#RocksMyWorld: The Stunning Jewels of Screen Legend Lauren Bacall Go Up for Auction
In this #RocksMyWorld feature, InStyle’s jewelry and watch editor Marion Fasel shares the inside scoop on the treasures that are on her radar. Follow Fasel on Instagram (@marionfasel) to see more gems that rock her world.
When Lauren Bacall made her screen debut in the 1946 classic The Big Sleep she immediately catapulted to fame. The way she coolly delivered her lines to co-star Humphrey Bogart (“You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together, and blow.”) captivated audiences and her leading man’s heart. The star’s romance, marriage and movies with Bogie—The Big Sleep (1946), The Dark Passage (1947) and Key Largo (1948)—are the high profile chapters of her celebrated biography.
What is less well known about the actress, who passed away last year at 89, is her lifelong love of jewelry. A selection of 30 rings, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and brooches form part of the Lauren Bacall Collection of 700 items from her estate being sold at Bonhams auction house in New York on March 31 and April 1.
Bacall’s jewelry style was not about big stones and statement items like Elizabeth Taylor. Her pieces are more personal—a reflection of her fascination with the arts. "She was interested in form, shape and texture,” explains Susan Abeles, head of jewelry in the United States at Bonhams. In the same way Bacall forged friendships with the sculptors she admired including Henry Moore and Robert Graham she had relationships with many of the jewelry designers she collected.
During the 1960s on her regular visits to Paris she often went to see Jean Schlumberger. The super talent who joined Tiffany & Co. in 1956 (where his work can still be found) also operated a small independent boutique in the City of Lights near the Grand Palais during his lifetime. This intimate location is where Bacall found her two favorite gold bracelets seen above on the actress in 1963 for her role as Lorraine Boswell in an NBC special A Dozen Deadly Roses and in 2009 when she received an Academy Honorary Award.
“The quality of the chasing on the goldwork is something you don’t see anymore,” says Pierce MacGuire who was the longtime director of Tiffany’s Schlumberger Collection.
A Schlumberger ring (below) set with an approximately 11-carat amethyst flanked by diamonds in a foliated pattern and turquoise beads that spread across the fingers is one of the most stunning pieces in Bacall’s collection. “I don’t think anyone else had that ring in that colorway,” says MacGuire. “It was her and that was that.”
Bacall commissioned Schlumberger to create the pair of earrings (below) with square-cut emeralds, sapphires, and amethyst she brought to the designer. The latticework gold pattern on the jewels extends up the earlobe and the stones twinkle with movement.
Throughout the 1980s and '90s, Bacall commissioned many jewels for herself, friends, and family from three talented jewelry designers featured in the Bonhams sale: Elizabeth Gage, Amy Moss, and Darlene de Sedle. One delightful jewel commissioned from Gage (below) features a camel the star picked up on a vacation poised on an enamel plaque accented with rose-cut diamonds and a pearl.
de Sedele created many jewels for Bacall over the years including the Jaeite Jade and 22K gold ring (below), a piece she would wear stacked with other rings.
Bacall wrote Moss a note after she received her clover shape rubellite and 22K ring (below) and said it was “A triumph.” She can be seen wearing the jewel in the above photo from when she received her Honorary Academy Award.
“Both Amy and Darlene told us stories about meeting Ms. Bacall at the Beverly Hills Hotel where she stayed when she visited Los Angeles,” says Abeles. “They said she would be swimming laps, jump out of the pool and just had a commanding star quality with her piercing blue eyes and husky voice. She empowered their ability to create. ”