We all like to lust over the grand and illustrious gems of celebrities, but the real lookers may be well before your time. Rare, regal, and over-the top designs are rich, not only in value, but also in tales and traditions. These old and famous gemstones and breathtaking pieces of historical jewelry are bound to increase your envy to dangerously high levels!
The Hope Diamond is easily the most famous diamond in the world, coming in at 45.52 carats with a very rare steel blue hue. Besides its uncommon weight and color, the diamond is also known for its lore, believing to have cursed all of its previous owners. The jewel got its start in 1668 with King Louis XIV of France but received its name from its 1839 owner, Henry Philip Hope. Then, in 1958, Harry Winston donated it to the Smithsonian Institute in an unexpected way. He sent it via snail mail in an ordinary brown paper-wrapped box. Keep in mind, the Hope Diamond is valued at $200-$250 million! But the risk was worth it, as now the gem can be enjoyed by all.
Anyone who has ever seen the blockbuster film Titanic (1997) will immediately recognize "The Heart of the Ocean." The look and lore of this fictitious gemstone is actually inspired by the real Hope Diamond and was even set in a similar necklace design. Because of the film's success and the jewel's popularity, jewelers Asprey & Garrard crafted a necklace with a 170.00 carat heart-shaped sapphire and 30.00 ct. t.w. of diamonds. The necklace was worn by Celine Dion during her 1998 Oscar performance of "My Heart Will Go On" and later auctioned off for $2.2 million.
In 1853, Empress Eugenie de Montijo married Louis Napoleon and quickly became known as one of the most beautiful and stylish women in Europe. Her famous diamond bow brooch (later sold to the Louvre for $11 million) was crafted in 1855 by the Parisian jeweler Francois Kramer. The antique was originally meant to be a buckle for a diamond belt, but Eugenie requested that it be further embellished and made into a pin.
La Peregrina, Spanish for "wanderer," was named to allude to its frequent travels across the world. In the mid-16th century, a Spanish-owned slave first discovered the duck egg-sized, pear-shaped pearl off the coast of Panama and was awarded his freedom because of it. It then bounced between Spanish, English, and French nobility until it found its way to Hollywood in 1969. Richard Burton purchased the pearl, which was set in a pendant necklace, for $37,000. The piece was elaborately redesigned with the assistance of Cartier, and given to Elizabeth Taylor. This spectacular pearl, diamond, and ruby necklace was last purchased at auction for $11,842,500!
Nina Dyer, a model born in 1930 to rich British parents, had a lavish obsession: she loved everything about wild and majestic panthers. And with marriages to more than one wealthy man, she was able to fund her eccentric passion. She had two Black Panther pets, panther skin clothing, and yes, panther jewelry! In fact, she became quite famous for her astonishing collection of diamond and gemstone panther pieces from Cartier. Now that's a signature style!
Queen Mary (Mary of Teck) will forever be known for her "Diamond Riviere," or "River of Diamonds." This exquisite necklace features thirty-four old-cut diamonds set in gold and silver and dates back to 1900. The queen gave the necklace to her granddaughter, Princess Margaret, but it was later auctioned off at $1,828,224.