Last week, I was privileged to enjoy a special thrill—recalling some of the iconic moments of early American cinema, and seeing, up close, jewelry that made those moments so memorable. Movie buffs won’t be surprised that the jewelry of which I speak is from Joseff of Hollywood, “Jeweller to the Stars.”
Joseff’s daughter-in-law, Tina, and her daughter, Michele, shared with the local jewelry hobbyists’ group Jewelry Collectors of Los Angeles, the history of the company that at one time supplied 90 percent of all the jewelry worn in American film, as well as the jewelry worn in television productions including such jewelry-laden favorites as Dynasty and Dallas. Joseff of Hollywood maintains a warehouse full of gems from the past, and continues to produce a limited number of new designs each year for purchase. I hope we’ll be seeing Joseff of Hollywood designs again on Sue Ellen in the updated sequel Dallas that launched this month.
Although most of the jewelry borrowed by the studios from Joseff of Hollywood was gold-plated (with a special process that wouldn’t produce glare under movie lights) or paste, it sparkled mightily and adorned the necks of such luminaries as Bette Davis, Greta Garbo, Katherine Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, and on and on…with a ubiquity that a jeweler who supplies today’s celebrities with red carpet jewels can only dream about.
My favorite story of the evening related to Lana Turner and her role in the 1948 film The Three Musketeers. The censors were concerned that Ms. Turner’s costumes showed too much cleavage, and thus the huge “cleavage brooch” with an attached stem that could be sewn right into a costume, was born.
Especially exciting for me: I held in my hand the “gold” cigar box that Rhett Butler donated to the Confederate cause, and posed with the “amethyst and diamond” necklace that Scarlett O’Hara wore in Paris after her marriage to Rhett in Gone With the Wind.
Photo still from “Gone with the Wind” provided by Joseff of Hollywood
How many trends have been launched by the thoughtful design and provision of jewels as a key component of box office glamour. Hooray for Joseff of Hollywood!