10 of the Most Expensive Jewelry Pieces in Hollywood Films
August 1, 2017
Diamond necklaces, rare rubies, pearl strands, and over sized sapphires that truly show Hollywood’s love affair with jewelry, beauty and all things grand.
SATINE’S DIAMOND NECKLACE FROM THE DUKE
By Stefano Canturi for Moulin Rouge! (2001)
In the film Moulin Rouge!, Nicole Kidman plays Satine, the star courtesan of the infamous French nightclub who is used as a pawn in getting the powerful Duke (played by Richard Roxburgh) to purchase the club and transform it into a theater. In one disturbing scene of seduction, the Duke gifts Satine a large necklace dripping with diamonds to try and win her affections. The young woman is secretly in love with Christian (Ewan McGregor), a penniless writer who has taught her that “love” is superior to any material object. The statement piece was created by Stefano Canturi specially for the 2001 original movie musical, and held the record of being the most expensive piece of jewelry ever made for a film during its time of release. The 134-carat diamond necklace was made with 1,308 diamonds and is estimated to cost $1 million.
THE ONE RING
By Jens Hansen Gold & Silversmith for The Lord of the Rings series
Those who follow Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings series and its spin-off Hobbit movies, know that the One Ring plays an integral role in its plot. In the story, antagonist Sauron created the One Ring to control those who wear 11 other connected rings for full domination of the land. A young Hobbit named Frodo (Elijah Wood) finds himself possession of the ring and promises to destroy it by throwing it into a crater in Mount Doom. New Zealand-based jewelry designer Jens Hansen Gold & Silversmith was commissioned to bring the J.R.R Tolkien ring to life. They came up with fifteen 18-karat gold rings (varying in size) to be used for the filming duration of the entire Lord of the Rings series.
CARRIE BRADSHAW’S ENGAGEMENT RING
By Itay Malkin for Sex and the City 2 (2008)
At a vital moment in the story of the iconic Carrie Bradshaw, her not-so-perfect Prince Charming, Mr. Big finally proposes with an engagement ring. But in true Bradshaw fashion, it is far from the nexpected. Throughout Sex and the City’s television run, the character (played by Sarah Jessica Parker) made headlines with her innovative fashion and unique sense of style. By the end of the first season, Parker was a fashion icon. The success of the show spawned two feature films to conclude Carrie’s epic love story as New York’s Last Single Gal. The pressure was on to create the perfect ring that captured the sensibilities of the character. The result, Itay Malkin’s avant-garde design of a 5-karat black diamond ring enclosed by 80 transparent pave diamonds.
RUBIES AND DIAMONDS SET FOR THE OPERA
Borrowed by Marilyn Vance Straker for Pretty Woman (1990)
Before Julia Roberts and Richard Gere left for the opera, Roberts stepped out wearing a blood red gown—a romantic moment in the film Pretty Women, the risqué Cinderella story of the 1990s. Gere’s character pulls out a red velvet box and slowly opens it to reveal an exquisite necklace made with 23 pear-cut rubies at the center of diamond hearts complete with a matching set of earrings. As Julia reaches for it, he shuts it immediately and she laughs. It is a scene to be remembered. Surprisingly, it was unscripted and kept in the movie because it felt so natural—making an iconic jewelry moment caught on film that would positively effect Julia Roberts’ career and 90s fashion. Costing $1.35 million, the set was borrowed by costume designer Marilyn Vance Straker. For the duration of film, the jewels were accompanied by a group of heavily armed bodyguards.
MARILYN’S GLITTERY BEST FRIEND
Borrowed from Meyer Rosenabaum for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
Marilyn Monroe will forever be associated with show tune Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend which she performed in a pink cocktail dress with an oversized ribbon (while dripping in diamonds, of course) for the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. The diamond neckpiece she sports is the rare Moon of Baroda piece which was owned by the Maharajah of Baroda, India for more than 500 years. By the 18th century it was in the possession of Austrian Empress Maria Theresa, before it was stolen and brought back to India in which it was returned to Baroda for another 200 years. It was later purchased by Meyer Rosebaum and lent to Marilyn Monroe for the 1953 musical comedy. The impressive piece consists of a 24-carat pear shaped yellow canary diamond on a choker and has been instilled in the mind of movie lover’s as Marilyn’s signature piece.
HOLLY GOLIGHTLY’S DIAMONDS AND PEARL STRAND
By Tiffany & Co. for Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
When the 1961 adaptation of Truman Capote’s novel Breakfast at Tiffany’s hit theaters with superstar Audrey Hepburn in the leading role all the eyes were on the brand. The iconic opening sequence featured Audrey’s Holly Golightly enjoying a croissant and coffee while admiring pieces through the window of the 5th Avenue flagship store. Fans were in love with the Tiffany’s multi-strand pearl and diamond necklace and diamante hair ornament the actress wore in the film. It was the ideal match to Audrey’s Givenchy black dress which caused a stir in the fashion world. It marked a turning point in modern women’s fashion.
