- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hope for a curse

Democracy and diamonds. Ah, what a glamorous couple you make.

The Smithsonian Institution and its companion television channel are conducting an online voting campaign to allow history and jewelry buffs to vote on a new setting for the infamous Hope Diamond.

The storied gem was given “as a gift to the American people” 50 years ago by none other than “Mr. Baubles” himself, Harry Winston. In honor of that glittering anniversary, the House of Harry Winston has put together three settings for the 45.52-carat stunner, “each symbolizing Hope in America,” according to a Smithsonian news release.

The setting receiving the most votes at smithsonianchannel.com through Sept. 7 will be revealed this fall and will be displayed in all its glory at the National Museum of Natural History. It also will be featured in a TV special, “Mystery of the Hope Diamond,” premiering in the spring.

The diamond has been the stuff of legend for decades. It has been linked to prominent figures through the centuries, from Marie Antoinette to Louis XIV of France, and the bauble is said to have magical powers and bring misfortune to those who own it.

Renowned jeweler Pierre Cartier sold the diamond to its last private owner, Washington heiress and party girl Evalyn Walsh McLean, in 1911 by convincing her of its storied past.

Mrs. McLean, who was the capital city’s social queen bee in her day, was known to make the diamond the guest of honor at her lavish parties. Her buddies, President Warren G. Harding and first lady Florence Harding, apparently were fond of trying on and posing with the gem. We also hear Mrs. McLean liked to stroll around Northwest with her dog sporting the diamond on its collar.

Apparently, this frivolous treatment did not sit well with the diamond, and some believe Mrs. McLean was another casualty of its mysticism. Her husband left her and eventually was committed to an insane asylum. Her young son died in a car crash, and her daughter took her own life.

Mr. Winston purchased her jewelry collection, including the diamond, after her death in 1947.

Who’s she wearing?

Riddle us this: Who designed the jewels worn by White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers on her third (yes, third) magazine cover this year? The answer is apparently a closely guarded secret, according to our friends at fashion bible Women’s Wear Daily. They report that Niche Media, the parent publishing company of local society and fashion mag Capitol File, made a concerted effort to leave out the fashion credits in the cover story on Ms. Rogers in Michigan Avenue, Niche Media’s Chicago-based glossy.

“The magazine did not focus on the credits as it was a personality-driven story about Desiree and her efforts and her connection to Chicago,” WWD quotes a Niche rep as explaining.

As you may recall, G2 was the first to report on Ms. Rogers’ very pricey ensemble for her cover story for Capitol File this spring. In the midst of a recession, Ms. Rogers sported a $3,370 Louis Vuitton coat and $7,900 Jorge Adeler earrings.

It also has been reported by WWD that White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has vetoed photo shoots of Ms. Rogers in expensive ball gowns. Is this yet another way of keeping a lid on the jewelry box?

Seein’ green

“Green Living” author and television personality Sara Snow was in town Tuesday evening for a reception at Hotel Monaco hosted by Planet Green, the Discovery Channel’s network dedicated to environmentally friendly programming.

The 30-something dynamo is known for her series “Get Fresh With Sara Snow” on Discovery, where she brings composting, recycling and organic foods into living rooms across the country, putting a young, mainstream face on the sometimes political green movement.

We learned from chatting with her that unlike actor Ed Begley Jr., Planet Green’s other host, who came to the green movement later in life, Mrs. Snow was born into it, quite literally. Her mother, Pattie Redmond, wife of Eden Organic Natural Foods co-founder Tim Redmond, gave birth to her via natural childbirth at home. Talk about a green birthright!

Now living in Indianapolis, Mrs. Snow says her mission is to bring her parents’ way of life to her generation.

We hear Mrs. Snow and Planet Green are in talks about a new series. Stay tuned.

To contact Stephanie Green or Elizabeth Glover, send e-mail to undercover@ washingtontimes.com.

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