Marilyn Monroe has been gone for nearly sixty years but her presence can still be felt in 2021. She created such a splash it is sometimes hard to remember that she was already gone before I was born and we never lived at the same time. You’d be hard-pressed to name 10 actresses in the last century that made a bigger mark than Marilyn Monroe.
The Gentlemen Prefer Blondes darling knew how to sell a look. She is synonymous with blonde bombshell and old Hollywood glamour. In fact, the musical TV show Smash told the story of a crew of performers and crew that were creating a musical about Marilyn for the Broadway stage. The show within the show was actually called “Bombshell.”
MARILYN’S “MIDAS TOUCH”
Marilyn Monroe was a June baby, her birthday was June 1st. She, her legacy, and her influence are worthy of celebration. People from all over the world clamor for a chance to see her belongings, and auctions that carry items that she is associated with are typically wildly successful. The over the top pieces that were seen in the famous Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend song and dance number were largely costume. That fact did not stop Marilyn Monroe from being eternally associated with diamonds. Very few of the items that are inexorably linked to Marilyn are as coveted as the “Moon of Baroda” necklace.
At the premiere (and promo tour) for, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Marilyn wore a stunning diamond with a fascinating history. The Moon of Baroda is a 24+ ct, fancy yellow, VS2 pear-shaped diamond. It is nothing short of spectacular. It is a neat reminder that natural diamonds are older than we are, and many were mined long before we were a twinkle in our parent’s eyes. This stone in particular has a long history of which hundreds of years have been tracked.
When this diamond was unearthed in the mines of Golconda, it weighed 25.95ct. Once it had been cut into its beautiful pear shape, it was 24.04 ct., which is remarkable in that the cutting techniques of the time could have easily caused a much more substantial loss of weight. The thought is that this stone was mined between the 15th and 17th centuries. The first famous owners of the diamond are believed to be the Gaekwads of Baroda. The Gaekwads were the then rulers of the diamond region in India. Per our reading, the stone then was gifted to Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, the only female monarch of the Habsburg dynasty and the mother of Marie Antoinette. Upon her death, it returned to the Gaekwad family.
In 1860 the fancy yellow pear was fitted into a pendant and remained in India for the next several decades. The next time the stone surfaced in records that we have read about was in the 1940s when it was in the hands of distinguished diamond cutter Samuel H. Deutsch in Cleveland, Ohio, United States. It was ultimately sold to Meyer Rosenbaum, the President of Detroit, Michigan’s Meyer Jewelry Company in 1953. Meyer brilliantly proposed that Marilyn Monroe wear the piece on a leather cord (to feature the diamond) for the promotional material and events for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Marilyn Monroe’s celebrity launched the stone into the eyes and hearts of people all over the world.
ON THE BLOCK
Auctioned in 1990 for $297,000, the diamond was later on display at the ‘Diamond Divas’ exhibition, organized by the Antwerp World Diamond Centre by 2008. In 2012, it was featured on a Japanese appraisal television show. Returning to the auction block in 2018 at the Christie’s Magnificent Jewels Sale in Hong Kong, it was estimated to sell at a price anywhere between $510,300 and $765,450. The diamond ultimately blew the estimates away and sold for 1.3 million dollars. Christie’s also auctioned a picture of Marilyn Monroe wearing her “best friend” (alongside the actual piece) with her autograph and she had also added: “To Meyer Thanks for the chance to wear the Moon of Baroda.” The picture sold on the block for $35,000 on its own. The touch of Marilyn brought out big dollars for these pieces of celebrated jewelry history.
Rumors of a curse are associated with the stone, which is, said to only come to fruition when the stone crosses the water. I don’t know that I believe that, but those kinds of stories are always fascinating.
Marilyn is affecting the jewelry world and fashion culture nearly sixty years after her passing. She is a legend and will continue to be for years and years to come. Celebrating her birthday still seems fitting, Happy Birthday, Ms. Monroe. Thank you for the glamourous legacy.
What is your favorite Marilyn Monroe moment? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!
Written by Kayti Kawachi