March 12, 2012

History behind Miss Universe Crown

 The crown is the symbol of elegance and dignity to the person who wears it. From members of the royal families around the world to senior proms to Saturday nights and music videos, crowns have become the season's hottest fashion accessory. The crowns and beauty pageants have been together for a very long long time. In the past 56 years of the Miss Universe Pageant, can you guess how many times did they change the crown?
The very first Miss Universe crown (modeled by the very first Miss Universe Finland's Armi Kuusela) was the priceless Romanoff crown that once belonged to the Russian czar and contained 1,529 flawless diamonds with a combined weight of 300 karats. At the time it was insured for half-a-million dollars. In 1953 at the 2nd annual pageant in Long Beach, California, the Miss Universe crown had been changed for the very first time. First and only worn by Miss Universe 1953 Christiane Martel of France, the crown was made from metalic bronze. The design was very simple, but unique in its own way - perfect for the most beautiful woman in the universe.  
 The first official Miss USA and Miss Universe crown which was first worn by winners in 1954 were reportedly valued at $500,000. They consisted of approximately 1,000 Oriental cultured and black pearls set in solid gold and platinum frame and weight 1.25 pounds. The winner only wore the crowns three times during their reign -- their coronation, their successor's coronation and one other unspecified time. When the crown was worn, the titleholder was shadowed by a bodyguard. Needless to say, the titleholders were not allowed to keep their crowns. Here we see Miriam Stevenson, Miss Universe 1954 from the USA with the crown.
In 1961 during the 10th Anniversary of the Miss Universe Pageant, the organization decided to change the crown. First worn by Miss Universe 1961 Marlene Schmidt of Germany (in the picture), this is the first rhinestone crown of the Miss Universe Pageant. Only two titleholders had a chance to wear this exquisite crown, Marlene Schmidt of Germany, Miss Universe 1961 and Norma Nolan, Miss Universe 1962 of Argentina.
 The 5th design of the Miss Universe crown came in 1963. The rhinestone crown (modeled by Miss Universe 1964 Corinna Tsopei of Greece) was designed with the symbol of the Miss Universe Organization on top (a woman stands holding a scepter) which has become a part of the Miss Universe legend. The rest of the crown resembled the previous one. The crown was used until 1969 and had never been given to the winner. In 1970 the organization designed a new crown with a slightly different design (with still, logo of Miss Universe Organization in the center but the crown had extended wings) that was very similar to the previous one. 
The sixth design, this classic Miss Universe crown (modeled by Miss Universe 1975 Finland's Anne Marie Pohtamo) was designed and made by one of America's most renowned jewelry maker "Sarah Coventry". The design has become the symbol of mark and beauty of Miss Universe for almost 30 years. The crown is adjustable and was actually given to the winner and 28 Miss Universe titleholders from 1974-2001 have worn them. Miss Universe 1974 Amparo Munoz of Spain was the first titleholder to wear this crown. Later in the late 1980's, the crowns were made by International Gem and Jewelry Show, Inc. This exquisite and exotic design, plus the beauty of the rhinestones have become a much-beloved item among pageant fanatic around the world. Miss Universe 2001 Denise Quinones of Puerto Rico was the last winner who received this crown as part of her prize package.
 The 7th Miss Universe crown was designed and made by Mikimoto. The crown, valued at $250,000 was commissioned by the Miss Universe Organization in 2002 as a tribute to its then 50-year-anniversary celebration. The intricate design depicts the ancient symbol of the phoenix rising, which signifies status, power and the vision of great beauty. With over dazzling diamonds weighing nearly 18 carats, and 120 handpicked white South Sea and Akoya cultured pearls, the crown will be used for 10 years from 2002-2011. In addition to the official Mikimoto crown, which will be kept by the Miss Universe Organization for the annual crowning of the new Miss Universe, each newly-crowned titleholder will be awarded a tiara valued at $20,000 consisting of 15 diamonds and 103 cultured pearls. Most people recalled that the crown was first worn by Oxana Fedorova, Miss Universe 2002 of Russia (who later dethroned), but it was Denise Quinones, Miss Universe 2001 of Puerto Rico who became the very first Miss Universe to wear this Mikimoto crown. In the photo we see Toyohiko Mikimoto, President of Mikimoto, fits the new Mikimoto-designed Miss Universe crown on Denise at a press conference during the launch of the crown at the Inter-Continental Hotel and Resort in San Juan, Puerto Rico on May 25, 2002.
The Miss Universe Organization announced June 20, 2008 that CAO Fine Jewelry (a line of the renowned Phu Nhuan Jewelry (PNJ) company in Vietnam) has created the coveted 2008 Miss Universe crown. The winner of the 2008 Miss Universe Pageant, which will broadcast live on NBC July 13th from the Crown Convention Center in Nha Trang, Vietnam, will be crowned with the masterpiece which was designed by Rosalina Tran Lydster of Jewelry by Rosalina and Ms. Dang Thi Kim Lien of CAO Fine Jewelry. The crown, valued at $120 thousand dollars, is made of 18K white and yellow gold. It is comprised of over 1,000 precious stones; including 555 white diamonds (30 carats), 375 cognac diamonds (14 carats), 10 smoky quartz crystals (20 carats) and 19 morganite gemstones (60 carats). The colors of the jewels chosen for the crown have great significance. The yellow luster of the gold represents the prosperous thriving economy in Vietnam. White, light pink and cognac are the main hues in the crown which represent inspiration and feeling. Each piece of the crown was designed to represent an important attribute of the Miss Universe Pageant. The curves of inlaid precious stones represent the strong development and potential of each country. The image of the crane (Lac Bird) symbolizes Vietnamese spirit and culture. The image of the heart represents unified breath, rhythm and vision, which are powerful internal forces that stress faith, hope and unity.  
Since 2009, Diamond Nexus Labs has been crafting the Miss Universe crown and tiara. The crown is set with 1,371 gemstones, weighing a total of 416.09 carats (83.22 g). It contains 544.31 grams of 14k and 18k white gold as well as platinum. The crown features synthetic rubies to represent Miss Universe's HIV/AIDS education and awareness platform. Diamond Nexus Labs is the first ever eco-friendly Official Jeweler of Miss Universe and was selected as part of NBC Universal's "Green is Universal" initiative.

The Peace Crown was chosen via online voting over two other choices, i.e., the Hope Crown and the Unity Crown, and was first worn by Stefania Fernandez of Venezuela.

Quite a journey...

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