The Hope Diamond is sparkling more than ever before.
The deep-blue-colored jewel shed its old setting Wednesday and was put on display -- naked -- for the first time ever at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
The Hope Diamond is one the most famous gemstones in all the world, and the Smithsonian is celebrating its 50th year at the museum by showing it off in its raw form. It will remain on exhibit in the museum’s Winston Gallery while a new temporary setting is created for display in April 2010.
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The new setting also was revealed at the museum on Wednesday. Check out the look of the new setting here.
Until now, the 45.52-carat diamond had been held in a platinum Cartier setting surrounded by 16 white pear-shaped and cushion-cut diamonds suspended from a diamond chain. Bling indeed.
The Hope Diamond was formed more than one billion years ago. It surfaced after a volcanic eruption and was discovered in the 17th century. It's believed that King George IV of England bought the re-cut in 1820; and after his death Henry Philip Hope purchased it, and the diamond still bears Hope's name today.