Red and white are the colors of the principality of Monaco, so it should come as no surprise that one of their most famous residents, Princess Grace, wore a whole lot of jewels set with rubies and diamonds.
The first diamond and ruby jewel that Prince Rainier III gave Grace Kelly was an engagement ring. The simple band of alternating diamonds and rubies was reportedly made by Cartier.
Rainier gave the ring to Grace over the Christmas holidays in 1955, and she wore it when they announced their engagement to the press in early January 1956 (pictured above). Later, Rainier would also give his bride a second engagement gift: an enormous, stunning ring set with a 10.5-carat, emerald-cut diamond, also made by Cartier. She famously wore that second ring during the filming of High Society that spring. Grace would wear both rings throughout her marriage.
When the couple married in April 1956, and Grace Kelly became the Princess of Monaco, her wedding gifts included several prominent pieces of jewelry. Many of these included jewels patriotically set with diamonds and rubies, reflecting the principality’s red and white colors. One of the most recognizable is the Bains de Mer Tiara, a modern ruby and diamond sparkler that can be worn in numerous configurations. Here, Grace wears the tiara (and her diamond festoon necklace) at a gala held the night before the religious royal wedding ceremony in April 1956.
The jewel, as the name suggests, was a gift from the Société des Bains de Mer, one of the most important institutions in the principality. (It owns, among other things, the casino and the Hotel de Paris.) The piece features three modern ornaments (pictured above) set with diamonds and cabochon rubies. They can be set atop the tiara, or worn separately in various ways, including as brooches, hair ornaments, or pendants on a necklace.
And here, in a rare color photo, Grace wears the tiara as she dances with Rainier at the Imperial Ball in New York in December 1958.
During that same trip to New York, Grace wore the necklace setting of the tiara as she and Rainier attended a performance of Flower Drum Song during the opening week of the original Broadway production. The production’s stage director was Grace’s friend, the actor and dancer Gene Kelly.
Grace also often wore the individual elements from the tiara as brooches or clips. Here, she wears a pair of the ornaments as clip brooches on the neckline of her gown at her 40th birthday party in November 1969. (She’s also wearing the diamond earrings that Rainier gave her as a first wedding anniversary present.)
Grace was also originally supposed to receive another grand bejeweled diamond and ruby wedding gift. Monaco’s National Council commissioned a French jeweler to make this diamond and ruby demi-parure for their new princess. The set included a necklace, a bracelet, a set of clip brooches, and a ring. But disagreements over the cost and design of the set tanked the transaction, and the National Council presented Grace with the Diamond Festoon Necklace as a wedding gift instead.
Over the years, other ruby and diamond jewels were added to Grace’s collection. Prince Rainier reportedly purchased these diamond and cabochon ruby frame earrings for her, to go with the Bains de Mer Tiara. Grace wears the earrings here at the Red Cross Ball in the summer of 1980. (Check out all the bejeweled ornaments in her hair, too!)
Here’s another outing for the same diamond and ruby earrings, at a gala event in Paris in 1981. Like the Bains de Mer Tiara, the ruby earrings are still with the family today—Princess Stéphanie notably wore them at the Red Cross Ball in August 2005.
Rainier also reportedly purchased a diamond and ruby ring for his wife to complete the set. You can see the ring sparkling on her left hand in this photograph, also taken at the Paris gala in 1981.
In November 1973, Grace wore another prominent parure of ruby and diamond jewels. The set, probably loaned to her by Van Cleef & Arpels, was worn for a fundraising gala event at the Palace of Versailles.
This color photograph from the Versailles gala shows off the color of the rubies quite nicely. Grace wore several coordinating pieces that evening: a tiara, earrings, necklace, and bracelet.
Here’s another view from the gala that shows off the necklace and bracelet. She also wore a huge gem-encrusted ring on her left hand for the event.
In February 1982, less than a year before her untimely death, Princess Grace made a special appearance in Night of 100 Stars, an all-star variety special taped at Radio City Music Hall in New York. The event, which was televised on ABC, celebrated the centennial of the Actors’ Fund of America. Grace appeared on stage wearing a diamond and ruby necklace and earrings with a white gown.
Here’s another view of the ruby earrings and necklace worn by Grace for the event. (This photo is reversed, but you still get a nice idea of the color and design of the jewels.) I don’t know whether these were part of Grace’s personal collection or a loan from a jeweler, but they were almost certainly some of the last ruby jewels that she wore for a prominent public event.