Sourcing

A Tapestry Set with 26K Gemstones Is Making Its US Debut

SourcingJan 27, 2022

A Tapestry Set with 26K Gemstones Is Making Its US Debut

Its display at the University of Tucson’s gem and mineral museum has been a long time coming.

“The Royal Tapestry,” featuring more than 26,000 calibrated gemstones set in hand-fabricated prongs, will be on display at the Alfie Norville Gem and Mineral Museum through at least March 2024.
Tucson, Ariz.—Somewhere in the Rainbow’s Shelly Sergent said she wouldn’t take no for an answer when it came to finding a way to get a tapestry set with more than 26,000 gemstones on display in Tucson. 

Even if the logistics seemed to present challenge after challenge. 

One look at the piece or the specifics behind it, though, and it’s not hard to see why she and the museum’s team fought so hard for it to get there and then worked so hard to get it ready. 

Created by Parisian jeweler Cristofol for a royal family in the 1980s, the “The Royal Tapestry,” as it has recently been dubbed, features 26,649 total gemstones—yellow, pink, and blue sapphires, rubies, emeralds, and diamonds. 

Each gemstone is calibrated to match in size and weigh about 0.5 carats each. The tapestry also features more than 100,000 hand-fabricated 18-karat gold prongs, set so smoothly “you can run silk over it, and it won’t snag,” Sergent told National Jeweler. 

At 42 inches by 24 inches and weighing just over 40 pounds, it took five master artisans working for 18 months to complete it. Five years were spent sourcing and cutting the gems. 

And so too did it take plenty of time to get it to its current, and temporary, home in Tucson—the University of Arizona’s Alfie Norville Gem & Mineral Museum. 

After first serving as an object of art in a palace, the tapestry was sold to a private collector, who has had it in their possession since. 

It was this owner who got in touch with Sergent in 2010, initially just to show her the piece. 

Then, a few years ago, the owner again came to Sergent and Eric Fritz, the manager of the Alfie Norville Gem and Mineral Museum, with interest in temporarily displaying the tapestry in the new museum. 

They eventually agreed to a one-year display before COVID-19 came and wrecked the plans, as it did for many others. 

Amid myriad issues stemming from trying to safely get the tapestry from Geneva to Arizona during a pandemic, the collaboration took a backseat, though Sergent said they kept working to make it happen. 

The delay from the pandemic ended up being fortuitous, she noted, because then a donor came forward who wanted to help, donating thousands of dollars for a showcase, shipping, and logistics. 

Another silver lining was that the air travel involved became a little easier.

Originally, the plan included multiple flights and stops, resulting in a days-long trip for the tapestry.

But then Swiss Air started offering direct flights from Zurich to L.A., which meant the piece needed to take one flight from Switzerland to the West Coast before being delivered in an armored vehicle to Tucson.

So the plan came together, involving a lot of paperwork, multiple countries, and two continents—not only through Sergent, Fritz and the museum staff, the donor, and the tapestry’s owner, who is based out of country, but also the state of Arizona for insurance underwriting, the London office of logistics company Malca Amit, and customs in L.A.

After receiving it, the museum staff worked hard to prepare it for display, giving it an updated condition report and creating a special new case just for the tapestry, flooding it with light for maximum brilliance. 

Needless to say, after all that, the owner realized one year on display wasn’t enough.

The tapestry will now be at the Tucson museum, where it’s officially making its U.S. debut, until at least March 2024, with the possibility of extending beyond that.

For more information about its temporary home, the Alfie Norville Gem and Mineral Museum, visit its website

 Related stories will be right here … 
Brecken Branstratoris the senior editor, gemstones at National Jeweler, covering sourcing, pricing and other developments in the colored stone sector.

The Latest

FinancialsJan 27, 2023
Tiffany & Co. Shines for LVMH in 2022

Acquired in 2021, the brand’s high jewelry sales have doubled and its new “Lock” collection was an instant hit.

MajorsJan 27, 2023
Diamond Council of America Appoints Treasurer, Board Member

Executives from Fred Meyer Jewelers and Riddles Jewelers have filled the roles.

CollectionsJan 27, 2023
Piece of the Week: Heavenly Vices’ Lock Necklace

The Victorian-inspired design is a functional lock and key.

Brought to you by
Bringing Over 130 Years of Diamond Expertise to Modern Grading

De Beers Institute of Diamonds provides the very best in diamond verification, education and diamond services.

