The Castle Lizzadro is the largest gold castle of its kind. Credit: Courtesy the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art

Chicago’s real gold coast shines out of a small display in an Elmhurst museum dedicated to the art of cutting and polishing stone. The diamond-studded, 18-karat-gold Castle Lizzadro at the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art (220 Cottage Hill) is a fantasy castle in the sense that it’s only otherwise seen in novels that feature dragons and that if the castle were sold it would bring in a fantastic amount of money.

The 18-inch-wide, 14-inch-tall castle perched on an “ocean” of agate was commissioned in memory of the 15-year-old grandson of museum founder Joseph Lizzadro after he drowned in 1983. Goldsmith William Tolliday of Garrard & Co. (England’s crown jeweler up until 2007) sculpted the piece, and it’s the largest he would make, according to Dorothy Asher, director of the Lizzadro Museum. Tolliday combined yellow, white, and red gold for color and depth; the roofs are silver, and the windows are multifaceted, rectangular diamonds. The sculpture goes into intricate detail—visitors are sometimes asked how many tiny cannons they can find. “There’s a lot of hidden crevices. There’s a little cove, there’s a little hoist,” Asher said. “Adults and kids love it.”

So what would this platonic ideal of an MTV’s Cribs episode fetch at auction? “Now that the artist is deceased, you wouldn’t know,” said Asher, though it won’t show up on the block any time soon—it means too much to the museum. “Not in my lifetime, at least,” she said.

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