Collectors of historic jewelry and Hollywood memorabilia will have the chance to bid on a cuff bracelet Elizabeth Taylor wore in the iconic 1963 film, Cleopatra.
The gold-plated bracelet, which is covered in gilded, swerving snakes, will be auctioned Nov. 18 as part of a Joseff of Hollywood sale at Julien’s Auctions in Los Angeles that also includes a thin, snake-motif belt Taylor wore in the movie. The bracelet is expected to sell for between $5,000 and $7,000, and the belt for $3,000 to $5,000.
Jewelry designer Eugene “Joseff of Hollywood” Joseff was an eminent film industry jewelry maker and a legend in the history of the business. The designer all but invented the concept of reproducing period jewelry utilizing costume materials but fabricating in the style of high jewelry, so as to look completely authentic on screen.
Detail of the Joseff of Hollywood belt worn by Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra (courtesy of Julian’s Auctions)
A native Chicagoan who initially made jewelry as a hobby, Joseff was irked that the jewelry film stars wore in many of the studios’ period pieces looked cheap or inauthentic.
He got started in the industry, reportedly, by pestering a Hollywood player about creating jewelry for films. Eventually, the nagging paid off: He was commissioned to create a ring for a movie—with only a few days to craft and deliver it. He made the deadline.
The designer went on to create a veritable avalanche of now-recognizable jewels for classic films including All About Eve and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. He prided himself on the historical accuracy of his pieces and operated his own foundry in L.A. that contained a large decorative arts reference library.
The upcoming Julian’s Auctions sale features an extensive array of Joseff of Hollywood pieces—500 in all—that were worn by virtually every major movie star in the 1930s and 1940s, including Marilyn Monroe, Vivien Leigh, Marlene Dietrich, and Lucille Ball.
Among the lots are a necklace worn by Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind and earrings worn by Marilyn Monroe in movies and now-iconic photos.
Flipping through the 300-plus-page auction catalog takes you on a deep dive into the glitz of Hollywood’s Golden Age. It’s a dazzling initiation to the work of a talented (and highly industrious!) artist.
(Top: A gold-plated cuff worn by Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra, courtesy of Julian’s Auctions)