THE HEART OF THE OCEAN
By Harry Winston for Titanic (1997)
The 1997 blockbuster hit directed by James Cameron told the fictionalized love story of Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet) aboard the true RMS Titanic, which tragically sunk on its maiden voyage to New York City. In one particular scene, Rose’s jealous fiancé Cal (played Billy Zane) gifted her with the Heart of the Ocean, a rare diamond he claims belonged to King Louis XVI which was fashioned to the shape of a heart at the end of the French Revolution. The piece was inspired by the Hope Diamond, which is valued at $250 million. Although the Heart of the Ocean used in the Oscar winning film was merely a prop, producers of the film commissioned Harry Winston to create a real piece after the film became a massive hit. The jewelry company used a 170-carat Ceylon blue sapphire instead of a blue diamond and enclosed it with 103 diamonds. It is valued at $4 million. For its red carpet debut, Gloria Stuart (who played the Old Rose in the film) wore it to the Academy Awards, the night she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress. It was said to be the most expensive piece of jewelry worn at the Oscars during the time.
ANDIE’S DIAMOND NECKLACE FOR THE FROST BALL
By Harry Winston for How to Loose a Guy in 10 Days (2003)
The climax of the 2003 romantic comedy How to Loose a Guy in 10 Days happens at the Warren Frost Ball, where both Ben (Matthew McConaughey) and Andie (Kate Hudson) reveal their true intentions in dating each another. Andie was simply writing an article for her column on how to drive a man crazy in under 10 days. While Ben had made a bet that he could make any woman fall for him. If he were to prove it in time for the ball, he would be granted the opportunity to handle the large DeLaur Diamond account for his advertising firm. The theme of the Frost Ball allowed women to “Frost themselves” (a clever slogan conceived by Ben encouraging women to cover themselves in diamonds). Harry Winston came on board, lending the film a total of $14 million worth of jewelry for that particular scene. The most extraordinary was the 51.94-carat yellow sapphire pendant set on an 84-karat Isadora diamond necklace worn by star Kate Hudson. It remains to be the most expensive piece of jewelry ever made for a motion picture, costing $5 million. The piece was so impressive that costume designers created a special gala gown for the actress to wear with it. The look was instantly iconic.
DOROTHY’S RUBY SLIPPERS
By Gilbert Adrian for The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Although not made out of real rubies, the iconic ruby slippers (made out of mere sequin…and a lot of film magic) from the Wizard of Oz is as rare and expensive as actual jewelry. Designed by Gilbert Adrian for the 1939 MGM picture, it is rumored that at least seven slippers exist. So far, only four have been accounted for. The first was found in a dusty MGM storage facility by a Kent Warner. He sold it to actress Debbie Reynolds who at the time was prepping to open a museum with memorbillia from Hollywood’s Golden Age. Reynolds eventually sold it at auction in 1979 to a collector for $15,000, who donated it to the Smithsonian Museum. Over the years, the price of the elusive ruby slippers only rose in value. Lady Gaga is said to own a pair, after it was gifted to her on her 25th birthday. In 2012, Leonardo DiCaprio purchased the most important of the known four ruby slipper pairs. The pair he bought was inscribed with “#7 Judy Garland AKA Witch’s Shoe,” which is said to be the one Judy Garland wore in the movie. He returned it to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (which is popularly known by the public as the awards giving body that hands out Oscars every year). They are set to be displayed in their upcoming museum which will open in 2018. The most popular ruby slipper story is that of collector Michael Shaw, who loaned his pair to a Minnesota Museum. It was eventually stolen, which caused a media frenzy. Today, there is still a search for the missing pair, with an anonymous party putting out a $1 million reward to anybody who can bring the slippers safety back to its owner.
DORIS DAY’S SEXY 50s JEWELRY
Borrowed by Laykin et Cie for Pillow Talk (1959)
When 1950s sweetheart Doris Day was signed on to play Jan Murrow’s in sex-comedy Pillow Talk, Hollywood was abuzz. It was a whole new type of project for the Calamity Jane star who was known for her wholesome roles in the bubbly musicals of the Golden Age. The humorous screenplay involved Rock Hudson tricking her into uncomfortable situations that would take advantage of the pretty blonde. Day played a successful interior designer in New York City. Costume designer Jean Louis was on a mission to show audiences that the actress had the potential to be sexy and designed 18 to 24 costumes for her wear that would show off her figure in an elegant, yet provocative way. Jewelry firm handler Laykin et Cie (established in 1932) was commissioned to source jewelry. Because of Day’s fearless decision to do the movie and the popularity of Jean Louis as a designer, the company was able to encourage brands to lend them a whopping $500,000 worth of jewelry for the actress to wear in the film. In today’s dollars that is worth $4.1 million, which was a record breaker at the time.
Text by Chino R. Hernandez
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