Nothing beats the glamour of Old Hollywood: Audrey Hepburn, Barbra Streisand, Marilyn Monroe. The outfits in these movies would shape future costume designs and fashion trends to come.
While jewelers now pay actors to wear their designs on the red carpet, In Hollywood’s golden days, actresses paid for their own specially-designed jewelry or borrowed pieces that caught their eye. The pieces actresses chose spanned from a 500-year-old royal necklace to a chain that could be taken apart and repurposed into bracelets and tiaras. Here are some of the most glamorous, breathtaking, fabulous jewels worn by classic Hollywood actresses.
Marilyn Monroe Wears The Oldest Piece Of Jewelry In A Movie
It’s no secret that Marilyn Monroe’s wardrobe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes sparked the diamond craze in the ’50s. Along with introducing the phrase “diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” Monroe brought out one of the oldest Hollywood jewels in this movie.
The Moon of Baroda is Monroe’s pear-shaped, yellow diamond necklace. The Maharajah of Baroda, India owned the piece for over 500 years. In the 18th century, Empress Maria Theresa of Austria wore it, as did Marie Antoinette. In 1943, Meyer Rosenbaum purchased it and lent it to Monroe for the movie.
Paulette Goddard’s Floral Ear Clips and Bracelet
Paulette Goddard’s jewelry collection steadily grew through her relationships with composer George Gershwin and actor/director Charlie Chaplin. Although she sported many notable gems, one of her most unique was an emerald-and-diamond cuff and earrings set.
Both the cuff and the earrings feature flower-shaped diamonds with green jellybean-shaped emeralds. Crafted by Trabert & Hoeffer-Mauboussin, this set includes 18k of diamonds. Goddard wore these gems in the 1939 film The Women.
Elizabeth Taylor’s 1957 Oscar Tiara
While Elizabeth Taylor donned several fabulous pieces over the years, nothing beats the tiara she wore to the 1957 Academy Awards. Her third husband, Mike Todd, gave her the 70-year-old hairpiece. It was forged out of mine-cut diamonds mounted in platinum and gold.
Todd won Best Picture for his film Around the World in 80 Days during this event. When he gave Taylor the tiara, he reportedly said, “You’re my queen, and I think you should have a tiara.”
Claudette Colbert’s Shapeshifting Necklace
In the 1935 movie The Gilded Lily, Claudette Colbert looked like she was dripping in jewels in ever seen. But her many gems and outfits were just one necklace. The jewelry, which was designed by Trabert & Hoeffer, contained interchangeable parts that could be repurposed into a brooch, bracelet, and even a tiara.
The necklace’s centerpiece was an 83-carat ruby called the Star of Burma. It also doubled as a giant cocktail ring.
Barbra Streisand’s Edwardian Linear Earrings
Barbra Streisand adored buying her own early 1900s jewelry. When she was cast in Funny Girl, she already had all the signature pieces she needed. Specifically, Streisand donned Edwardian earrings that hung low and ended in a diamond or pearl.
In Funny Lady, Streisand continued to wear this style of earring with more elegant diamond clips. Streisand seemed to favor these earrings, especially when she wore her hair up.
Merle Oberon in Cartier’s Most Photographed Necklace Ever
After India-born actress Merle Oberon married director Alexander Korda, she received a lot of exceptional jewelry. One of them was an emerald and diamond necklace that Napoleon once gave to the Third Baroness Haussmann. Another was Cartier’s most-photographed creation: a string of Baroque emeralds shaped like tears.
The necklace incorporates 29 emeralds strung together with platinum and fastened with diamonds. Oberon adorned this necklace until she died in 1979.
Gloria Swanson’s Cartier Bracelets
Among Gloria Swanson’s extensive accessory collection, she seemed to love her Cartier bracelets the most. Swanson bought these two bracelets in 1930 and wore them in at least two films: Perfect Understanding in 1932 and Sunset Boulevard in 1950.
Cartier molded the jewels out of platinum, diamond, and rock crystal, making the gems more affordable during the Great Depression. However, it seemed that Swanson never cared about the cost. In 1924 alone, she spent $500,000 renting jewelry, a $5 million equivalent today.
Mary Pickford’s Star of Bombay
The “Queen of Hollywood,” Mary Pickford, was Hollywood’s first millionaire actress. Despite that, she didn’t buy her most expensive piece of jewelry; her husband Douglas Fairbanks did. He bought her the “Star of Bombay,” a stunning blue sapphire set into a platinum ring.
This 182-carat sapphire came from Sri Lanka, India, and was incorporated into a ring by Trabert & Hoeffer. Pickford frequently donned the ring until the couple’s divorce in 1935, when she donated the gem to the Smithsonian Institute.
Hedy Lamar’s Golden-Emerald Necklace in Lady of the Tropics
European actress Hedy Lamarr was most well-known for her controversial nude posing in the 1933 film Ecstasy. Beyond that, Lamarr was known for her elegant pearl drop jewelry that she wore in her roles as a mysterious, desirable woman.
One of her most memorable necklaces appeared in Lady of the Tropics in 1939. Eugene Joseff made this quadruple-layered necklace with metal, glass, and faux pearls. It kicked off the flower-shaped necklace trends in years to come.
