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Travel Briefs 03.10.13

This undated handout phoprovided by The Smithsonian's National Museum Natural History shows one side 'Royal Butterfly Brooch' . The museum

This undated handout photo provided by The Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History shows one side of the "Royal Butterfly Brooch" . The museum is unveiling the newest addition to its famous gem collection with a butterfly brooch made of 2,300 gems. The "Royal Butterfly Brooch" was created in 2009 by Taiwanese jewelry artist Cindy Chao. She is donating the piece to the museum, making it the first Taiwanese-designed item in the National Gem Collection. It goes on display Wednesday. The Royal Butterfly is composed of 2,328 gems, totaling 77 carats. It includes colored and color-changing sapphires and diamonds, rubies and tsavorite garnets. The centerpieces of the butterfly's wings are four large-faceted diamond slices. (AP Photo/Don Hurlbert, Smithsonian' Institution) ORG XMIT: WX105

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Updated: April 11, 2013 6:33AM



D.C.’s Cherry Blossom prime time

Washington’s famous cherry tree blooms are expected to be at their best between March 26 and March 30. National Park Service cherry tree expert James Perry made the prediction for the peak bloom time at a press conference this past Monday. The average peak bloom date is April 4, but last year’s peak came earlier on March 20, due to the warm weather. Perry says the trees are blooming a little bit earlier than 50 or 75 years ago. The cherry blossoms draw about 1 million visitors to the nation’s capital each spring. This year marks the 101st anniversary of the gift of trees from Japan.

New resort planned for Las Vegas Strip

Panda habitats, tea gardens and red pagodas have never been part of the visual vocabulary of the Las Vegas Strip. But Sin City is about to get all three and much more as a Malaysian conglomerate prepares to build the first new mega-casino to come to town since the recession wiped out a slew of projects in 2008. The Genting Group announced that it will break ground in 2014 on the 87-acre site where the partially built Echelon project has sat for nearly five years. Genting, Southeast Asia’s largest casino operator, will rebrand the languishing structure Resorts World Las Vegas. The project is designed to make tourists accustomed to the casinos of Singapore and Malaysia feel at home, and to give American tourists a taste of another culture. It will feature pagoda-style roofs on soaring glass towers, martial arts performances, regional Chinese cuisine and what officials describe as a more family-friendly atmosphere. The complex will include at least 3,500 hotel rooms, a convention center and a 4,000-seat theater. Genting paid $350 million for the property and will spend as much as $7 billion building; Construction is slated to in 2014 with an opening scheduled for 2016.

Smithsonian displays 2,300-gem brooch

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History has an addition to its famous gem collection: It’s a butterfly brooch made of 2,300 gems.

The “Royal Butterfly Brooch” was created in 2009 by Taiwanese jewelry artist Cindy Chao. She is donating the piece to the museum, making it the first Taiwanese-designed item in the National Gem Collection. The Royal Butterfly is composed of 2,328 gems, totaling 77 carats. It includes colored and color-changing sapphires and diamonds, rubies and tsavorite garnets. The centerpieces of the butterfly’s wings are four large-faceted diamond slices.

Curators say it sparkles in daylight but under ultraviolet light in the dark, it glows. Chao put its value at $680,000. The butterfly joins the Hope Diamond and Marie Antoinette earrings on display. Visit www.mnh.si.edu.



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