Memorable and joyous moments

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 April, 2011, 12:00am


Kate Middleton's engagement ring

With millions of copies available online, it's hard to believe that Kate Middleton's engagement ring was once a symbol of the fairy-tale union between Diana, the late Princess of Wales, and Prince Charles. When Charles popped the question to Diana in 1981, he didn't have a ring prepared. Instead, he gave his bride the option to choose her own design. Diana broke with tradition and chose an 18kt, oval-shaped, blue sapphire ring surrounded by a cluster of 14 diamonds from the catalogue of famed British jewellers Garrard. This decision caused much controversy in royal circles because anyone could order the same design direct from the jeweller. Although the ring was said to be left to Prince Harry, after Diana's death, William chose to give it to his fianc?e as a tribute to his mother. It reportedly cost more than US$65,000 when it was purchased, but is now considered priceless.

Audrey Hepburn's pearls from Breakfast at Tiffany's

Audrey Hepburn has endured over the years as one of the world's most stylish icons. Throughout her career, she created an inimitable style that featured sleek Capris, black turtlenecks, neck scarves, flats and, of course, the little black dress. The film that catapulted her into the fashion spotlight was Breakfast at Tiffany's, the 1961 classic based on the Truman Capote novel, where she played Holly Golightly, a glamorous and extroverted socialite looking for love. While her wardrobe of Hubert de Givenchy dresses won over fashion critics, it was her triple strand pearl necklace that started a fashion revolution. This iconic piece of costume jewellery (there is no information about who designed the actual piece in the film) also featured a larger than life rhinestone pin that transformed it into a statement piece. Of course it was the way that Hepburn wore it that was special - paired with a simple black shift and no other jewellery, or draped across her back. In 2006, American jeweller Kenneth Jay Lane was commissioned by Harper's Bazaar to recreate the famous necklace, which was worn by Natalie Portman on the magazine's cover.

The Burton-Taylor diamond by Cartier

Actress Elizabeth Taylor was known for her extensive collection of jewels -and her husbands. Although her eight marriages didn't last long, her love for jewels remained until her death last month. During her lifetime she was showered with beautiful pieces from many men, but it was the Burton-Taylor diamond, given to her by fifth husband Richard Burton in 1969, that became the most famous. The original diamond came from South Africa and weighed 240.80kt before it was cut by Harry Winston into a pear shape weighing 69.42kt. It was purchased by jeweller Cartier for more than US$1 million and was then sold to Burton within a day (he lost it earlier at an auction and paid a premium to get it back). Taylor wore it publicly for the first time as a necklace to Princess Grace of Monaco's 40th birthday celebration. After her divorce from Burton in 1978, she auctioned off the gem for US$5 million, with the proceeds going to build a hospital in Botswana. Today, it is owned by Lebanese diamond dealer Robert Mouawad.

Duchess of Windsor's panther brooch from Cartier

The romance between Edward, the Duke of Windsor, and American divorcee Wallis Simpson was considered one of the most romantic of the 20th century. Determined to marry the love of his life, Edward renounced his rights to the British throne in 1936 and married Simpson the following year. Over the years he spoilt his wife with beautiful jewels, many of them designed by Cartier. Perhaps the most iconic design was the panther brooch which would later become the brand's most popular motif and featured throughout its future collections. Designed by artist Jeanne Toussaint in 1949 exclusively for the duchess, the original design was a panther brooch mounted on top of a 152.35kt sapphire cabochon from Kashmir. It was one of the duchess' favourite pieces and eventually went for auction in Switzerland in 1987, upon her death. A similar brooch was made in 1989 for a private buyer.

Princess Grace of Monaco's Van Cleef Alhambra necklace

Born and raised in Philadelphia, actress Grace Kelly was America's sweetheart during the 1950s. Her life turned into the ultimate fairy tale when she married Prince Rainier III of Monaco. While the prince commissioned many jewels from Van Cleef & Arpels for his new wife, it was her collection of Alhambra necklaces with their quatrefoil motif recalling Moorish architecture that she loved most. The collection was introduced by the brand in 1968 and featured a distinctive four leaf clover shape outlined in beaded gold and filled with materials such as lapis, tortoiseshell, mother of pearl, wood and diamonds. Princess Grace owned several pieces, but the green malachite necklace she purchased in the 1970s was the style she was most often seen in. This and other pieces from Princess Grace's Alhambra collection are being exhibited at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York as part of the jeweller's 'Set in Style' exhibition. Van Cleef has added different designs to the series (including special edition re-issues of Princess Grace's pieces) and the necklace has been spotted on celebrities Reese Witherspoon and Leighton Meester.