When director George Cukor needed to bejewel Katharine Hepburn as the blue-blood daughter of a rich banker for his 1938 comedy Holiday, he didn’t rely on just any costumer. He hired American jeweler Paul Flato and his most famous designer, Italian Duke Fulco di Verdura. Every proper late-’30s socialite owned a Flato by Verdura trinket (or two). Tobacco heiress Doris Duke and cosmetic tycoon Elizabeth Arden had several. “Flato jewelry appealed to women who can best be described as glamorous,” says Ward Landrigan, the current CEO of Verdura. “He was often called ‘New York society’s jeweler.’?”
Flato and Verdura created several pieces, including this brooch and three-strand necklace. Both were made of diamonds set in platinum. “White on white was popular in the 1930s,” points out Elizabeth Irvine Bray, author of Paul Flato: Jeweler to the Stars. “Cukor wanted Hepburn in really glamorous diamond pieces, and he wanted them to be large so they would show up really well on film.” The duo also designed a matching midi pinky ring with three dangling diamond boules, based on a toe ring Flato saw on a dancer in Egypt. It was Hepburn’s favorite piece in the film.