DIAMOND DIVA MARILYN MONROE
Even if screen goddesses as Jean Harlow, Rita Hayworth and Greta Garbo dominated the spotlights in the 1950s, Marilyn Monroe was probably the perfect actress to promote diamonds as a diva. But which diamond was the nicest one, she ever wore?
When Marilyn Monroe achieved success in 1953 thanks to the film “Gentlemen Prefer Blonds” in which she starred with Jane Russell. For the promotion of the film, Meyer Rosenbaum lent her the “Moon of Baroda”. This canary yellow diamond of 24.04 carats is of Indian origin. The exceptional stone had belonged to the treasures of India for over 500 years, notably to the Maharajas of Baroda. In 1860, one of the maharajas wore it set in a necklace from his fabulous collection.
The stone was displayed in 1926 in Los Angeles and sold to Meyer Rosenbaum, president of the Meyer Jewelry Company, in the 1950s.
In 1948, the De Beers diamond corporation launched an advertising campaign with the slogan: “A diamond is forever”. The “Moon of Baroda” was without doubt the biggest and most impressive diamond ever worn by Marilyn Monroe. Although she mainly wore fake jewellery in her private life and was probably the person who best advertised the diamond when she sang “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.”
It is said that in the 18th Century the “Moon of Baroda” was given to Empress Marie-Thérèse by the Barodas and was worn by one of her daughters. Could it have been her daughter Marie-Antoinette, future Queen of France?
Then it seems that the diamond was returned to its original owners for it was in Prince Rama Ghandra’s possession until World War II. The Japanese and then the British government confiscated many of his belongings and the Prince had to sell the gemstone to survive.
It reappeared in 1991 at an auction at Christie’s, having been preciously kept in different collections and exhibited in 2008 for the first time in the Diamond Divas exhibition in Antwerp.
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Image from the book Diamond Divas. Text ©Diamond Divas book.