This large crimson stone is called a rubellite. It is a rare variety of dark pink tourmaline, which for a long time was considered to be a ruby (the gem was reassessed by experts only in Soviet times). In 1777, the stone was presented as a gift to Catherine the Great (1729-1796) by King Gustav III of Sweden to mark the 15th anniversary of her reign. He told the Russian empress a legend that the gem had originally been given as a present to Caesar from Cleopatra. It was later established that the stone had actually been brought to Europe from Burma in the 16th century and was considered to be the largest ruby on the continent at the time. Catherine did not want to spoil it by cutting it, so the court jewelers simply polished it and decorated it with enamel leaves. The result was a stunning pendant.