You’ll Never Guess What Inspired This Jewelry Collection

The immortalization of Marilyn Monroe has been going on in a variety of ways since 1962, when her candle burned out, and the world lost a great talent, style icon, and paean to beauty, glamour, and femininity.

Building a fine jewelry line around a Marilyn-as-muse inspiration point could easily descend into bathos and cliché, but M. Monroe somehow manages to avoid this entirely. Launched just two weeks ago, the collection gathers the work of its designer, Yunjo Lee, under an umbrella of themes that allude to the actress with remarkable subtlety and with the grace, sensitivity, and deep thinking of a poet penning a sonnet.

To accomplish this, Lee focused on the lesser-known Marilyn—the feminist, the dreamer, the avid reader and writer—as a woman of many elusive and complex qualities.

“I was fascinated by Marilyn’s timeless beauty and her pioneering spirit, which resonated with me not only as a designer but also as a woman,” says Lee. “She was vulnerable, yet strong, with an incredible light within. Having a vision for herself, and following through her dream, was very forward-thinking for the time. She was a humanitarian, an entrepreneur, an intellect, a style icon, an actress who strived to be an artist with integrity—truly multifaceted.”

Lee, formerly of Tiffany & Co., has a fine arts background and acquired strong conceptualization skills at the Pratt Institute and by working directly with visionaries such as Paloma Picasso and Frank Gehry. She also served as the creative director of Michael Kors Jewelry.

M Monroe Aura charm bracelets renderingFirst, Lee draws a rendering of each design by hand before translating to CAD.

“Being a natural daydreamer myself, I was able to connect with Marilyn’s subtle and delicate characteristics and translate them into beautiful pieces of jewelry,” says Lee.

M. Monroe comprises three distinct collections: Whisper seeks to capture the actress’s soft, sensuous, and breathy voice; the single diamond accent references her beauty mark.

M Monroe Whisper ID bracelet

Whisper ID bracelet with white diamond in 18k rose gold, $850

M Monroe Whisper heart medium hoop earrings

Whisper heart medium hoop earrings with diamonds in 18k rose gold, $1,550

M Monroe Whisper pave wave cuff black diamonds

Whisper pavé wave bangle with black diamonds in 18k rose gold, $3,250

Stellar is a direct reference to Monroe’s star power (“We are all stars, and we deserve to twinkle,” she once said).

M Monroe Stellar Ring RenderingStellar ring rendering; see actual product here.

And Aura is borne from language Monroe used to describe her dreams—“Scarlet and gold and shining white, greens and blues”—and the idea that colors that can reveal emotions.

M Monroe Aura medium sphere ring

Aura medium sphere ring with blue topaz in 18k rose gold, $1,450

M Monroe Aura triple charm bracelet

Aura triple charm bracelet with rock crystal, rose quartz, and prasiolite, $4,300

M Monroe Aura small pave sphere ring

Aura small pavé sphere ring with diamonds in 18k rose gold, $2,750

The collection is currently sold exclusively online along with assorted one-off high jewelry pieces handmade in New York City. The opening price point is $350.

Top: Marilyn Monroe’s famous “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” dress inspired the Stellar Shooting Stars earrings in 18k rose gold and diamonds, $25,000


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All That Glitters writer