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Jewels with passion

By Ricky Toledo and Chito Vijandre, The Philippine STAR Published Feb 09, 2022 5:00 am

There’s nothing like an exceptional, carefully chosen gem to express the most profound feelings. Many of the most extraordinary pieces of jewelry are linked to the greatest romantic affairs involving, no doubt, history’s most intriguing characters. Not all have happy endings but the jewels remain as testaments to intense moments of burning desire when it seemed love was all that mattered.

King Henry VIII and Ann Boleyn

King Henry VIII had six marriages, but his second to Ann Boleyn is probably the most sensational because he had to have his first to Catherine of Aragon annulled, leading to the eventual separation of the Church of England from papal authority.

Anne Boleyn in a 16th-century portrait at National Portrait Gallery in London

He lavished Ann with jewelry, even taking pieces from Catherine to woo her. Ann was initially reluctant since her sister, Mary, had been one of Henry’s many mistresses. But the Lothario had romantic flair, sending her a letter together with a gold bracelet that had his portrait. She eventually agreed to marry him secretly in 1532 but what made her so attractive as a lover made her too independent for the ceremonial role of a wife.

Their relationship turned sour, charges were made up, accusing Ann of treasonous adultery and incest with her brother, George. The marriage was annulled and she was executed two days later.

The king had all her portraits destroyed, although one survived where she wears a “B” necklace and, although the jewel was never found again, it is said that the pearls were set among the stones of the Imperial State Crown, which was used for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. It seems, then, that despite all his efforts, Henry could not completely erase her from history.

Wallis Simpson and The Duke of Windsor

The Duke of Windsor with Wallis Simpson wearing the Cartier Draperie necklace of amethyst, turquoise and diamonds at the Gala L’Orangerie Ball in Versailles in 1953.

What could be more romantic than a king ceding his throne for the woman he loves? Edward VII of England, wrestling with the decision to marry Wallis Simpson, the American divorcée, marked this difficult period by presenting her with a Van Cleef & Arpels Burmese ruby and diamond bracelet, engraved with “Hold on Tight 27.III.36,” a motto they would return to again and again during their courtship.

The Jarretière bracelet by Van Cleef & Arpels

The Cravate necklace of rubies and diamonds by Van Cleef & Arpels, commissioned by the Duke of Windsor for the Duchess’ 40th birthday in 1936.

Edward spent hours with jewelry houses to develop and customize pieces for Wallis. For their wedding in 1937, she wore a Cartier cross bracelet and Van Cleef’s celebrated Jarretière bracelet, a sparkly play on a bride’s garter.

With a cluster of cushion-shaped sapphires at the domed center and at the ruffled edge of the diamond bracelet, it was a very meaningful wedding present inscribed with “For our Contract 18-V-37” representing the date of their civil wedding ceremony, the last obstacle to their final meeting at the altar.

Maharajah Jagatjit Singh of Kapurthala and Anita Delgado

Anita Delgado

Little did the Maharajah of Kapurthala know that when he attended a royal wedding in Spain he would fall in love with Anita Delgado, a stage dancer born in Malaga to a family of modest means.

Protective of their daughter at first, Anita’s parents eventually allowed her to meet the prince, who proposed instantly and whisked her away to Paris where she was groomed to become a true Maharani.

The emerald-and-diamond brooch gift of the Maharajah of Kapurthala

As a reward for learning Urdu, the prince presented her with an extraordinary crescent emerald and diamond brooch, which she would wear on her forehead in formal portraits.

Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier

“A woman needs ropes and ropes of pearls,” Grace Kelly was quoted when she was an actress in Hollywood, where she would wear the marine gem both on and off screen.

Grace Kelly wearing her Van Cleef & Arpels pearls

Prince Rainier of Monaco, who was smitten with her, apparently did not get the memo and proposed with a diamond and ruby eternity band in 1956. He realized his mistake and so, to make amends, he took her to Van Cleef & Arpels in New York for her wedding present: a triple-strand pearl necklace with diamond swirl, a triple-strand pearl bracelet with diamond blossom, pearl and diamond earrings, and a blossom ring with pearl center.

Princess Grace would wear this suite often for many years after their marriage and after her death in 1982, their daughter, Princess Caroline of Hanover, would wear them for the 2019 Rose Ball in Monaco, thrilling royal jewelry watchers all over the world.

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor on their wedding day in 1964

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton had the most tempestuous relationship built on irresistible chemistry, passionate lovemaking and vicious fights — with the most magnificent jewels to mark every breakup and makeup, two marriages and two divorces.

Elizabeth Taylor wearing the Taylor-Burton diamond necklace and the Krupp diamond ring

In 1968, while filming in Rome with Sophia Loren, whom he flirted with among many other women, they had a serious fight, prompting Taylor to leave for America. He followed soon after, presenting her with a fabulous diamond choker with a heart-shaped pendant as an apology.

The La Peregrina pearl necklace 

Burton once said “I love Elizabeth to the point of idolatry,” and he would indeed offer the rarest jewels at her feet: The 69-carat Taylor-Burton flawless diamond cut by Harry Winston in 1966 and fashioned into a necklace; the 50-carat La Peregrina pearl, one of the most symmetrical natural pearls ever discovered, with a long line of royal owners from the 16th century onwards, reset by Cartier in 1969; and the 33-karat Krupp diamond, originating from the Golconda region with its exceptional optical transparency.

Elton John and David Furnish

Elton John and David Furnish

What to give your husband when you’re about to leave him all alone at home while you embark on a concert tour that will last for three years? For Elton John, it had to be a really special piece: a diamond-and-sapphire-encrusted Rolex watch that David Furnish could enjoy while going solo flight.

The Rolex GMT-Master II encrusted with diamonds and sapphires

Presented during their family holiday on Portofino in 2018, the timepiece, a GMT-Master II, was a romantic keepsake in memory of the happy times shared during that vacation, as well as a reminder of Elton’s commitment and devotion to the love of his life.