Star Power: The Most Talked-About Celebrity Jewels in History

If you follow the history of elite high jewellery, you won’t be surprised to discover how frequently the fates of many pieces are intertwined with the lives of the world’s most beautiful women. Like magnets, such jewellery seems drawn to these high-status women, as if by being paired together they can augment and enhance each other’s respective beauty. However, there are some jewels that manage to exceed the fame of those they have adorned. For this article, I have collated five of the most stunning precious stones from recent decades and – just like one might a celebrity – I am dedicating some column inches to their beauty and uniqueness.

Lady Gaga in the Tiffany Diamond 

The outrageous American diva Stephanie Joanne Angelina Germanotta, better known to all of us by her artistic moniker, Lady Gaga, can make attention-grabbing appearances at both grand social events and in her day-to-day life. Every detail of her highly expressive look is carefully considered and always works in service of a grander concept, which Gaga presents as a kind of performance art. At the 2019 Oscars, Gaga appeared in a stunning Tiffany & Co. necklace set with the fancy yellow ‘Tiffany Diamond’ weighing 128.54 carats. This caused such a clamour in the press one could say the jewel managed to eclipse the singer on her Academy Award-winning night! An off-the-shoulder black dress combined with high gloves worked to accentuate the diva's neckline, giving prominence to a truly unique stone with a rich history. The very same evening, tabloids were awash with photographs of the star on the red carpet from a myriad of angles. It should be noted that Audrey Hepburn once made an appearance wearing a necklace with this very same stone - albeit in a slightly different setting - as part of a campaign to promote the legendary film ‘Breakfast at Tiffany's’.

Kate Middleton's Engagement Ring

On the morning of November 16, 2010, a historic event took place in every sense of the word: Kate Middleton and the eldest son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana - Prince William - officially announced their engagement. Kate appeared in front of the cameras in a dark blue dress that managed to beautifully emphasize her engagement ring, set with a stone of almost exactly the same hue. Photos of Princess Diana's white gold ring, with its famous 12-carat oval sapphire, surrounded by 14 colourless diamonds, were once more emblazoned across the national press. In 2020, The Sun newspaper surveyed 2,000 people looking for “the world's most popular engagement ring”. The Duchess of Cambridge’s engagement ring claimed victory in a landslide, leaving behind its rivals adorned with more classic colourless diamonds. At that time, I was still living in London and working in a jewellery boutique. I remember the sudden, soaring popularity of sapphires was corroborated by jewellers specializing in the creation of bespoke engagement rings: a ring "like Kate’s" has become a dream for many brides-to-be not only in Britain, but internationally.

The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor

In 2020, the book ‘My Love Affair with Jewellery’ was published, which the so called ‘Queen of Hollywood’ dedicated to her personal collection. Elizabeth Taylor was a passionate lover of jewellery and has amassed a huge collection of truly opulent pieces. Most of these pieces were gifted by husbands, friends or fans. Elizabeth had other passions, most notably for colourless diamonds of vast scale and for jewellery by the Italian brand Bulgari. All in all, her jewellery collection consisted of an astonishing 269 precious pieces. You can imagine, readers, the kind of sensation this stirred at auction! The 33.19-carat Krupa diamond, the 55.95-carat flawless La Pelegrina pearl, the 69.42-carat Cartier-Taylor-Barton diamond, The Grand Duchess Vladimir Suite parure adorned with no fewer than 150 carats of emeralds, and even a real diamond tiara, are just a few examples of what a sale attendee would have seen. The total from all the lots sold at Christie’s in 2011 were - wait for it - $116 million! I will also take this as an opportunity to recommend the 2012 documentary ‘Elizabeth Taylor: Auction of a Lifetime’.

Kim Kardashian's Stolen Engagement Ring

“Kim Kardashian West—Robbed in Paris Hotel Room”. Such headlines could be seen across the world’s newspapers in 2016. Frankly, at first few people believed the story. The A-Lister managed to become famous both through her participation in reality shows and numerous scandals that increased her popularity. This shocking event would ultimately acquire the ‘official’ status of being the largest robbery in France in the 21st century. A total of $10.8 million in goods was stolen. Staring down the barrel of a loaded gun, Kim gave away all her jewellery, including a wedding ring with a 20-carat diamond gifted to her by her ex-husband Kanye West, which was worth more than $4 million. All the attackers were soon detained, but the jewellery had already been sold. The star was not physically harmed at the scene of the crime, although she was later hospitalized having suffered from a nervous episode. She made the event the main theme of the thirteenth series of her famous reality show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians. One of the robbers, 67-year-old Eunice Abbas, after spending 22 months behind bars, published a book entitled I Kidnapped Kim Kardashian. I suppose if you can’t beat them, join them!

Michelle Yeoh’s Extraordinary Emerald

Rachel Chu - an American with Chinese heritage - travels with her boyfriend to Singapore for his best friend's wedding. Here she learns that her companion comes from an insanely wealthy family, and all the local women are desperate to be his bride. This is how the last decade’s highest-grossing romantic comedy, Crazy Rich Asians (2018),  begins. The film stars Michelle Yeoh, one of the highest paid actresses in the world and the highest paid actress in all of Asia. As you may have noticed, superlatives can be found almost everywhere in her biography. Here are just a few more examples: the former Miss Malaysia was chosen by the magazine People magazine as one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world; she is the only woman Jackie Chan allowed to do her own stunts; and she’s the owner of some unique jewellery. The director of the film, John M. Chu, said that Michelle Yeoh was unhappy with the design of the engagement ring that her character Eleanor was supposed to wear. Instead, she showed Chu a ring with an emerald and diamonds from her own personal collection. In the end, the ring was in effect a co-star. At first, no one knew about this piece of movie trivia. Imagine everyone’s surprise when Michelle wore it on the red carpet at the 2019 Golden Globes.

Time passes inexorably, epochs come and go, but stones are eternal. It's only a shame they can't speak. I have no doubt if they could that their stories would enchant us!

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