A History of Engagement Rings Vol. 2: The 1970’s
We loved researching and writing the Famous Jewelry In The Movies series so much that when it ended, we felt a little lost. But then we started to think about engagement rings and how the styles have changed from decade to decade and bam! A new series idea was born. So, over the next 10 weeks we’ll explore the history of the engagement ring starting with the 1980’s (because you know we love our vintage) and heading backwards to the late 1800’s. Are you ready for the ride? Excellent!
Well, we couldn’t talk about engagement rings in the 1980’s with out mentioning one of the most famous rings of that time period: Princess Diana’s sapphire and diamond stunner. With the unveiling of that ring, women all over the world began clamoring for engagement rings with a sapphire center stone surrounded by diamonds and thus a trend was born. Or… reborn, we should say. Diamonds as the centerpiece of an engagement ring are a relatively new phenomenon and prior to the late 1930’s, colored stones were much more popular for an engagement ring (we’ll get into that down the road).
But even with the popularity of Diana and her ring, there were still other trends that played out in the years that made up the over the top 80’s (beyond my Liz Claiborne bag, filled with Aqua Net, necessary for the required bang height, and neon nail polish to go with my pink leopard print stirrup pants, but I digress….). Yellow gold was HOT and the trend de rigueur. But what else do you need during an over the top era to go with your yellow gold?
As many different types of cut diamonds as possible, apparently. And set in as many ways as one could imagine. There were the standard round brilliant cuts, of course, but the marquise was center stage and often accompanied by channel set stones on the sides or in a flourish or swoop down the shank. And often found with a wedding band to match!
Is this your favorite era for engagement rings? Do you have an engagement ring from the 1980’s? Tell us all about it in the comments!
With our Famous Jewelry In The Movies series over and out next (surprise) series not beginning until next week, we couldn’t just leave you hanging. So tonight, we bring you: The Five Most Expensive Diamonds Every Sold At Auction. Let’s dive right in.
The Blue Moon:
The Lessedi La Rona
The Pink Star
So…. now that you’ve seen them all, which of the Five Most Expensive Diamonds Ever Sold At Auction would you choose? Tell us in the comments!
For our final edition of Jewelry In The Movies, we bring you The Great Gatsby. Maybe we saved it until last because we most identify with the prohibition/flapper era. Maybe it was because Tiffany’s came out with a line to celebrate the film. Or maybe it was just because we couldn’t take our eyes off of all of the jewels that Carey Mulligan’s character Daisy Buchanan wore. While maybe a bored housewife of sorts, she did have the opportunity to wear the jewelry of the elite of the time. Yes, she was married to a bore. Yes, she could have had Jay Gatsby instead. We could debate her choices here forever. What’s not up for debate is how fabulous the jewels were.
So fabulous, in fact, that Tiffany’s created an entire line which debuted around the launch of Baz Luhramnn’s adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel. We’ve highlighted a few pieces here, many of which you can see in the film itself.
While heading out for a night on the town, Daisy is decked out in not just her island of an engagement ring, but also in several jewels, including those listed below. We have our favorite. Which is yours?
(1) The Savoy, a diamond and freshwater cultured pearl headpiece with a detachable brooch (from The Great Gatsby Collection by Tiffany & Co.)
(2) A hand ornament with a daisy motif in diamonds, cultured pearls and platinum from The Great Gatsby Collection by Tiffany & Co.
(3) A ring of pavé set diamonds and a center stone of 5.25 cts in platinum. From The Great Gatsby Collection by Tiffany & Co.
(4) The Tiffany Bangle with a fan motif in platinum with black lacquer, from The Great Gatsby Collection by Tiffany & Co.
(5) Tiffany diamond drop earrings in platinum, from The Great Gatsby Collection by Tiffany & Co.
If you are a true jewelry lover, then you know one of the greatest collectors of all time was Elizabeth Taylor. Richard Burton was coined as saying, “I introduced Elizabeth to beer. She introduced me to Bulgari. The only word Elizabeth knows in Italian is Bulgari.” Taylor and Burton met on the set of Cleopatra and history was made.
Not only did the movie break production spending records ($44M then, which would equate to over $300M in today’s dollars) and almost bankrupt 20th Century Fox but it also ignited the now infamous Burton/Taylor love affair. An affair so steamy and torrid, it prompted The Vatican to denounce the couple as “erotic vagrancy.” And while the film had amazing costumes (65 costume changes for Taylor alone) most of the jewelry, even the iconic serpent armband that’s oh so reminiscent of a Bulgari motif, was costume.
Taylor’s 24kt gold cloth cape, designed to look like the wings of a phoenix, was made of tiny straps of leather, encrusted seed beads, bugle beads and bead anchored sequins. There were fake headdresses, armbands, breastplates and crowns all glittering about. But the real jewels of Cleopatra, were those acquired off-screen.
