Today marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Last week, hundreds of artifacts recovered from the sunken ruins were auctioned at Guernsey’s in New York – including some priceless pieces of legendary Titanic jewelry. One of the pieces on offer was a girl’s bracelet with the name “Amy” set in diamonds.
Another piece of Titanic jewelry that made news recently was this beautiful necklace belonging to the wealthy British passenger Eleanor Widener. The chain, valued at $20,000, was stolen from exhibit in Denmark last year.
Image: Discovery News
Heart of the Ocean
By far the most famous jewelry memorabilia related to the Titanic is the legendary “Heart of the Ocean.” Originally, it was a blue sapphire pendant given to passenger Kate Florence Philips by her fiancee Samuel Morley. The night of the sinking, the necklace was one of the only possessions Kate was able to snatch aboard the lifeboat with Samuel’s help, shortly before his death. Kate survived the fateful night and the necklace is now in the possession of a private collector.
This tragic story of a young couple running away together to start a new life in America was part of James Cameron’s inspiration for the film Titanic. In the film, the sapphire was transformed into a priceless heart-shaped blue diamond called the “Heart of the Ocean” whose story was loosely modeled after that of the Hope Diamond.
For the movie, actress Kate Winslet wore an Edwardian-style necklace that was actually made with a blue cubic zirconium. However the piece started a fashion craze that led to the design of a real “Heart of the Ocean” made with sapphire and diamonds and later auctioned for charity at over $2 million. This was the piece Celine Dion wore at the Academy Awards ceremony. Designer Harry Winston created a different version with a real 15-carat blue diamond, worth around $20 million.
Since then, countless imitations of the “Heart of the Ocean” – as well as several jewelry lines inspired by the Titanic’s Edwardian passengers – have become popular, and not just among celebrities.
Vintage styles are hot this fashion season! Read more about Edwardian jewelry: