The Logan Sapphire
The Logan Sapphire mesmerizes with its numerous facets radiating in spiral fashion toward the deep central culet. Surrounding the 423-carat Sri Lankan blue sapphire, set in silver and gold, are twenty round brilliant-cut diamonds. Their total carat weight is 16 carats.
Today, this gorgeous jewel resides in the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals. This arresting gallery is “tucked,” as the GIA writes, “into the eastern wing” of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. It has lived there since 1960, a part of our nation’s treasure trove, The National Gem Collection.
In 1997, the GIA examined the stone and declared it to be an untreated, natural blue sapphire. The Smithsonian describes its color as “medium soft violetish blue,” and reports that the stone has “exceptional clarity” given its size and cut.
Rebecca “Polly” Guggenheim
Before that time, one Rebecca “Polly” Guggenheim wore the gorgeous brooch on her shoulder while hosting lavish parties in Firenze House, a Tudor-style mansion on Broad Ranch Rd. in D.C. The Washington Post reported in 1994, that between the 1940s and 1970s, she entertained countless diplomats and VIPs in both the arts and the business communities of Washington.
Mrs. Guggenheim was married to Col. M. Robert Guggenheim. According to Jeffrey E. Post, curator of the Smithsonian’s Mineral Collection, Mr. Guggenheim was heir to a fortune built on the mining and smelting industry. Mr. Post also mentions that the man was a “notorious philanderer.”
In 1959, Mr. Guggenheim died. In 1960, Polly Guggenheim donated the gorgeous table-cut sapphire brooch to the museum. Mr. Post related that when her friend asked how she could part with such a beautiful piece, Polly responded, “Every time I looked at it, all I could think of was my no good, cheating husband”.
Mrs. John A. Logan
In 1962, Polly married John A. Logan, a management consultant in Washington, D.C. According to a friend of the family, Mr. Donald Dewey, the couple moved into a smaller home on S Street. Her parties continued, though they took a decided turn away from art and world politics, toward American Republican politics.
According to The Boston Globe, Mrs. Logan dedicated decades of her life to providing behind-the-scenes support to Republican candidates. Descriptions of Polly from those who knew here range from “…a tornado, a very dynamic force across the landscape…”. Hailed as “a master of the mechanics of politics in the…pre-Internet age…”, she was “…a dynamo in all that she did, whether it was civic or political or friendship…”.
Politics and Art
Her niece, Beverly Pollard Page, wrote that her Aunt Polly “was the kindest person to any and every one and had a lovely southern way about her. She loved entertaining and going to Washington parties in her beautiful gowns and was a Washington beauty with her red hair”.
Her tireless efforts for the Republican Party were only a part of her story. Prior to her involvement with the party, Polly spent her time advocating for the arts. An artist herself, Polly founded the Art Barn in Rock Creek Park, where “the works of painters, sculptors, photographers, and artisans are exhibited”.
Not only did she support artists, but Mrs. Logan was also a painter. Her portraits have graced the walls of the Smithsonian and other Boston museums, and some belong to private collections.
Although she was a Guggenheim when she acquired and donated the sapphire to the Smithsonian, it is no wonder that the powers that be decided to name the jewel The Logan Sapphire. Clearly, Mrs. John A. Logan was just getting started in her Guggenheim days. It is far more fitting that The Logan Sapphire be associated with the gregarious, infectious, and charming Polly Logan