While Burton’s mistress and then later his wife, Elizabeth Taylor was bestowed with sparkling gift after sparkling gift from Burton. Heck, even her husband at the time of the filming, a heartbroken Eddie Fisher, whose marriage to Carrie Fisher’s mom, Debbie Reynolds, Taylor had broken up, tried to woo Elizabeth back with yellow diamond jewelry from Bulgari, taking a page from Richard Burton’s playbook.
But alas, it was to no avail. Burton had already won – perhaps solely via his choice of baubles. Which is your favorite? Tell us in the comments below.
Of the girl foursome, Charlotte was the first to get engaged to the dashing doctor Trey McDougal. He proposed with a Tiffany’s blue box (as one would expect of a blue blood), which held inside a traditional solitaire (swipe left to see the rings in order).
Carrie and Aiden Shaw are next on the list. Aiden had picked out a ring that Carrie found pre-proposal. She knew it wasn’t her style and bemoaned the choice to her girl team. Luckily, Samantha stepped in because when Aiden finally got down on one knee, the “ugly” ring was no where to be found and in its place was a gorgeous asscher cut solitaire.
Miranda was next in line and she actually had no engagement ring at all. Instead, she and Steve Brady decided on simple gold bands and she married him while wearing a oxblood velvet ensemble. So much for the beaten path.
Charlotte was up again, having fallen for her divorce attorney Harry Goldenblatt. Harry may not have initially been what Charlotte thought she wanted in a man, but in the end she fell hard and love prevailed. And Harry proposed with a emerald cut diamond the size of a small skating rink!
While Samantha and Smith Jerrod never officially got engaged, he did buy her a ring. And like Samantha, it was definitely not traditional. Samantha, used to getting what she wanted, was bidding on the ring at auction while visiting the girls in NY but there was a phone bidder that was more determined. Upon arriving back in LA where they were living, Samantha is presented with the floral showstopper – the mysterious phone bidder was none other than Smith. When the relationship ended, she tried to return the ring to Smith, but he asked her to keep it.
And that brings us full circle to Carrie, Mr. Big and the black diamond. For years now, women have been asking each other which Sex In The City character are you? We have a better question – which ring would you choose?! Tell us below!
Stefano Canturi, an Australia jeweler, is the genius behind the necklace’s design. We do have to wonder if Nicole Kidman, the actress who played the main character, Satine, had any say in the choice of jeweler to design the piece, as they both share Australian heritage. Canturi has said he was inspired by the Louis XVI style, openwork lace patterns, scrolls and splendorous bodice jewelry, typical of the late 1800’s in France.
The necklace, which had been held in Canturi’s collection since the movie, was set to go under the hammer at auction in NYC by Christie’s in October of 2001 and was set to be the crowning jewel (sorry – we couldn’t resist) of the two-day sale. However, it’s said that he told a Christie’s employee that he loved the necklace too much and just could not part with it, so it was not auctioned off after all, and still remains in his collection. Can you blame him? We wouldn’t be able to let it go either. Would you have sold it for its estimated $1.2M or would you also have been too attached to part with it? Tell us in the comments below.
Ok, another film we haven’t seen but still yet another piece of gorgeous jewelry with great history! In this movie, the setting is just after the end of medieval times, when dresses were big and heavy and men wore tights. Even the kings. If you’re not familiar with the storyline, King Henry the VIII is running through wives like some of us run through donuts (certainly we’re not speaking about ourselves, but we’ve read about people that eat a lot of donuts). Henry, who is married to Queen Catherine of Aragon, has had his way with Anne Boleyn’s sister, Mary, by this time, and likely fathered two children by her, although he never claimed them. At the time of his wooing of Anne, he was still married to Queen Catherine. But apparently, he’d grown tired of Catherine (and possibly concerned with having no legitimate male heir) and tried to have the marriage annulled. Which would have worked fine, since Anne’s marriage to an Earl’s son had been broken off by the Cardinal. But alas, Pope Clement VII wouldn’t grant the King an annulment and Catherine had to be dealt with. It’s largely believed that this single event began the separation of England from the Catholic Church and Church of England.
But on to the jewelry. For those of you that have seen the film, Anne wears a fantastic gold and pearl “B” necklace in several scenes. And while the one in the film is likely costume, there was an actual “B” necklace owned and worn by Anne. She’s seen in several portraits with it on. But here’s the debate that’s raged on for centuries: after Anne was beheaded, it was believed by some that the necklace was broken apart and redesigned into a piece for Jane Seymour (the King’s next love interest). Others think it was saved for Anne’s daughter and reworked (the pearls are suspiciously like some shown in portraits of a young Elizabeth I), until pieces eventually made their way into Queen Elizabeth II’s crown (the current reigning monarch)!
