Women Who Explored the Stars
Although they are rarely taught in the history of science, there have always been women astronomers. Aglaonike, considered the first woman astronomer, figured out how to predict lunar eclipses as far back as 200 B.C. Hypatia taught astronomy in Alexandria, Egypt around the year 400.
Here are a few of the women astronomers who have inspired our designs.
Carolyn Herschel began as her brother William Herschel’s assistant, helping him discover the planet Uranus in 1781. She became a noted astronomer in her own right, discovering 14 nebula and 8 comets. In her honor, we designed the Nebula Engagement Ring, with a beautiful twist like the currents of interstellar gas in the Veil Nebula.Comet Bangle, with a fiery lab-grown diamond and a pave diamond tail that wraps around your wrist.
Henrietta Swan LeavittAs a “computer” at the Harvard College Observatory in the early 1900s, Henrietta Swan Leavitt analyzed data from telescopes, categorizing stars that varied in brightness called cepheids. She recognized that there was a difference between how bright these stars appeared and how bright they really were, giving astronomers a tool to calculate how far away they were. Her discovery led to the most common methods we use today to calculate distance in the universe: it’s how we know how far away the Andromeda galaxy is and how large the observable universe is. We created the Andromeda Necklace in her honor, with a double halo of diamonds like the clouds of gas in the Andromeda galaxy.
Cecilia Payne-GaposchkinIn 1925 at Harvard, Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin earned the first doctorate in the new field of astronomy. She pioneered a method for determining the surface temperature of a star from the absorption spectrum. This research led to her discovery that the sun is composed mainly of hydrogen. She inspired the Sunburst Earring Jackets that surround diamond studs with brilliant beams of radiant sunlight.
Vera Cooper RubinAmerican astronomer Vera Rubin, born in 1928 in Philadelphia, was the first woman to observe using the Hubble telescope for her work. She studied the rotation of spiral galaxies, discovering that the rate of rotation didn’t match the observable mass of stars and gas. This discovery is the primary evidence for the existence of dark matter. In 1993, she was awarded the National Medal of Science for her scientific contribution to astronomy. Vera Rubin inspired our Galaxy Engagement Ring, with swirling double halos of diamonds.
Carolyn ShoemakerCarolyn Shoemaker discovered more than 30 comets and hundreds of asteroids. Born in 1929, she studied history, political science, and English literature. Her husband Gene Shoemaker interested her in searching for comets and asteroids. She eventually became an astronomy professor at Northern Arizona University. She co-discovered one of the most famous comets of all time, Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, which spectacularly collided with the planet Jupiter in 1994. She was awarded the Scientist of the Year Award in 1995. To celebrate her interest in comets and asteroids, we designed the Shooting Star Necklace with a beautiful rose gold tail.
Jocelyn Bell BurnellBorn in 1943 in Northern Ireland, Jocelyn Bell Burnell used huge radiotelescopes to study distant stars and galaxies. She discovered pulsars: the dense rapidly spinning neutron stars that emit a regular heartbeat of light. In her honor we designed the Pulsar Ring, with its heart beat of sparkling diamonds.
Eleanor HelinAmerican astronomer Eleanor “Glo” Helin worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology for more than 30 years. She discovered 872 asteroids, including Aten, Ra-Shalom, Nereus, and Castalia. We named the Asteroid Band, glittering with a belt of small diamonds, in her honor.
American astronomer Carolyn Porco is the world’s leading expert on planetary rings and moons that revolve around gas giants like Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. She worked as an imaging scientist on many missions to the outer solar system including Voyager, Cassini, and New Horizons. One of her greatest discoveries is the geysers of ice that Cassini captured erupting from Saturn’s sixth moon Enceladus. We created the Europa Engagement Ring in her honor, with an icy emerald cut diamond like the ice of Europa’s crust and a pave band like the rings of Saturn and Neptune.
You can celebrate these pioneering scientists during Women's History Month by looking up at the sky and appreciating what women have done to help us understand and appreciate it.