Gem News International Gems & Gemology, Winter 2013, Vol. 49, No. 4

“Gran Dama” Brooch Featuring Large Melo Pearl

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Designed by Gianmaria Buccellati, the “Gran Dama” brooch celebrates pregnancy through its centerpiece 98.67 ct Melo pearl. Photo by Orasa Weldon.
After a surge in popularity during the 19th century, Melo pearls reemerged on the gem market in the 1990s. These exceedingly rare pearls are produced by the Indian volute, a sea snail indigenous to Southeast Asia. The pearls themselves are non-nacreous and found in shades of orange, yellow, gray, and brown. Upon acquiring a 98.67 ct Melo pearl, thought to be one of the largest in the world, acclaimed jewelry designer Gianmaria Buccellati created the “Gran Dama” brooch to showcase this exceptional gem.

Created to honor the power of pregnancy, the brooch epitomizes, in Buccellati’s own words, “the highest and purest, I dare say divine, human state.” While many years were invested in the concept design and inspiration, the brooch itself required three years to complete, from original design to finished piece. The Melo pearl, representing the womb of the expectant mother, is accentuated by its setting in yellow, pink, and white gold, surrounded by 410 round brilliant diamonds and 139 fancy-color diamonds. The pear-shaped, 18.21 ct South Sea cultured pearl used for the brooch’s head provides a striking visual contrast with the orange, spherical pearl at the centerpiece of this work of art.

Jennifer-Lynn Archuleta is associate editor of Gems & Gemology.