06 January 2016

Princess Grace's Jewels

The Telegraph published an article this week on the jewels of Grace Kelly (aka Princess Grace of Monaco), focusing on the pieces she wore during her engagement and marriage to Prince Rainier. The article highlights jewelry made by two of Grace's favorite jewelry firms: Cartier and Van Cleef and Arpels.

Rainier actually purchased two engagement rings from Cartier for Grace. The first was an eternity-style band of alternating diamonds and rubies, mimicking the red and white colors of the Monegasque flag. But the trend for bigger and bigger diamonds in Hollywood convinced Rainier to upgrade to an enormous emerald-cut diamond weighing more than ten carats.

Along with the two rings, Rainier purchased one more Cartier piece as an engagement present for Grace: a three-stranded diamond necklace. The Telegraph states that the necklace's diamonds total 58 carats; I've seen other sources estimate 64.

The article also notes that this necklace was a piece that "the actress-turned-princess wore on her wedding day." To be more specific, Grace wore the necklace on April 18, 1956, the night before the religious ceremony, following a daytime civil wedding at the Palais Princier. A gala was held at the opera house in Monte Carlo that evening, and Grace wore the Cartier necklace with another new Cartier jewel: the diamond and ruby Bains de Mer Tiara. Footage of Grace and Rainier arriving at the opera house can be seen at the beginning of the newsreel footage above.

Rainier didn't stop his bejeweled gift-giving with engagement presents. As a wedding gift, he presented Grace with a set of Van Cleef and Arpels pearl and diamond jewelry. The suite includes a necklace, a bracelet, a pair of earrings, and a ring.

You can see Grace wearing the pearls above in a photograph from a 1960s-era charity function in Paris.

The Telegraph article mentions one more of Grace's jewels: the Van Cleef and Arpels tiara that she wore at the ball held before Princess Caroline's 1978 wedding to Philippe Junot. I'm a little puzzled by the way the article describes the piece: "In 1976 she commissioned Van Cleef and Arpels to design a decadent diamond tiara composed of 140 stones and weighing 77.34 carats. The Princess wore the tiara only once, however, to attend a ball thrown in celebration of her daughter Princess Caroline of Monaco’s engagement."

I've never heard the claim before that Grace commissioned the tiara. Van Cleef and Arpels owns the tiara to this day, and the firm has even loaned it to film productions in the years since Grace wore it. The Van Cleef and Arpels website explains, "In 1978, Van Cleef and Arpels once again took part in a royal marriage in Monaco. At the Ball held after the wedding of her daughter Caroline to Philippe Junot, H.S.H. Princess Grace of Monaco wore a diadem in platinum set with round, marquise and pear-shaped diamonds, weighing 77.34 carats. Originally a necklace, this tiara was transformed for this occasion."

I'm not sure I believe that Grace commissioned the tiara; however, I think it's possible that she may have gone to Van Cleef to discuss borrowing a jewel for the ball, and that she may have asked them to set an existing necklace on a tiara frame. Grace had definitely borrowed jewels from the firm before, including the ruby and gold tiara that she wore in the photograph above. What do the rest of you think?