The gems of the rich and famous have captivated people's imaginations for centuries.
Whether it's about the legends and mystery around the stones, to their eon-old stories or just for their sheer beauty, the gems of the rich and famous around the globe stir passion and lust.
Her majesty Queen Elizabeth II has jewelry. In fact she has so much jewelry that she has a special room to keep it in about the size of an ice rink, and situated 40 feet beneath Buckingham Palace. That does not even include the British Crown Jewels which are kept in the Tower of London. The Queen's personal jewelry is conservatively valued at $57 million and most of it was received as gifts. One of the highlights of the collection is the so-called Timur Ruby, which is actually a magnificent spinel weighing 352.50 carats. It is inscribed with the names of several of the previous owners, who were Mughal emperors. Other fabulous gems in her collection include the Cambridge and Delhi Dunbar Parure, a fantastic suite of emerald jewelry which includes an emerald diadem; the Prince Albert Brooch, a huge sapphire which was given to Queen Victoria by Prince Albert the day before their wedding; Queen Mary's large ruby earrings, and a v-shaped ruby and diamond bandeau collar which the Queen models on the front cover of the publication "The Jewels of Queen Elizabeth", by Leslie Field, a whole book about her personal jewelry collection. 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 reportedly refers to the Cullinan III and Cullinan IV, 94 and 63 carats respectively, as "Granny's Chips."
Elizabeth Taylor has a well known jewelry 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 Liz 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. As an engagement present, Richard Burton gave her the emerald and diamond brooch, which she wears with an emerald necklace he gave her as a wedding present. Earrings, a bracelet, and a ring followed. Some of the emeralds in the set were from the Grand Duchess Vladimir of Russia. One of Taylor's husbands, Michael Wilding, gave her a cabochon sapphire engagement ring. Mike Todd gave her a spectacular ruby necklace and earring set. 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.
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis had as exquisite a taste in jewelry as in everything else. She favored large, colorful necklaces and bracelets from Van Cleef & Arpel. Her jewelry collection grew considerably when she married Aristotle Onassis: he gave his bride $5 million in jewelry and often slipped bracelets from Harry Winston in the biweekly 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 in many of her movies, wore her own suite of dramatic 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 when 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 Pickford was never shown on film wearing 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 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 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 loved sapphires so much the press called them "Joan Blue." One of her favorite pieces was a bracelet set with three star sapphires of 73.15 carats, 63.61 carats, and 57.65 carats. She also 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 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 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.
Mouna Al-Rashid, the former wife of a Saudi Arabian billionaire who is now active on the social scene in New York, has a jewelry collection estimated to be worth $100 million. Rumor has it that the jewelry is due to her shrewd business sense: after every major deal on which she gave her advice, she purchased a major gem. "I enjoy having it more than wearing it," she told W magazine. "It is a smart way of investing. I try to buy important pieces that will always bring their market value." She has a staggering emerald necklace and fabulous rubies, which are her trademark.