REA.
    3. Wikipedia. "Queen Victoria." Accessed May 29, 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_victoria.
  • Wallace Chan's Exquisite 'Guanyin' Sculpture is Star of Luxeford Hong Kong's Upcoming (May 22, 2013) Fine Jewels Auction

    'Guanyin' by Wallace Chan. Photo Courtesy of Luxeford Hong Kong Ltd. 'Guanyin' by Wallace Chan. Photo Courtesy of Luxeford Hong Kong Ltd.

    "The Goddess of Mercy ‘Guanyin’ is depicted sprinkling the potion of salvation in a sinuous stream which continues in intaglio as the potion pours onto the crystal base, proceeding to flow seamlessly into the world. She is dressed in a windswept robe decorated with bamboo leaves, her hair in a chignon, and decked with a crown embellished with the Buddha sitting serenely in the clouds."

    So reads the catalog entry for the upcoming sale hosted by Luxeford Hong Kong, Ltd. on May 22, 2013. The pride felt in celebrating Hong Kong's own Wallace Chan is palpable, from the pages of their catalog to the enthusiasm of their staff's generous response to this writer's inquiries.

    And it is no wonder. Mr. Chan's pursuit of art in jewelry has made a stirring impact on the jewelry industry. After viewing image after image of his astonishing sculptures and jewels, I wrote a note to myself: "They are so haunting; so exquisite it hurts."

    Mr. Chan's approach to crafting jewelry is as exquisite as his pieces. He strives for the perfection of every piece he envisions. Each piece is crafted by his own hands, often with gems set upon gems, held in place by cutting-edge techniques forged in his own workshop after many hours of meticulous study.

    At many points along the way Mr. Chan has met with obstacles--whether lacking the proper tools or or techniques to perfect his work. At these times, while he has been known to toss a piece out and start over again, he has just as often learned a whole new skill set in order to give birth to his stunning visions. At one point, he studied mechanical engineering in order to make his own tools. At another point, he developed a brand new cutting technique, dubbed the "Wallace Cut". He also devoted a whole season of his life to coaxing the secrets out of titanium, a metal he now uses in nearly every piece he makes.

    Having immersed himself in the pursuit of harnessing the varied aspects of light and reflection, he has become so adept in the techniques of jewelry design that he is now able to bend the rules in order to "create freely and set new standards"--the mark of a true master {cited}. Where most jewelers use gold or silver to set gemstones in place, close inspection of Mr. Chan's masterpieces reveal prongs of diamonds or emeralds holding sapphires, rubies, aquamarines, or other richly-colored gemstones in place.

    With every piece, every technique, Mr. Chan tells a story of Chinese Zen. This statue of Guanyin, pouring forth the waters of salvation in her white robes, stands as a symbol of mercy, compassion, salvation, and enlightenment. She is favored in Chinese lore as the champion of the people, having renounced her own reward for enlightenment (Nirvana) in order to "teach and transform living beings" {cited}. She listens attentively to the cries of the world.

    Just as her male counterpart, Avalokitesvara, "granted compassion wondrous as a great cloud, pouring spiritual rain like nectar, quenching all the flames of distress" {cited}, Guanyin pours out compassion and mercy upon those she visits, relieving their suffering, restoring peace and security, eliciting joy and contemplation, and thereby opening their minds to receiving the truth of enlightenment.

    Sculpted out of rock crystal in the very early stages of Mr. Chan's artistic endeavor, this breathtaking statue of Guanyin tells a beautiful story of love, compassion, and mercy with its fluid lines and ethereal way of capturing the light.

    If you're planning a trip to Hong Kong, I invite you to stop by the Renaissance Harbour View Hotel from May 19-May 22, where the statue will be on display in boardrooms 5 and 6, with other magnificent treasures offered by Luxeford in their upcoming Fine Jewels sale. And for all serious collectors, be sure to join in the bidding on May 22 at 2pm. You will find more information on Luxeford's website.

  • A History of St. Edward's Crown

    Rufus Sewell playing Charles II at his coronation. Photo Credit: h2g2.com. Rufus Sewell playing Charles II at his coronation. Photo Credit: h2g2.com.

    by Angela Magnotti Andrews

    Not to be confused with St. Edward’s Sapphire, St. Edward’s Crown is the foundation piece of the Crown Regalia. Experts believe it was fashioned after a crown of the same name used in 1043 for the coronation of Edward the Confessor, the last Anglo-Saxon king of England.