Supplier BulletinJan 26, 2023
JA New York Spring Brings the Industry Together

For over 100 years, JA New York has played an integral role in facilitating the evolution of our industry, while also honoring past traditions.

Weekly QuizJan 26, 2023
This Week’s Quiz
Test your jewelry news knowledge with this short test.
Take the Quiz
TrendsJan 26, 2023
At Vicenzaoro, Paola De Luca Gazes Into Jewelry’s Future

The trend forecaster and her guests explored unconventional jewelry designs, NFTs, AI art, and more during her Trendvision presentation.

CollectionsJan 26, 2023
NDC and Lorraine Schwartz Announce New ‘EDDI’ Class

The Emerging Designers Diamond Initiative provides diamond credit and mentorship to young brands helmed by BIPOC designers.

Brought to you by
De Beers Institute of Diamonds Expands to Offer Education

De Beers is sharing over 130 years of experience and expertise through the De Beers Institute of Diamonds with a selection of courses.

IndependentsJan 26, 2023
Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry Set to Open 10th Store

It will be located in San Antonio’s Alamo Quarry Market and will be Lee Michaels’ third location in the city.

Policies & IssuesJan 26, 2023
Diamonds Do Good Names 10 to Board of Directors

Stephanie Gottlieb, Jewelers Mutual’s Mike Alexander, and Craig Rottenberg of Long’s Jewelers are among the new board members.

WatchesJan 25, 2023
These Were 2022’s Top-Selling Watch Brands, Chrono24 Says

Rolex remained No. 1 while a brand known for its pilot watches slipped into the No. 5 spot.

MajorsJan 25, 2023
John Hardy Names New CEO

Luxury retail executive Frédéric Levy has taken on the role.

Events & AwardsJan 25, 2023
Couture DAC Accepting Applications for Mentorship Program

Jewelry designers have until early February to apply to take part in Couture's Diversity Action Council program.

CollectionsJan 25, 2023
Stephanie Gottlieb Announces First President, CCO Hire

Morgan P. Richardson joins from La Perla.

Policies & IssuesJan 25, 2023
PGI’s New Portal Wants to Teach You About Platinum

The new portal will share information on responsible platinum sourcing and how it’s used beyond jewelry.

ColumnistsJan 24, 2023
On Data: Here’s How Independent Jewelers Did in 2022

Sherry Smith breaks down retailers’ performance last year, including how natural diamonds fared vs. lab-grown.

GradingJan 24, 2023
GIA and AGS Launch Diamond Light Performance Supplement Report

The AGS Ideal Report by GIA is a digital-only addition to GIA diamond reports.

MajorsJan 24, 2023
WJA Announces New International Board Members

The seven newcomers include executives from David Yurman, De Beers, and GIA.

EditorsJan 23, 2023
Designers to Watch in 2023: Aurelia Demark

The designer finds the modernity in classic motifs and family heirloom jewels.

Policies & IssuesJan 23, 2023
Melanie Grant Named Executive Director of RJC

She has more than 20 years’ experience in watches and jewelry, and says sustainability is the “greatest single issue” facing the industry.

Policies & IssuesJan 23, 2023
AGTA Forms Committee to Standardize Industry ‘Sustainability’ Terms

Its focus are words like “sustainability,” “ethics,” and “responsible sourcing.”

IndependentsJan 23, 2023
10 Jewelry News Stories You Might Have Missed

Another “Designer to Watch” and Kim Kardashian’s auction purchase were among our most-read stories.

MajorsJan 20, 2023
Quality Gold Acquires Herco

Herco President Reuven Itelman is retiring and selling the company, which will relocate to Ohio from California.

Lab-GrownJan 20, 2023
Siobhán Duffy Promoted to Chief Executive of Element Six

She was previously the executive director of sales and marketing for the De Beers Group-owned company.

TrendsJan 20, 2023
Piece of the Week: Loquet London’s Lunar New Year Charm

It’s from a new collection of charms designed to go in the brand’s signature lockets.

IndependentsJan 20, 2023
Edge Retail Academy Announces Annual Award Winner

Lonnie Iannazzo of Vincent Anthony Jewelers is the 2022 William (Wag) Wagner Business Excellence Award recipient.

Lab-GrownJan 19, 2023
GIA Rolls Out Less Expensive Report for Lab-Grown Diamonds

The revised Laboratory-Grown Diamond Report-Dossier still includes the four Cs but doesn’t list growth method or post-growth treatments.

×

This site uses cookies to give you the best online experience. By continuing to use & browse this site, we assume you agree to our Privacy Policy