Friday, March 1, 2013

Vintage Celebrity Jewelry: Mary Pickford’s Sapphires (Part 2)

'Star of Bombay' Sapphire
Copyright Smithsonian Institute
Photo Source: Pinterest
by Angela Magnotti Andrews

Despite the damage it might do to their reputations, they took a risk and divorced their spouses so they could get married in March of 1920. According to Photoplay Magazine (June, 1920), their fears of ruin were unfounded. It seems that everyone in Hollywood hoped that the two had “finally found lasting happiness”.

For the first eight years of their marriage, it seemed as though they truly had found happiness. Their lives were governed by romantic customs which included spending every night together, even when it was inconvenient. They always sat together at the dinner table, even when others had arranged for them to sit separately, and they always saved the last dance for each other, even when it meant turning down the future king.*

Given this great romance that bloomed between them, it will come as no surprise that the two lavished each other with gifts. As you can imagine, it would be no small feat to dazzle the likes of Miss Mary Pickford, who could buy whatever she wanted.

So, what did Mr. Fairbanks buy for the woman who had everything?

In 1920, he purchased the ‘Star of Bombay,’ a breathtaking blue star sapphire that was set into a platinum cocktail ring and sold to Mr. Fairbanks by Trabert & Hoeffer, a New York jewelry firm. The stunning 182-carat cabochon-cut star sapphire from Sri Lanka, India, quickly became a favorite in Ms. Pickford’s collection. The movie star kept it close even after the romance began to unravel.

*Eileen Whitfield, in her book Pickford: The Woman Who Made Hollywood, tells of the time when Ms. Pickford declined a dance with George IV, saying that “it wouldn’t be ‘meet a man one minute and then next go into his arms and dance.’” She further commented that she had promised Douglas that she would save the last dance for him.

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1. Kunz, George Frederick. The Curious Lore of Precious Stones. Philadelphia & London: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1913.
2. Leavey, Peggy Dymond. Mary Pickford: Canada’s Silent Siren, America’s Sweetheart. Toronto: Dundurn, 2011.
3. Preston, Douglas J. In the Attic: An Excursion into The American Museum of Natural History. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1986.
4. Price, Judith. Masterpieces of American Jewelry. New York: Running Press, 2004.
5. Schou, Solvej. “Mary Pickford: The Angelina Jolie of her day, but much more famous.” Inside Movies, September 4, 2012,
6. Stone, Tammy. “The Silent Collection, Featuring: Mary Pickford.” Things and Other Stuff, accessed January 15, 2013.
7. TheDeadGuy. “Mary Pickford.” Everything2, January 17, 2002.
8. Waterbury, Ruth, ed. Photoplay Magazine, Vol. XVIII, No. 1, June, 1920. Untitled Story, p. 73.
9. Whitfield, Eileen. Pickford: The Woman Who Made Hollywood. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2007.


  1. Star sapphires are among my favorite jewels. Sounds like this one has quite a history.


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