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How Marilyn Monroe Made Diamonds Famous

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Few cinematic performances stand the test of time like a pink satin laden Marilyn Monroe singing “Diamonds Are a Girls Best Friend” in Howard Hawks’ Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Monroe’s iconic rendition of the song in the 1953 musical comedy was something of legend, ranked the 12th best film song by the American Film Institute as well as being recreated several times over by some of the top entertainers of the century like Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Normani, Geri Halliwell, and more. The impact of Monroe’s performance as playgirl Lorelei Lee indelibly tied her to diamonds. Ahead of the blonde bombshell’s birthday tomorrow, CR looks at the history of the single rock that forever cemented Monroe’s ultra-glamorous image.

However, the reality of Monroe’s connection to jewelry is far different from the likes of her diamond hungry on-screen counterpart. It’s alleged that the movie star’s personal jewelry collection consisted mostly of costume pieces, aside from a few personal jewels such as her engagement ring and a strand of Mikimoto pearls purchased on her honeymoon in Japan with Yankees slugger Joe DiMaggio.

In an effort to further push the narrative Hollywood had given her of a glitzy jewelry lover, Monroe did rounds of publicity for the Technicolor film where she was photographed wearing real diamonds. But Monroe didn’t fuse her movie star legacy into any old diamond, rather she wore none other than the epic 24.04 carat Moon of Baroda diamond.

The pear shaped, sunshine-colored rock is a historical treasure believed to have originated anywhere between the 15th and 17th centuries, passed down amongst the royals of India’s Gaekwads dynasty. The Moon of Baroda diamond is from the famed Golconda mines in India where some of the largest and finest jewels in history have been produced, including the Regent Diamond and the Hope Diamond which have current estimated values of million and 0 million, respectively.

After being passed through the hands of India’s royalty, it’s said that the Moon of Baroda was given as a gift to Marie Antoinette’s mother, Maria Theresa of Austria. Following her death in 1780, the stone was thought to have been returned to the Gaekwads of India, but a century later in 1860 it was set on a necklace and sold again. It ultimately found its way to the United States where it was confirmed to be owned by Samuel H. Deutsch, the president of a diamond cutters firm based in Cleveland, Ohio, who then sold it to Meyer Rosenbaum, president of Meyer Jewelry Company.

Rosenbaum was the owner who took the Moon of Baroda to Hollywood to help increase the diamond’s star power at the hands of Monroe. Yet following the rounds of publicity, the Moon of Baroda seemed to disappear, being sold in 1990 and subsequently spending around two decades in a private collection. It didn’t resurface until 2018, when the stone was put up for sale again seeking a new owner at Christie’s auction house. The sale included the Moon of Baroda alongside an autographed photo of Monroe when she first bestowed an immeasurable value to the piece. The image pictures her wearing it affixed onto a leather cord hugging her neck and bears an inscription reading, “Thanks for the chance to wear the Moon of Baroda.”

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createdAt:Thu, 28 May 2020 14:38:07 +0000
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