Swedish actress Anita Ekberg was living the sweet life in 1960 after starring in Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita as a fabulous international film star letting loose in Rome. (Remember that gal in the black dress dancing in the Trevi Fountain?) And so was most of the jewelry-loving world. Diamonds and ladylike baubles were in. Matching necklace, earrings, and bracelet suites were back after the austerity of the war years. Even adding a second bracelet didn’t hurt. And decadence—like pretending to eat your Cartier as if you were a Roman goddess sucking on grapes—was cool.
“At that time, even if Ekberg actually wore all those jewels—a bracelet on each wrist and the necklace and these earrings—she would have appeared very tasteful and not overdone,” says jewelry historian Elise B. Misiorowski, G.G., of Joia Consulting. “Throughout history, it’s always the same. There are these big, opulent periods and then it shrinks back down. Then it becomes more opulent. This was a return to that opulence.”