27 November 2016

The Sunday Ring: The Shirley Temple Blue Diamond Ring

The Shirley Temple Blue Diamond Ring (Photo: Donald Bowers/Getty Images for Sotheby's)

When you're one of the biggest movie stars in the world, and you're not even a teenager yet, you still need major jewels. Little Shirley Temple's jewelry box was already home to today's incredible blue diamond ring before she turned thirteen.

Shirley Temple, ca. 1940 (Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

In 1940, Shirley Temple was a twelve-year-old megastar. She'd just completed The Blue Bird, an 20th Century Fox film made to compete with The Wizard of Oz, which had been released by MGM the previous year. To celebrate the end of filming, Temple's father, George Francis Temple, bought her a remarkable gift: a platinum ring set with a 9.5 carat blue diamond. The brilliant-cut stone is officially classified as a "fancy deep blue" diamond, and in its original 1940 setting, it is flanked by four rows of baguette diamonds. George Temple reportedly paid $7,210 for the ring. (The movie, unfortunately, flopped. But who cares when you've gotten a blue diamond out of it?)

Photo: Donald Bowers/Getty Images for Sotheby's

Temple kept the ring for the rest of her life, even wearing it as she was sworn in as a delegate to the United Nations in 1969. Temple died in 2014, and the ring was purchased privately afterward from her estate. That buyer decided to put the ring up for auction at Sotheby's in March 2016. The lot included an alternate ring setting for the diamond, made by Tiffany in 1972.

Photo: Donald Bowers/Getty Images for Sotheby's

The auction estimate for the ring was set at $25 million - $35 million, but ultimately, the ring failed to sell. At the New York auction, bids opened at $19 million, but they only reached $22 million, several million dollars shy of the ring's reserve price.