Colombia’s Paulina Vega edged out Nia Sanchez of the U.S. to take the title of Miss Universe on Sunday night in Miami, and atop her head was a newly designed crown valued at $300,000.
Reminiscent of the New York City skyline, the bejeweled headpiece comprises diamonds, sapphires, topazes and crystals set in 18-karat white gold.
Thirty-three translucent Bohemian crystals of varying heights represent the buildings of the cityscape, while five light blue topazes (symbolizing strength and loyalty) add a brilliant burst of color. The base of the crown is crafted from 220 grams of 18-karat gold and is rimmed by 311 diamonds weighing 10.37 carats and 198 dark blue sapphires weighing 29.7 carats.
The colorless crystals are backed with a metallic material to enhance the light reflection, according to the crown’s designer and pageant sponsor Diamonds International Corp.
The Miss Universe organization noted that the crown “symbolizes and expresses the beauty, stability, confidence and power of women around the world.” DIC reported that the crown took more than 3,000 hours to create and incorporates themes from the company’s Czech Republic roots and those of the Big Apple, where the Miss Universe organization is based. DIC signed a 10-year contract to be the pageant’s official crown provider.
Overall, the crown weighs in at 411 grams (just under 1 pound). It travels in a case made of Italian leather.
Vega, a 22-year-old student of business administration from the city of Barranquilla, beat out a strong field that included contestants from more than 80 countries.
Donald Trump, the reality TV star and real estate mogul who owns the pageant, had a hunch that Vega would be wearing the crown on Sunday. "From the minute she walked in the building, people said, 'She's a star,'" Trump told the Associated Press.
Vega accepted her new crown with great poise during the culmination of the pageant — unlike her predecessor, who nearly suffered the ultimate humiliation of dropping her bejeweled crown in front of an international television audience of one billion.
Fans of the Miss Universe pageant may remember that Venezuela’s Gabriela Isler fumbled — but didn’t drop — the crown after it was accidentally dislodged from her head during the crowning ceremony.
The new Miss Universe will receive an undisclosed salary, a luxury apartment in New York, a wardrobe, beauty products and a one-year scholarship from the New York Film Academy.
Vega was only the second Colombian to win the title of Miss Universe. The first was Luz Marina Zuluaga in 1958.
Images: Facebook/Miss Universe; YouTube screen grab.