Doris Day’s Turquoise Jewelry in Pillow Talk
Fashionistas understand that Pillow Talk featured some of the most glamorous wardrobe choices of all time. Jean Louis designed Doris Day’s wardrobe in the film, including picking her turquoise-dipped gems that became all the rage in the 1960s.
Day’s most noticeable accessories were her diamond-and-turquoise necklace and earrings that she wore while dining with Rock Hudson. Her light hair and matching blue dress accented the jewelry perfectly.
Vivian Leigh’s Brooches in Gone With The Wind
Although Gone with the Wind may not be the first movie people think of when they hear “jewelry,” the O’Hara family wears some glamorous pieces throughout the film. Most of the broaches, ruby, and emerald pieces that Vivien Leigh wore were designed by the famous movie jewelry designer Eugene Joseff.
Of all of Scarlett O’Hara’s jewelry, her fabulous brooches are the most recognizable. Gone with the Wind‘s gems are now displayed at Julien’s Auctions in Los Angeles.
Audrey Hepburn’s Statement Necklace in Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Of all the necklaces in Old Hollywood, one of the most iconic was Audrey Hepburn’s diamond and pearl statement necklace in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Her outfit — a simple black dress with black gloves, combined with the statement necklace–has been copied many times via Amazon and Etsy sellers.
The necklace was designed by Roger Scemama, the French jewelry designer who went on to establish houses such as Givenchy and Dior. He created many of Hepburn’s statement necklaces worn throughout the movie.
Grace Kelly’s Diamond Necklace in To Catch A Thief
Before Grace Kelly became a princess of Monaco, she wore several diamond pieces in Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief. Since De Beers sponsored the film, the movie featured many of their ornate pieces.
On the set, Hitchcock gave Kelly more agency to choose her outfits than most of his other actresses. Throughout the movie, Kelly and her costume designer, Edith Head, picked out breathtaking pieces. One of her most notable was the diamond necklace she wore with a white chiffon dress.
Loretta Young’s Academy Awards Necklace
In 1948, Loretta Young attended the Academy Awards where she won Best Actress for her role in The Farmer’s Daughter. There, she wore a unique white gold and diamond necklace that still looks fashionable 70 years later.
The necklace’s spherical gems swung with Young’s every move. Like many Hollywood gems, this necklace was designed by Eugene Joseff and came with a matching brooch. Both were recently auctioned on Julien’s Auctions and sold for $3,840.
Sophia Loren’s Extensive Pearl Necklace Collection
In the 1950s, Sophia Loren ascended from a life of poverty to the lavish life of a famous actress. Nothing seemed to dazzle her more than white diamonds and pearls. She often wore incredible earrings and necklaces during her movies awards shows.
Some of her most famous photos feature Loren shopping for jewelry at the Cartier jewelry store in Paris, 1956. She explores white pearl necklaces and a 200-grain pearl ring. Ironically, she did not buy anything there.
Anita Ekberg Eating Her Diamonds Like Grapes
Anita Ekberg, the Swedish actress who starred in 1950s movies such as The Mississippi Gambler and The Golden Blade, loved diamonds. Matching diamond necklaces, earrings, and bracelets were all the rage with ’50s Hollywood actresses. So it’s no wonder that Ekbert adored companies like Cartier.
One of her most iconic photos features Ekberg mimicking the pose of eating grapes with her diamond Cartier necklace. Of course, she wears a matching bracelet and earrings to accompany the chain.
Susan Hayward’s Emerald Star Brooch
Throughout her 35-year career, Susan Hayward collected plenty of expensive jewelry. While most adhered to the fashion trends of the ’50s and ’60s, her diamond and emerald star brooch was a singularity. Today, it is estimated to be worth around $8,000 to $10,000.
Hayward wore this brooch in movies such as Ada (1961) and Valley of the Dolls (1967). Kathleen Lynagh Jewelry crafted the gem and several others similar to it.
Mae West’s Art Deco Bracelets
When she hit the big screen in the 1930s, Mae West brought over the 1920s style of stacked silver bracelets. In particular, she loved to pile on her Belle Époque Art Deco diamond bracelets in both movies and award shows.
In the late 1940s, West donated much of her jewelry towards the war effort. One gem that she didn’t give away was a 40-carat diamond bracelet from the 1920s. She also wore it in the 1933 movie She Done Him Wrong.
Myrna Loy’s Sapphire Ring
In 1934, Myrna Loy starred in The Thin Man, which became one of the year’s biggest hits. The movie and its sequel, After the Thin Man (1936), portrayed Loy’s fabulous taste in jewelry. Her most eye-catching accessory was her blue sapphire ring on platinum mounting with a diamond-studded border.
The ring’s most recent owner, Hollywood jewel collector Neil Lane, said that the ring was designed for her by Paul Flato. “This particular Art Deco style is truly reflective of the golden age of Hollywood,” he explained.
The Stunning Golden Bracelet In Cleopatra
At the time of its release in 1963, Cleopatra was the most expensive movie ever made. Although it almost bankrupted 20th Century Fox, it set a new standard for future movies, especially concerning jewelry. Along with her hair ornaments, Elizabeth Taylor’s most famous Cleopatra jewel was her golden cuff bracelet.
In 2017, Joseff of Hollywood put the bracelet up for sale at Julien’s Auctions. It sold for around $7,000.