Famous Emeralds Throughout Time (Part II)

Famous Emeralds Throughout Time (Part II)

By: Beth Bernstein

[Also read Part I of this story, where we bring you the engaging, the earlier, and the exiled emeralds that have fascinated celebrities.]

Throughout the 19th and mid-20th centuries, the renowned houses worked with these deep and optimistic green stones and oftentimes various houses were linked to the celebrated and famed women who wore their jewels.


Take Elizabeth Taylor and Bulgari –they would be connected by emerald and diamond pieces, a private entrance in the back of the shop for her and Richard Burton to sneak in and dodge the paparazzi, and a room in Rome’s Via Condotti store named after Taylor.
Emulating the style of the famous screen actresses has always been an American pastime, but none has been written about or more widely talked about than the legendary jewelry collector Elizabeth Taylor. While on location in Italy in 1962 she stated that ‘undeniably one of the biggest advantages to filming Cleopatra in Rome was Bulgari’s shop.’ It was at this time that Taylor and her then-married co-star, Richard Burton started their love affair. Burton was quick to pick up on the way to Taylor’s heart, and quipped: ‘The only Italian Elizabeth knows is Bulgari.’ The room where Burton and Taylor used to choose the jewels in the Condotti store has been refurbished by architect Peter Marino, but is still dubbed the ‘salotto Taylor’. Taylor recalls in her book My Love Affair with Jewelry that Burton wanted to buy her a gift and they headed over to Bulgari. She chose a step-cut Colombian emerald of 23.44 carats, created by Bulgari in 1958 as a brooch. Burton purchased it for her as a gift and the actress wore it on their wedding day in March 1964.

Soon after, she received the emerald necklace to which the brooch could be attached, which was mounted with sixteen step-cut octagonal emeralds of an estimated total of 60.50 carats, each surrounded by brilliant-cut and pear-shaped diamonds. She also acquired a remarkable pair of diamond and emerald pear-shaped pendant earrings and an emerald and marquise-shaped diamond ‘zigzag’ bracelet. She was then given an emerald ring set in platinum with a step-cut octagonal emerald of 7.40 carats surrounded with pear-shaped diamonds to complete this parure. She would continue to wear pieces from her emerald collection for the rest of her life and particularly at some of the most important milestones. She also owned en Tremblant diamond flower-head brooch. The flower spray, mounted on spring settings and shimmering and flickering with every movement, was worn by Taylor in her hair with the earrings and the emerald step-cut brooch in the film The V.I.P.S with Richard Burton.

Elizabeth Taylor - The Vips 1963

Socialite Daisy Fellowes has quite the reputation—an insatiable appetite for jewelry, fashion, men and indulging in drugs and drinking. The heiress to the Singer Sewing Machine fortune, she was reported to be one of the best-dressed women of her time and was the Paris editor of American Harper's Bazaar when she wasn’t shopping the houses of Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels to name just a few of her favorites. Fellowes was a connoisseur and collector with an impeccable eye for jewelry and a whimsical and tongue-in-cheek approach to fashion. Schiaparelli invented ‘shocking pink’ for her and she wore the color with nonchalance as she did a surrealistic hat shaped like a high heel shoe. When it came to her jewelry, she was more serious. She had quite a few showstoppers in her collection but one was definitely Van Cleef & Arpels’ Indian-inspired platinum, diamond and emerald bead manchette flexible cuff bracelets, designed for her in 1928. They were set with a geometric pattern of six step-cut diamonds within a surround of circular-cut, step-cut and baguette stones. The piece was part of a set of two cuff bracelets that could be joined together to wear as a magnificent choker.



In addition to her engagement ring and a beautiful emerald suite by Cartier, it was the emerald necklace that the Windsors purchased from Harry Winston in 1956 that caused quite a stir while at a ball in Paris the following year. It was attended by the Maharani of Baroda, all eyes were on The Duchess’s stunning new necklace. The Maharani Sita Devi agreed that it was beautiful: “After all, those emeralds used to be one of my anklets.” To say The Duchess was shocked that Harry Winston had created a necklace for her from a pair of anklets that he had bought from the Maharajah of Baroda would be an understatement. She exchanged the piece for another jewel and came to an agreement with Winston. The house could not sell the necklace to anyone who might have known about The Duchess’s brief ownership of it. All was well again in the sparkling land of Windsors and Winston, and The Duchess went on to purchase more jewelry from the renowned house.

Marlene Dietrich whose favorite gems were noted to be emeralds and created by some of her favorite houses at the time, Paul Flato and Trabert &Hoeffer-Mauboussin were also the pieces she wore in press photos and films such as Desire, she had two bracelets that she would wear on one wrist with huge cabochon emeralds that even in black and white films enticed women to purchase large cabochon pieces. One of my favorite stories about Dietrich’s emeralds involved a ring: During a dinner party held by Katherine Cornell, a story circulated that Dietrich took off her 37.41-carat cabochon emerald ring, while she was helping bake a cake in the kitchen, and then realized that it was gone. The other guests helped her look for the ring, turning the dinner party into a treasure hunt. It was only during dessert that the ring was discovered by one of the other guests—inside a piece of the cake!



In 2009, Angelina Jolie created an Oscar moment that lives on in our collective memories when she wore a pair of 115-carat Lorraine Schwartz's emerald pendant earrings, which once again brought the green gem back into the spotlight and also created a trend in earrings, pendant drops and pear-shaped gems that continue to inspire established and independent designer’s collections today.

Angelina Jolie created an emerald moment on the red carpet that continues to inspire these 115 carat emerald earrings by jeweler to the stars Lorraine Schwartz