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Jewellery History

Gems of the Rich and Famous

quen elizabeth Her majesty Queen Elizabeth II:

The queen has so much jewellery that she had a special room made 40 feet below Buckingham palace about the size of an ice rink to keep all her precious gems in.

Also the Tower of London houses the British Crown Jewels. -  The Queen’s personal jewelry is valued at $57 million dollars. Her collection includes the so-called Timur Ruby, which is actually a magnificent spinel weighing 352.50 carats.  Inscribed on it is the names of several of the previous owners, who were Mughal emperors.

The British Queen also owns several of the large diamonds cut from the Cullinan, the rough that produced the Stars of Africa, the Cullinan I and II (530 carats and 317 carats), which are part of the Crown Jewels. She refers to the Cullinan III and Cullinan IV, 94 and 63 carats respectively, as "Granny's Chips."


Elizabeth Taylor elizabeth taylor

Is well known for her large jewellery collection, including the 33.19 carat Krupp diamond and the 69.42-carat pear shaped Taylor-Burton Diamond which now hangs from a diamond necklace after she decided it was just a little too large for a ring.

Richard Burton also gave her a heart-shaped yellow diamond which was originally a gift from Shah Jahan in 1621 to his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who also inspired the Taj Mahal.

Although Liz is usually associated with huge diamonds, she also has a fabulous collection of other gemstones. Another gift from Burton was La Peregrina, one of the largest and most historic pearls in existence, a pear shaped drop weighing 203.84 grains once owned by the Spanish royal family.


jackie kennedy Jackie Kennedy-Onassis

had exquisite taste in jewelry. She favoured large, colourful necklaces and bracelets from Van Cleef & Arpel. Her jewelry collection grew once she married Aristotle Onassis: he gave his bride $5 million in jewelry and often slipped bracelets from Harry Winston in the bouquets of flowers he sent her.

It is a well known fact that her engagement ring from Onassis sold for $2.6 million at the auction of the Estate of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis at Sotheby's on April 24, 1996.

You may not have heard about some of the other jewelry that sold at the auction: a beautiful 47-carat kunzite ring that President Kennedy purchased as a gift for his wife but never had the chance to give her.

- This sold for more than $410,000; a beautiful amethyst necklace with graduated drops which sold for $55,000;

lovely red tourmaline briolette earrings that dangled from amethysts, which sold for $35,000; a striking cabochon garnet flower brooch from the 19th century which sold for $145,000;

a spectacular 17.68-carat ruby ring which sold for $290,000; some cabochon ruby dangling earrings which sold for $360,000; and a cabochon ruby necklace that was a bargain at $247,500. One surprise was an interesting little scarecrow pin in gold and gems that sold for $100,000!


Marlene Dietrich marlene dietrich

in her movies she wore her own suite of amazing jewelry which was set with huge cabochon emeralds. (All those emeralds were particularly perfect for her role as the jewel thief in "Desire" in 1938.)
In "Stage Fright", Dietrich tries to use her jewelry to blackmail Jane Wyman. She also wears her own ruby bracelet in that film: that bracelet recently sold at Sotheby's for $990,000.

Once whilst baking a cake at Katherine Cornell's house, Marlene thought she had lost her 37.41-carat cabochon emerald ring which she had removed in the kitchen. The house was turned upside down but the ring couldn't be found. It was only during dessert that the ring was discovered by one of the dinner guests inside a piece of the cake!

mary pickfordMary Pickford

was never shown on film wearing any more jewelry than a string of pearls to preserve her image of innocence, but in real life she preferred very large rubies and star sapphires.

She owned both the 60-carat Star of Bombay and the 200-carat Star of India. And she was not shy about wearing them both at the same time.


Theda Bara theda bara

Theda didn't care for diamonds at all, and said so at every available opportunity. Instead, she wore an engraved emerald ring and a turquoise ring she called her talisman, which she never took off.


gloria swanson Gloria Swanson

had such extravagant taste in jewelry that she had to rent it. Inspite of paying only 10 percent of the value of her jewelry, one year her annual jewelry budget was $500,000.

Gloria Swanson wore an important emerald, amethyst and gold necklace by Iribe in "Affairs of Anatole" in 1920, starting a fashion for colorful jewelry.


Joan Crawford joan crawford

loved sapphires so much the press called them "Joan Blue." One of her favourite pieces was a bracelet set with three star sapphires of 73.15 carats, 63.61 carats, and 57.65 carats.

She received a 70-carat star sapphire engagement ring from her second husband. She also owned a 72-carat emerald cut sapphire which she often wore on the same finger!

In the forties, Crawford added a 75-carat amethyst ring and a huge 100-carat citrine ring, both emerald-cut with a simple mounting.


jean harlow Jean Harlow

also collected sapphires: her engagement ring from William Powell was a 150 carat cabochon sapphire. She wore it in her last movie, "Saratoga", in 1937.


Ivana Trump Mazzuchelli ivana trump

has a fantastic new engagement ring from the new husband set with a Kashmir sapphire from London jeweler Laurence Graff. Just goes to show you that this one has much better taste than her ex.