We do know that, as odd as it may seem, given how he disposed of her, Henry did retain some of Anne’s possessions As suggested in the book “The Life And Death of Anne Boleyn” by Eric Ives: “It was customary to make and remake pieces for the next Tudor sovereign and in Anne’s case, items specific to her would have been almost immediately broken up. Even so, Henry repurchased from Thomas Trappers a gold bowl ‘having Queen Anne’s sapphire upon the top of the cover’ and his post-mortem inventories included a dust bowl of gold (for blotting ink) with a crown on the lid and ‘H’ and ‘A’ in enamel’. Ives goes on to describe how Henry also kept a tablet of gold bearing the monogram ‘HA’ set with small emeralds, pearls, and one diamond. Did Henry have a change of heart? Did the necklace survive, to become a part of their daughter, later to be Queen Elizabeth I’s, jewels, as some have suggested? We’ll never know.
But we do know that Elizabeth kept her mother close to her. Having lost her mom when she was only three, she certainly hardly knew her if at all. But she had her close at hand (literally), in a ring she never took off, which held portraits of mother and daughter inside a secret compartment.
Oh, to know for sure what happened to that necklace. Was it in fact broken apart and given to Jane? Did it make its way into jewels held by Anne’s daughter, who was later to become Queen and then on down the line to the current monarch? We’ll never know. What do you think?
This movie may be the movie that has had the most impact on the jewelry industry of any yet. Yes, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a close second, but from what we can tell, GPB was chocked full of sparkle power. How could it be anything but when you have Marilyn Monroe uttering phrases like, “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” and “Talk to me, Harry Winston, tell me about it,” among others? It’s said that diamonds weren’t necessarily equated as a must for an engagement ring until 1) this movie came out and 2) DeBeers’ advertising agency rep, Frances Gerety, with N. W. Ayer out of Philadelphia, coined the phrase, “A diamond is forever,” in a morning strategy meeting in 1947.
Ironically, at first, the phrase was poo-pooed by not only all of the men in the men in the room (almost all of the folks in the room were men) but also by Gerety herself. DeBeers had hired the agency in 1938 to make Americans fall in love with the idea of diamond engagement rings. It worked, albeit almost 10 years down the road. And the phrase is still as powerful today, seventy years later, as it was back then.
But on to what we’re really here for – to learn about the jewels in the film. For starters, as Marilyn is dancing around in her pink satin strapless gown, with men literally falling at her feet, she’s wearing one heck of a necklace (actually, she’s wearing a couple but there’s one that’s truly notable) – possibly the oldest piece of fine jewelry ever worn in a movie: The Moon of Baroda is a 24.04ct pear-shaped, yellow, canary diamond necklace, with an interesting story of its own, one that stretches for centuries before landing in Hollywood.
Most of the rest of the jewels in the movie, while appearing to be vintage (by today’s standards) and real, were in fact costume, but quite lovely. If only we knew where they were today, along with that amazing 24ct pear. We’ve posted some of the various scenes (photo credit: Twentieth Century Fox) that co-started lots of sparkly pieces. Which scene is your favorite?
Released in 2003 and starring Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey, the movie has a third co-star (you guessed it – I mean this is “Famous Jewelry In The Movies” after all). But we’ll get to that in a minute.
For those that haven’t seen the film. Andie Anderson (played by Hudson) writes for a fictitious magazine called “Composure”. She covers the “How To” beat for the mag and it’s decided she’ll write a story about how to lose a guy, using all of the “stereotypical” things women do to drive new boyfriends away. Enter in McConaughey’s character Benjamin Barry – an advertising exec and general ladies man about town. He’s agreed to a bet that he can make a woman fall in love with him in a week, in an effort to prove he understands women, and therefore should be granted a new account: DeLauer Diamonds (possibly a shot at DeBeers??).
We’re sure you can guess how things progress: she does her best to drive him away, while he hangs on for dear life. It all builds up to the big event – a gala that’s the brain child of Ben, put on by DeLauer, to showcase their fine wares. Enter stage left the $14,200,000 worth of jewelry loaned to the film for the famous “Frost Yourself” gala scene.
The star of the ball is the wreath necklace loaned to Hudson’s character, Andie Anderson, to be worn during the gala, boasting an impressive 84ct yellow diamond pendant called “Isadora” (named after Isadora Duncan in the movie) worth between $5M – $6M (which sold shortly after filming to an undisclosed customer). It was, of course, a stunner created by none other than Harry Winston. Runner up? The pair of 5ct radiant cut yellow diamond stud earrings she wore, worth approximately $125,000 that complimented the yellow satin gown, custom designed to go with the ensemble.
So, what was your favorite piece of jewelry in the “Frost Yourself” scene? There were SO many to choose from! Tell us in the comments below.