The Dom Pedro
The world’s largest cut aquamarine, the Dom Pedro was faceted as an elongated obelisk with straight channels crossing each other. The gem measures approximately 14 inches (36 cm) long by 4 inches (10 cm) wide (at the thicker base) and weighs 10,363 cts. Found in Pedra Azul, Minas Gerais, Brazil in the 1980s, the original rough crystal measured almost 3’ long (91 cm) and weighed almost a hundred pounds (45 kg, or 225,000 cts). It was named Dom Pedro after the first two emperors of Brazil, Pedro I and Pedro II.
This one-of-a-kind specimen possessed an ideal combination of attractive color and exceptional clarity. The famous gem cutter, Bernd Munsteiner, based in Idar-Oberstein, Germany, cut this crystal in a style that perfectly harmonized carving and polishing techniques.
The Dom Pedro was later donated to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History by Jane M. Mitchell and Jeffery S. Bland, where it’s on display in the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology.
The Smithsonian’s Hall of Gems gallery also holds other large, famous aquamarines sourced from Brazil, including a rectangular-cut, 1,000-ct gem known as “Most Precious.” It was donated to the museum in 1963 by Evyan Perfumes Inc. and named after their well-known perfume.
The Roosevelt Aquamarine
In 1936, Brazilian President Getúlio Vargas gave a beautiful, 1,298-ct aquamarine gemstone to US First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt when she and President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Brazil. (Thus, the gem became known as the Roosevelt aquamarine). Before the discovery of the Dom Pedro, the Roosevelt held the title of the largest cut specimen of aquamarine. Now, it ranks as the second largest.
The rough crystal that produced this emerald-cut, dark blue gemstone weighed around 2.86 pounds (1.3 kg, or around 6,500 cts). It actually yielded another impressive faceted piece, an 865-ct gem, sold to Jagatjit Singh, the Maharaja of Kaputhala.
In 1947, the Roosevelt aquamarine was donated to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library in Hyde Park, New York.
Queen Elizabeth’s Aquamarine Tiara
British Queen Elizabeth’s aquamarine tiara features several Brazilian aquamarines. In 1957, she commissioned the tiara from Garrard to match her aquamarine necklace and earrings. She had the platinum piece set with aquamarines and diamonds she received from Brazilian President Getúlio Vargas as a coronation gift in 1953. The Queen has worn her aquamarine parure, a matching jewelry suite, on many occasions.
In 1971, thanks to generous gifts of aquamarines by the Governor of Sao Paulo, Brazil, the tiara received new stones for an upgrade. A larger aquamarine replaced the tiara’s center stone.
The Hirsch Aquamarine
Once owned by the French Emperor Louis XV, the emerald-cut Hirsch aquamarine weighs 109.92 cts. Said to soothe the Emperor, the gem has natural, aquatic blue colors. (In folkloric beliefs from around the world, aquamarines have the power to calm emotions). Delicate bands, accented with 118 micro pavé-set diamonds, embrace this gem in its 18k white gold pendant mounting.
Meghan Markle’s Aquamarine Ring
A well-known aquamarine has recently returned to the spotlight on the Duchess of Sussex’s hand. Meghan Markle received this striking jewelry piece from Prince Harry during their wedding. The yellow gold cocktail ring belonged to Prince Harry’s late mother, Princess Diana. It features a large, emerald-cut, pale blue aquamarine gem, estimated at over 30 carats, surrounded by smaller diamonds.
Originally designed to be a part of a set of Princess Diana’s jewelry, the ring matched one of her bracelets, which featured an aquamarine and several pearl strands. She occasionally wore the ring publicly. Most famously, she wore it at a Christie’s auction of her dresses in June 1997, just two months before her death.
More Famous Aquamarines
Other large and famous aquamarines are on display in museums around the world. These include the following: