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Hope springs eternal: Winston shares dollars as well as rare diamond

By Jacqueline Trescott

The Hope Diamond made a rare trip out of town Tuesday night to appear at a special event where the Harry Winston Co. announced another special gift to the National Museum of Natural History.

The Hope Diamond. (Smithsonian)

The display of the Hope in New York was a homecoming for the renowned jewel, which was owned by Harry Winston, who gave the rare blue diamond to the Smithsonian Institution in 1958.

On Tuesday evening, the famous diamond joined a $1-billion display of gems and stones that were assembled to re-create "The Court of Jewels" exhibition that Winston organized decades ago.
During the event, which was co-hosted by actress Halle Berry, the firm's president and CEO Frederic de Narp announced the creation of a new Harry Winston Hope Foundation, which will give the Natural History museum $1-million for education programs. The donation to the Smithsonian is the first gift from the fund, which is committing a minimum of 5-percent of its pre-tax profits to education issues, de Narp said.
"It will be a minimum of $1-million," said Jeffrey Post, the curator of the museum's gems and minerals collection. "The funds will go to some combination of activities and research."
The long connections between the Winston company and the Smithsonian cannot be overemphasized, Post said. After the gift of the Hope Diamond, the collection grew into an international resource. "Many of the pieces in the Gem Collection were donated by Winston or customers of his," Post said. Winston mailed the 45.52 carat blue diamond to the museum in a brown paper package. The priceless artifact quickly became the Smithsonian's most visited object.
The diamond will be displayed in its new temporary setting, beginning Thursday at the museum. The design "Embracing Hope" was chosen by a public vote and created by the Winston team.
Also, the Smithsonian Channel on Sunday will air "Mystery of the Hope Diamond," a one-hour documentary that will include hard scientific facts and legends about the jewel.

By Jacqueline Trescott  | November 16, 2010; 9:20 PM ET
Categories:  Jacqueline Trescott, Museums, Smithsonian  | Tags:  Harry Winston, National Museum of Natural History, donation to Smithsonian  
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