The ruby and diamond design stars in Anne Eisenhower’s remarkable jewellery collection, which also features a complementary necklace and earrings
When it comes to old Hollywood glamour, Marlene Dietrich’s name is at the top of the list. Known for her unmistakable voice and boundary-pushing style, the German and American actress managed to retain and amplify her stardom during the transition from silent films to talkies. In the 1930s, Dietrich was on contract with Paramount Pictures, where she frequently starred in films by Austrian-American director Josef von Sternberg, such as The Blue Angel (1930) and Blonde Venus (1932).
As her fame grew, Dietrich began working with other legendary directors, including the revered Alfred Hitchcock. During Luxury Week in New York, Christie’s will offer the actress’ Van Cleef & Arpels ruby and diamond ‘Jarretière’ bracelet worn during Stage Fright, the 1950 thriller directed by the English filmmaker and master of the horror genre. The bracelet is a star lot in The Magnificent Jewels of Anne Eisenhower sale on 7 June.
Before the bracelet — which Daphne Lingon, Christie’s Head of Jewellery for the Americas, calls ‘one of the most recognisable pieces of Van Cleef & Arpels ever produced’ — entered the collection of the late philanthropist, interior designer and granddaughter of Dwight D. Eisenhower, it was beloved by Dietrich both on and offscreen.
Beyond exuding glamour and magnetism, Anne Eisenhower and Dietrich shared another key quality: patriotism. While Anne’s grandfather led the invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe while Supreme Commander of Allied Forces during World War II, Dietrich also became a staunch advocate for the US war effort.
After renouncing her German citizenship and becoming a US citizen in the late 1930s, she used her position in the spotlight to help sell war bonds for World War II and volunteer with other Hollywood greats at the Hollywood canteen location for off-duty soldiers. In 1944 and 1945 Dietrich embarked on two tours with the USO where she performed for troops in France, Italy, Algeria and Germany. In 1947 she was awarded two of the highest honours, the Medal of Freedom by the US government and the Legion of Honour by the French government.
Marlene returned to the screen and stage in the late 1940s and early 1950s, in films such as Billy Wilder’s A Foreign Affair and Hitchcock’s Stage Fright. Working with notable fashion and jewellery houses in these films, Dietrich formed lasting relationships Christian Dior, Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels. Louis Arpels even became a close friend. This relationship with Mr. Arpels led to the ideation and creation of one of the most extraordinary pieces of jewellery ever made: Dietrich’s ruby and diamond bracelet.
Crafted in 1937 by Van Cleef & Arpels’ expert jewellers, Dietrich’s cuff bracelet features oval-shaped rubies, round, square-shaped and baguette-cut diamonds, all set in platinum. Well known for being featured in several scenes in Hitchcock’s Stage Fright, Dietrich’s character Charlotte coolly snaps on the iconic bracelet as well as other similar Van Cleef & Arpels ruby and diamond jewellery while in heated conversations with Richard Todd’s character, Jonathan.
The ‘Jarretière’ cuff bracelet sits above the wrist, and its unique blend of curves and geometric elements result in one harmonious form. This spectacular Van Cleef & Arpels bracelet pushed the boundaries of jewellery design in the late 1930s, much like Dietrich herself was known to do. It is said that this cuff bracelet was a favourite of hers, and the only piece of jewellery she kept throughout her life. Dietrich also wore the bracelet to the 1951 Academy Awards, where she presented the best foreign language film award (which can be watched here).
In 1992 the bracelet found its new owner in Anne Eisenhower, whose love of precious stones, namely rubies, emeralds, and sapphires, as well as Van Cleef & Arpels, is evident in her spectacular collection. After she purchased the bracelet at auction, she had the French house design a complementary necklace and earrings, both of which are also offered in the 7 June sale.
For the ultimate admirer of Dietrich, the bracelet is also accompanied by a custom Mark Cross leather case that bears the star’s initials. The question remains: who will be the next owner to make history by adding to this bracelet’s star-studded provenance?
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