1950s - 1960s
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In 1950, James & Harry Kazanjian acquire a large unpolished black star sapphire and fashioned it into the likeness of Abraham Lincoln.
This is the first of the four Presidential busts to be carved, which would include Washington, Jefferson, and Eisenhower.
In 1957, The Kazanjian Foundation is formed to support scientific, artistic, cultural, and other worthy causes. Taking custody and selling the largest gems out of the vaults, the Foundation provides scholarships for foreign students studying in the United States.
Eventually, the Foundation would evolve to acquire jewels owned by notable Hollywood celebrities, including Clark Gable, Bob Hope, and Madonna -- ultimately forming the “Jewels for Charity” program. The collection tours the world with sales benefiting Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and scholarships at the GIA (Gemological Institute of America).
Kazanjian acquires the world’s largest rough ruby (as per the Guinness Book of World Records, 1960).
The final carving, finished into an American Bald Eagle perched atop the Liberty Bell, weighs 8,500 carats and is complimented by 50 diamonds representing the Fifty States. Dubbed “The Liberty Bell Ruby,” the stone tours the nation.
Kazanjian purchases the entire inventory of a British mining syndicate’s rough sapphires at the Yogo Mines in Great Falls, Montana.
Stan Kazanjian, son of James, takes the Montana stones and fashions them into an exquisite 178 carat sapphire necklace. This necklace is considered to be the most important American gemstone piece ever created.