Hollywood's Heyday – Estate Jewelry of the Stars

By Cathleen McCarthy

From the earliest days of film, movie stars and fine jewelry have gone together like Hollywood and Vine. During the Golden Age of Cinema, the queens of celluloid bought and wore the freshest jewelry fashions — nouveau and deco, retro, moderne, art, and contemporary. Here’s a look back at the days when stars owned their jewels for a lifetime instead of returning them in the morning.

On Oscar night, all eyes are riveted on beautiful actresses in designer gowns, their jewels glittering in the spotlights. Famous beauties like Demi Moore and Gwyneth Paltrow follow the tradition of stars such as Marlene Dietrich and Jean Harlow, who blinded the cameras with their high-carat flash. The difference is that the stars of a bygone era owned their jewels, they didn’t rent them.

Studios once lavished their stars with jewelry, and many actresses wore their own high-priced baubles in the movies. Magazines like Photoplay chronicled every detail of stars’ private lives, including the jewelry they wore and how much they spent on it. By mid-century, Hollywood was the guiding hand shaping trends in fashion and jewelry.

Marilyn Monroe was bedecked in faux jewelry when she sang “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” in the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, but the benefits for De Beers were genuine.

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