Ruby jewellery has always been sought after by the affluent and influential. Even during the recent history of young nations such as the United States, celebrities and socialites have hunted and collected marvellous pieces of ruby jewellery that shine as brightly as the desire in their hearts. Some of the most fantastic ruby jewels of the last century have forged their renowned reputations as American accessories.
An immensely famous ruby necklace was once owned by Elizabeth Taylor. The necklace features eight blazing red rubies set within a dangling geometric network of round and baguette shaped diamonds, finished with a diamond and ruby clasp. Taylor originally received the necklace as a gift from her third husband, fellow actor Mike Todd, while the two were on holiday in Saint-Jean-Cap Ferrat near Monte Carlo in the spring of 1957. Todd had purchased the jewel from Cartier along with a matching bracelet and pair of earrings. The actor presented all three pieces to Taylor while she was swimming in the pool and their villa; the young actress was so pleased with the gift that she immediately donned the necklace and earrings before then using the pool’s surface as a mirror to admire her new treasures. Part of the exchange was captured by a home video camera and became one of many well known vignettes in which Taylor was seen flaunting some of her numerous beloved gemstones. Taylor wore her ruby suite later that year in July for the British premiere of Around the World in Eighty Days, which had won both the Academy Award and Golden Globe for best picture and featured a performance by Todd. The ruby jewellery dazzled the guests and press at the premiere, including the Duchess of Kent and Princess Alexandra. Following her death, Taylor’s Cartier ruby necklace was auctioned off by Christie's along with many of her other jewels in 2011. The necklace fetched the highest price of all three pieces of Taylor’s ruby and diamond suite, selling for $3,778,500. Certainly an important piece of jewellery history, Elizabeth Taylor’s Cartier ruby necklace may never be forgotten as one of the world’s most stunning ruby necklaces.
One ruby necklace that captured the world’s attention is Queen Amelie’s ruby and diamond necklace. The necklace had originally been owned by Queen Amelie of Portugal, and features a series of hanging ruby and diamond fan motifs suspended from ruby and diamond links. This necklace took the world stage when it was worn by American socialite Barbara Hutton. There were a number of occasions that Hutton was seen wearing the jewel, including some in which the necklace was converted to be worn as a tiara, but the most famous instance was in an image from photographer George Hoyningen-Huene where Hutton paired the necklace with an Indian Sari. The photo was ravingly popular, and Hutton’s beauty was only enhanced by the beauty of the ruby necklace, which then became a cultural talking point for years to come.
The Harry Winston Burmese ruby bracelet that currently sits in the Smithsonian Institution is one of the great ruby bracelets of the world. The platinum bracelet features 60 carats of antique cut oval rubies with 27 carats of marquis shaped diamonds spaced between them. In 1950 Harry Winston Inc. refashioned another piece of jewellery which once held the bracelet’s 31 rubies, and reset them in three rows with 107 diamonds to make the current bracelet. Originally mined in the Mogok mining district of Burma (Myanmar), the bracelet’s rubies display a richly saturated pigeon blood red, the ideal colour for Burmese ruby. An anonymous donor generously passed ownership of the bracelet on to the Smithsonian in 1961 where it has been on display ever since in the National Museum of Natural History as an exemplary piece of ruby jewellery for all to see.
These pieces of ruby jewellery emanate a regal fire as impressive as the jewels of royalty. Read on to learn about the ruby necklaces of British nobles in the next part of this series.
Here are some of our ruby stacker rings from the Skyjems catalog:
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