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September-October 2014

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Beyond Hope: Some Other Notable Diamonds at the Smithsonian Institution—Part 3

After the American Civil War, Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman was an international celebrity and traveled quite extensively. On a trip to Egypt in 1873 he met with Khedive (Viceroy) Isma'il Pasha, ruler of Egypt, and offered some advice on the restructuring of his military. In December 1874, as a thank you for his service, the khedive sent to Sherman's eldest daughter (Maria “Minnie” Sherman), on the occasion of her wedding to Lt. Thomas Fitch, on 1 October 1874, what the khedive referred to in a congratulations letter as a souvenir. This “souvenir” turned out to be a magnificent diamond necklace with matching earrings.

Russell C. Feather II is the collection manager of the National Gem Collection in the Department of Mineral Sciences at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

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