Professional Jeweler Archive: Building a Great Museum at GIA

February 2005

From the Vault

Building a Great Museum at GIA

The growing gem and jewelry collection gets its first significant financial contribution

Estate jewelry collector Stephen H. Silver, G.G., and his wife, Eileen, have contributed $100,000 to the Gemological Institute of America’s museum and education programs.

The majority of the gift – $75,000 – is the first significant financial contribution to the GIA Museum Endowment Fund. Once the fund reaches its goal, the GIA Board of Governors will designate a portion of the interest earned to acquire rare jewelry and mineral specimens for display.

“At S.H. Silver Co., it is our intent to commit to two sides of GIA: as an educational institution and as an organization to promote artistic awareness through the museum,” says Stephen Silver. “You can’t have an appreciation of art without educational awareness.”

Museum Director Elise Misiorowski thanked the Silvers. “We are so grateful to Stephen and Eileen for their generosity and foresight in seeing the potential in the GIA Museum,” she says.

The Silvers’ donation comes on the heels of the company’s recent loan of the Cullinan Blue Diamond necklace to GIA for display. The necklace – which contains four principal rare blue diamonds weighing 2.60, 0.75, 0.73 and 0.42 carats – was given by Thomas Cullinan, then chairman of the Premier diamond mine in South Africa, to his wife in 1905 to commemorate the gift of the 3,106-ct. Cullinan diamond to England’s King Edward VII and his subsequent knighthood.

The necklace holds special significance for Silver as an estate jewelry collector because he acquired it directly from Cullinan’s great-granddaughter. “The design, the execution of the craftsmanship – a piece of this importance – is rarely exposed to the public,” says Silver. “There’s history and a story behind it that makes it more special.”

The Silvers also donated a rare platinum, diamond and Russian violet-pink topaz Edwardian corsage ornament from the early 1900s to GIA in 1997. At that time, the brooch was valued at $105,000 – the most valuable donation of set jewelry GIA had received.

“I donated the brooch and this recent financial gift to challenge other industry leaders to band together to support GIA’s ongoing efforts to develop a collection that rivals many of the great natural history or fine art museums,” he says.

GIA President William Boyajian with donors Eileen and Stephen Silver.
The Cullinan Blue Diamond necklace, on loan to the GIA Museum.

Copyright © 2005 by Bond Communications