A true Hollywood Gem
It was in all of the Hollywood newspapers - large glamorous gems owned by Hollywood stars. With so many articles written about this amazing gem, we were convinced that Carole Lombard commissioned the design and owned the brooch.
Who made or where it is now is a still a mystery. Larry McQueen, owner of The Collection of Motion Picture Costume Design recounts his research on the famous jewel:
The History of Carole Lombard's Star Sapphire Brooch
In the late 1930’s, Carole Lombard was an extremely intelligent actor who knew how to balance sophistication with a ditzy lovability. In 1936, Lombard received her only Oscar nomination for Best Actress for “My Man Godfrey,” playing the part of the hilarious, zany and uninhibited heiress, Irene Bullock.
In 1931, she had been married to William Powell for only 26 months, but they remained friends for the rest of her life and would later co-star in “My Man Godfrey.” It was during this relationship that she might have developed her taste sapphires, which happened to be her birthstone. It was reported by the Salt Lake Tribune on March 22, 1936:
“Star sapphires and Carole Lombard’s blonde beauty are intimately associated in the minds of her fans. She has a complete set of jewelry encrusted with the cerulean gems- purchased as an investment, with adornment a secondary factor- that she wears both on and off the screen…”
Other notable actress also had a passion for sapphires, namely Joan Crawford, Mae West and later Jean Harlow, who would also later marry William Powell, and there seemed to emerge a competition as to who would own the largest sapphire. It was reported by the King Features Syndicate on September 6, 1935:
“HOLLYWOOD …One of the biggest star sapphires seen around these parts in years, 150 carats, has just been purchased by Carole Lombard, who rivals Joan Crawford in the worship of these stones.
Carole already owned a massive sapphire in a ring Bill Powell gave her. The new stone will be mounted for a triple use a ring, brooch and pendant. Carole’s love of the color blue, incidentally, extends further than jewelry. As a nice gesture, Paramount is even using a blue motif for the sets in her new picture, “Hands Across the Table.”
In the 1936 film My Man Godfrey, Carole Lombard’s character of Irene wears in the opening scenes in the film, a full length evening gown with duster which was solidly beaded with white/ silver bugle beads. At the neckline, it is ornamented by her new star sapphire brooch set with diamonds. Even though the studios often furnished jewelry for the stars to wear in their production, the stars sometimes opted to wear their own jewelry, as with the case of the star sapphire brooch. The brooch was worn in numerous publicity photos and is reported as having been worn on multiple personal appearances.
On November 18, 1935, the Milwaukee Sentinel reported:
FASHION HINT: Gray chiffon – pleated here – with fullness there. Like a fascinating mist this charming gown proves a most charming foil for Carole Lombard’s blondness during formal evening hours. The gown is extremely high in the front and dissolves into a low décolletage in back. The only adornment is a massive brooch of star satire surrounded with diamonds.”
But, by the end of 1936, reports started to appear in newspapers and continued for several years, that Carol Lombard was thinking of selling her star sapphire collection. On January 8, 1937, The Ogden Standard Examiner reported:
…”Jean Harlow’s plenty proud of her Christmas gift from Bill Powell. It’s a star sapphire – the largest the town’s ever seen. And next day Carole Lombard also the ex- Mrs. Powell – who heretofore has always worn the one Mr. Powell gave her – announced hers was for sale.”