Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sapphires Old Hollywood and Now Girls Best Friend

Sapphires Were and Are a Girl's Best Friend

Carole Lombard 8x10" Photo
In the golden age of Hollywood, sapphires were some of the most popular gemstones. They were coveted by the top actresses from the 1910s - the 1940s in particular.

Sapphire is the birthstone for the month of September.

I've found the sapphire listed as modern and/or traditional gemstone associated with different signs of the zodiac, probably most often with the sign of Virgo which is the month of September. 

Also showing the sapphire are the signs of Capricorn, Taurus and Aquarius. You may see other blue stones such as lapis lazuli.

Symbolism, Gemstone meanings
Fidelity and prosperity, energy, wisdom, peace and protection from evil. Those whose favorite color is blue and who wear a lot of blue or complementary colors and those who have blue eyes particularly love sapphires. They're among the Ayurvedic healing gem stones.

The stone may be used as an engagement ring alone or with other gems. Think of how a sapphire means faithfulness and sincerity.

Star Sapphires
Sapphires are from the mineral family Corundum. They can show a phenomenon
Star sapphire cabochon
displaying six-ray asterism
called asterism, or the star effect, rutile needles, referred to as silk. "The star effect can be seen in ruby or any color of sapphire and it arises from white light reflecting from numerous tiny, oriented needle-like inclusions."

-- Gemological Institute of America

You might see other gemstones such as rutilated quartz, which can look like a transparent quartz with darker strands included in it. Choosing something like this is an unusual and attractive one of a kind gem.

We have cats who are Siamese and Tonkinese. They have beautiful blue eyes that remind me of sapphires sometimes. Wonder if my love of this breed of cats influences my love of sapphires? Our Tonkinese has eyes that are more violet and friends want to call her Elizabeth, after Liz Taylor!

The 1920s Hollywood enjoyed the Great Gatsby flapper look, big necklaces, brooches and rings were very much in style. Blue gemstones are some of the most beautiful.

Women were declaring their independence in what they wore and how they behaved. Fans wanted the appearance of their favorite Hollywood actresses with jewelry that was lower cost but had a similar look.

Joan Crawford
8x10" Photo
Stars known to have collections of sapphire jewelry: Joan Crawford, Mae West, Vivien Leigh, Carole Lombard, Claudette Colbert, Mary Pickford and Jean Harlow.

Mae West had a sapphire and diamond brooch worth over $10,000 in the late 1930s.

Who had the biggest sapphire in Hollywood? Newspapers and fan magazines talked of a rivalry among the stars of the early-mid 1930s stars for the largest one. For a while, the papers
Vivien Leigh 8x10 Photo
said it was Mae West with a 150 carat sapphire ring.

Joan Crawford was such a fan of sapphires, and the color blue. Many of her dresses were in shades of blue. The papers started using a phrase, Joan Blue. 

"Sapphire blue, a new color created especially for Joan Crawford was designed to form a perfect background for star sapphire jewellery. Miss Crawford wore a gown of this color and the accompanying jewels to the Hollywood opening of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer production, Romeo and Juliet.
-- Wagga Wagga Daily Advertiser  February 15, 1937 New South Wales, Australia

Wallis Simpson, who married Edward VIII, the Duke of Windsor also had a shade of blue named for her. "Wallis blue is an individual shade between medium and pastel. The bride's deep blue eyes say fashion experts are one of her greatest charms." It is the color she wore on her wedding day in June 1937.

"Myrna Loy's favorite for the races is a new swagger coat dress. The color is the new sapphire blue and again a light-weight woolen is the fabric. ... Miss Loy flaunts a swagger coat of matching woolen and with the same matching silver button trim. Darker blue shoes, hat, gloves and bag result in deflecting masculine stares from the nags to Miss Loy." 

The article also mentions that Maureen O'Sullivan was seen cocktailing at the Beverly Hills Brown Derby with Johnny Farrow. They married later that year and went on to have seven children together.  
-- The Milwaukee Journal, January 28, 1936

I want some red roses for a blue, blue lady
Send them to the sweetest gal in town
And if they do the trick, I'll hurry back to pick
Your best white orchid for her wedding gown
-- excerpt from Red Roses for a Blue Lady

Another actress with a love of the color blue that transcended her love of sapphires was Carole Lombard.

Carole Lombard
Fine Art Paper Print 13x19"

In 1932, Barbara Stanwyck observed that Carole Lombard wore a star sapphire ring "that was the size of a hen's egg."
-- from A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True 1907-1940, By Victoria Wilson 

In 1933, she called the police because a sapphire ring valued at $5,000 was missing. The ring, given to her by then-husband, William Powell, turned up on the grounds of Paramount Studios, so I read.

"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 Lombard already owned a massive sapphire in a ring Bill Powell gave her. 

"The new stone will be mounted for a triple use as ring, brooch and pendant. Carole's love of the color blue incidentally extends further than jewelry. As a nice gesture Paramount is using a blue motif for the sets in her new picture Hands Across the Table."
-- The Reading (PA) Eagle, September 6, 1935 King Features Syndicate  

"Carole never wears more than one ring at a time and often doesn't wear any. Her favorite is a huge star sapphire in a simple setting. I don't blame her. If I had a stone like that it wouldn't have any rivals for my affection either."  
-- "Carole Lombard's Idea Of Beautiful Hands,"  The Milwaukee Journal, December 1, 1935

Engraved Birthstone Necklace - Custom Made with any Names
There are many options for personalized birthstone necklaces
for Mothers, Grandmothers, etc.
Real gemstones, simulated or crystals.
Some you add a gem one at a time.

This is part of a short series.*Updated March 2015

Related Links of Interest:

Gems on The Mohs Scale of Mineral Hardness Diamond, Sapphires, Emeralds, Opals, Amethyst...

Colored Gemstone Sapphire & Emerald Engagement Rings, Princesses Diana and Catherine, Joan Crawford and Elizabeth Taylor, Halle Berry and Penélope Cruz ....

William Powell and Carole Lombard married 1931-1933; their sapphires, My Man Godfrey. Pre-Jean Harlow and Clark Gable

William Powell, Jean Harlow and a Diamond Ring

George Carlin serves blue food on the first Saturday Night Live

Bill Powell, Jean Harlow and a 152-Carat Sapphire Ring: Hollywood's biggest star sapphire 

Blue food dinner party, the joke so nice Alfred Hitchcock played it twice

The psychology of Blue Food, Blue Plates, Weight Loss

The Ring on The Waltons; amethyst part of the Tuesday Flashback Feature

Mae West: It Ain't No Sin by Simon Louvish  

Sources not cited:
The Evening Independent June 3, 1937

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