    The original crown may have been a gold diadem circlet adorned with small stones and two bells. This first crown was most likely destroyed by Oliver Cromwell in 1649; however, there is some speculation that some of its gold was somehow preserved and used in the current crown.

    In 1830, Thomas Robson wrote a book of heraldic definitions called The British Herald, Volume III, in which he documents the history of what he termed the Crown, Royal.

    According to Robson, the Saxons were the first documented monarchs to use crowns, which were simple circlets of gold, and the Crown Royal of his day is the same crown Britain's call today St. Edward's Crown.

    Made by Sir Robert Vyner for the coronation of Charles II in 1661, St. Edward's Crown was originally set with imitation pearls and paste (glass cut so as to imitate gemstones).

    These imitations are set into the crown whenever it is on display in the Tower of London. However, when the crown is used for the coronation of a new monarch, real gemstones are inset for the occasion.

    Though the Imperial State Crown served as the crown of choice for the coronations of George IV, William IV, Queen Victoria, and Edward VII, coronation with St. Edward’s Crown resumed with the ceremony of George V.

    Every sovereign since then has been crowned with this regal and heavy crown. During the 1800s, when the Imperial State Crown was used to crown the sovereign, St. Edward’s Crown was carried as a symbolic object during the procession to Westminster Abbey.

    Currently, St. Edward’s Crown holds court in the Tower of London with the other pieces of the British Crown Regalia. It will make its next grand appearance at the crowning of the Prince of Wales, at a date which no one wants to think about just yet. Long live the Queen!


    1. Official Website of The British Monarchy, The. "The Crown Jewels." Accessed May 28, 2012. http://www.royal.gov.uk/The%20Royal%20Collection%20and%20other%20collections/TheCrownJewels/Overview.aspx.
    2. Rush, Kim. "St. Edward's Crown." UK/Irish History @ Suite101. Posted July 17, 2009. Accessed May 28, 2012. http://suite101.com/article/st-edwards-crown-a132758.
    3. Jewelry Gems About. "British Crown Jewels." Accessed May 28, 2012. http://www.jewelrygemsabout.com/gem-history/british-crown-jewels.html.
    4. Robson, Thomas. The British Herald; or, Cabinet of armorial bearings of the Nobility. Sunderland: Turner & Marwood, 1830.
  • GIA Museum Presents Kara Ross: Premiere Designer Spotlighted in Their New Series "Aluminati"

    "Horizontal" by Kara Ross. On Exhibit in the GIA Museum's "Aluminati: Students to Stars" Exhibition. Photo credit: GIA on Pinterest. "Horizontal" by Kara Ross. Photo credit: GIA Museum on Pinterest.

    The raw crystals of this exquisite green dioptase dynamically extrude from its 18k yellow gold mounting in much the same manner it must have jutted out of its original brownish quartzite host. GIA graduate, Kara Ross, added a touch of glitter with a sprinkling of pavé diamonds, perhaps in honor of the carbonate crystals that often grow alongside dioptase in its natural form.

    Ms. Ross is the first of a group of GIA alumni who will be honored with their own exhibitions at the GIA Museum in Carslbad, California. The museum's latest series, "Aluminati: Students to Stars," will showcase the far-reaching successes of their many talented graduates.

    Kicking the series off with a bang, the bold and unique styles of Kara Ross will inspire and impress a public audience in the same way the cutting-edge designer has inspired and impressed a celebrity audience, including actresses Anne Hathaway, Kate Hudson, and Cameron Diaz, as well as U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama.

    A highlight of the exhibition, Mrs. Obama's custom "Shirt Cuff" bracelet, made from amethyst crystals, sterling silver, and the wood of a fallen White House magnolia tree, will be on display alongside the matching earrings Ms. Ross made for the fashion-forward First Lady. The bracelet and earrings demonstrate Ms. Ross's unique ability to transform natural materials into astonishing works of art.

    Ms. Ross got her start in jewelry design in her early teens. To commemorate a family safari in Africa, her parents encouraged their daughter to design and fashion a ring with the native tourmaline she chose. Inspired by downtown Philadelphia's Jeweler's Row, Ms. Ross created a ring of 18k gold and diamonds in which to mount the square-cut tourmaline.

    This early start at creating jewelry marked her indelibly, and her passionate pursuit of designing with gemstones earned her the highest credential given by the GIA, a GIA Graduate Gemologist diploma. As a GIA Gemologist, Ms. Ross is a highly trained expert in diamonds and colored gemstones.

