5 Most Famous Jewelry Gifts: Unveiling Their Remarkable Tales
November 27, 20233 min read
When it comes to offering sentimental gifts, it’s difficult to go wrong with jewelry - as Marilyn herself once sang, diamonds are a girl’s best friend! But what’s often even more interesting than a jewelry gift is the story behind it; whether it be the process of saving for an expensive diamond necklace, or the collective effort to keep a diamond ring a secret until the proposal.
We’ve already discussed some of the most expensive Swarovski figurines and their stories over on our blog, and so for this article we’re going to be talking about the 5 most famous jewelry gifts in modern times, from Hollywood stars to European royals. Let’s take a look!
The Taylor-Burton Diamond
Starting off with a trip back to the 20th century, one of the most famous and iconic pieces of jewelry in history was the Taylor-Burton Diamond: this exquisite gemstone - a symbol of the passionate, on/off relationship between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton - was a remarkable 69.42-carat, pear-shaped diamond. Originally cut from a rough stone weighing 240.80 carats found in the Premier Mine in South Africa, Burton purchased the diamond for Taylor in 1969, and it quickly became one of the most talked-about jewels of the era. Its sheer size, - and the remarkable love story that accompanied it - made the Taylor-Burton Diamond one of the most famous jewelry pieces in the world, and the true epitome of Hollywood glamor and luxury.
Wallis Simpson's Cartier Bracelet
The scandalous romance between US socialite Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII - marked by his historic and headline-making abdication of the English crown in 1936 - can be traced in the remarkable collection of custom-made Cartier pieces that the two gifted one another during their courtship and marriage. These pieces, symbols of their challenging but fiery relationship, were later auctioned by Sotheby's in 2010.
Highlighting this auction was Simpson's extraordinary 1952 Cartier panther bracelet: adorned with onyx, diamonds, and striking emerald eyes, this had been a gift from Edward VIII to his lover while they lived in exile in Paris. Crafted by Jeanne Toussaint, also known as 'La Panthère', this piece can easily be considered one of the most iconic and history-making of all the jewelry gifts listed this article - and in a small way, it lead to Princess Elizabeth becoming Queen in 1952! And while the collection of jewelry fetched an astonishing £4.5 million when sold in 2010, the identity of the mysterious buyer remains unknown.
Grace Kelly’s Van Cleef & Arpels Pearls
Grace Kelly was simply the epitome of elegance and grace during her reign as Hollywood’s leading lady in the 1950, but the starlet was also known for her globally-covered wedding to Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1956. And it was to celebrate this wedding that her husband-to-be gifted her the now-iconic Van Cleef & Arpels pearls wedding jewelry set, complete with diamond flat back crystals and real, authentic pearls. These pieces became a staple for the actress-turned-Princess, and not long after the wedding, Van Cleef & Arpels were known as the “Patented supplier of the Principality of Monaco.”
Barbara Sinatra’s Engagement Ring
Barbara Sinatra, the wife of the legendary singer Frank Sinatra, wasn’t the only Hollywood bride to receive a dazzling engagement ring from her future husband-to-be - and the story behind this one makes it all the more iconic! While Barbara and Frank Sinatra were said to have shared something of a fiery and tumultuous relationship before marriage, Sinatra reportedly sealed the deal by throwing two luxurious diamond rings onto the bed one night and asking Barbara to pick between them. According to Barbara Sinatra’s biography, Barbara then chose her favorite ring between the two, and Frank then placed it into a champagne flute. Rather than proposing directly, Barbara then instructed Frank which finger to put it on - the fourth one, of course! The 20-carat diamond ring was sold at Sotheby’s for $1.7 million in 2018.
Princess Diana’s Engagement Ring
In a more recent example, one of the most iconic jewelry pieces of the 21st century perhaps belongs to a current member of the British Royal Family. Yes, we’re talking about Princess Diana’s engagement ring! While the ring was initially inherited by Prince Harry, his brother Prince William - now Prince of Wales - offered the late Princess’ engagement ring to his then-girlfriend Kate Middleton, when he proposed to her during a romantic holiday in Kenya in 2010. This ring, with its iconic 12-carat oval sapphire surrounded by 14 solitaire diamonds set in white gold, is perhaps one of the most famous pieces of jewelry in the world. Designed by Garrad and originally chosen by Princess Diana, the ring has a mixed legacy of both love and loss, and is no doubt one of the most famous and easily-recognised jewelry pieces in modern history.