    "Through the GIA, I developed my passion and knowledge for gemstones, and these inform and enhance all the designs I create today," Ms. Ross told Jeff Miller of Rapaport Auctions. Her nearly-organic rendering of the green dioptase in the stunning ring pictured above demonstrates her statement. Visitors can see the ring, named "Horizontal" by the designer, as well as Mrs. Obama's "Shirt Cuff" bracelet, and many more designs by the celebrated designer in the GIA Museum atrium.

    According to the GIA Museum's website, Ms. Ross's work will be on display through October 2013. For a free guided tour, visitors must call ahead to make an appointment. To schedule a tour, call 800-421-7250, ext. 4116.

  • Vintage Celebrity Jewelery: The Jewelry of J. Edgar Hoover

    FBI Badge, circa 1935. Photo Credit: Greater Cincinnati Police Museum. FBI Badge, circa 1935. Photo Credit: Greater Cincinnati Police Museum.

    The year is 1924, and the jewel in question is a gift from Annie to her son, J. Edgar Hoover. It is a "small star sapphire ring." {1} According to Clint Eastwood's film, J. Edgar, the ring was made from platinum and set with six diamonds and a star sapphire. Upon J. Edgar's death, on this day in 1972, Mr. Hoover bequeathed the ring and two cuff links to John Edgar Nichols, son of Mr. Hoover's faithful publicist, Louis Nichols.

    Mr. Hoover also willed his platinum watch with a white gold wristband to his other namesake, John Edgar Ruch, son of the FBI Director's first ghostwriter, George Ruch. {2} In pictures of Mr. Hoover, his customary uniform of suit and tie is often minimally ornamented with a few choice of personal ornaments, most distinctly a ring which he wears on his left ring finger, a watch and/or bracelet he wears most frequently on his left wrist, and on at least one occasion a small lapel pin. Unseen in the photographs would be the conventional cuff links, likely FBI issue, though he may have had a few personalized pairs.

    His biographers credit it him with affection and generosity, reporting that he often bought jewelry for his mother. However, there is scant record of which jewelers he favored, though several reports indicate that he was friends with Paul Flato, renowned "Jeweler to the Stars".

    It is likely that the lapel pin was associated with one of the many fraternal organizations he belonged to, either the Shriners, the Masons, or even the FBI. According to public records, the declared value of his personal property at the time of his death, including jewelry, books, antiques, and other household effects, was at minimum $70,000, with some indications that this was a very low estimate.

    While the trail on his personal jewelry seems to dry up at this point, there is one piece of ornamentation that J. Edgar Hoover had with him at all times--his FBI badge. His first would have been issued in 1917. The pattern for this initial badge was a miniature ornate shield, branded "US" in the center, which was encircled by a banner reading "Bureau of Investigation/Justice Department".

    In May 1927, three years after Mr. Hoover was promoted to Director of the Bureau, a new badge style was issued. This one featured a flat miniature shield crested by an eagle. In the center of the shield, between the branded letters "U" and "S", Lady Justice (the blindfolded Greek goddess Dike) holds the scales of justice and her double-edged sword, symbolizing the power of reason and justice. In banner style, the words "Bureau of Investigation" and "Department of Justice" border the edges.

    After the 1927 issuance, two different variations of this badge style were adopted. In 1934, they increased the size of the badge and cast it with a slight curvature. And, in 1935, the present style was adopted which demonstrates a more androgynous Lady/Lord Justice. The curvature of the badge is more pronounced, and the banner now reads "Federal Bureau of Investigation", reflecting the final name change for the agency.

    The first 1000 of these badges were manufactured in Attleboro, Massachusetts by the Robbins Company. Numbered 1 to 1000, these first official FBI badges are still in circulation. When retiring agents turn them in they are typically reissued to new agents. However, one of these original FBI badges will not find its way in the hands of a rookie agent.

    Badge No. 1, issued in 1935 to first-in-command, Director J. Edgar Hoover, will soon take its place among over 2,000 items from the late Director's estate at the National Law Enforcement Museum in Washington, DC. Scheduled to open in 2015, the museum promises to "tell the story of Director Hoover and the FBI like no one has been able to tell it before." {cited}

    1. Gentry, Curt. J. Edgar Hoover. New York: W.W. Norton & Company Ltd., 1991.
    2. Ibid.

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