A diamond necklace plays a pivotal role in the plot of Ocean’s 8, an all female relaunch of the Ocean’s franchise which opens in theaters nationwide on June 8, 2018.
With a star studded cast, several A-list cameo appearances and a heist revolving around New York’s most fashionable red carpet event, we would expect the jewelry in the film to be awe-inspiring. And it is, thanks to Cartier’s exclusive partnership with the film.
Cartier enjoys a long legacy of providing jewels for the silver screen and creating pieces for high profile celebrity clients, particularly during Hollywood’s heyday. Therefore Cartier’s involvement, that also includes lending jewels from its Cartier Collection as well as new jewelry and watches, is a perfect match for the Warner Bros. film.
The story line follows Sandra Bullock in the role of Debbie Ocean, sister of Danny Ocean (George Clooney in the first three chapters), who enlists the help of a beautiful band of thieves played by Cate Blanchett, Rihanna, Sarah Paulson, Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaling and Awkwafina. Their target? A diamond necklace, inspired by a rare historical piece, worn by Anne Hathaway’s character, also an actress, at the MET Costume Exhibit Gala.
The Origin, The Legend
Jacques Cartier designed the original necklace upon which the one created for the film is based in 1931. The Maharaja of Nawanagar was its recipient and it included what was described as “the finest cascade of colored diamonds in the world.”
The central diamond was a 136.25 carat blue-white flawless gem, known as the Queen of Holland diamond. The necklace also consisted of a 12 carat green diamond and a number of large pink and white diamonds.
The necklace for the film was named the “Jeanne Toussaint,” as a tribute to the bold and independent creative director who was responsible for the identity and style of Cartier throughout the 1930s.
Although the necklace no longer exists, Cartier was able to go back to its archives and used the original design drawing and photographs to recreate it for the film.
Due to the fact that it was originally created for a man, the scale had to be brought down to Anne Hathaway’s proportions and was perfectly fitted due to the expertise of Cartier’s High Jewelry workshop on Rue de la Paix in Paris.
The master jewelers had eight weeks to create the piece and replicated the diamonds with zirconium oxide—as a prop for the film—a natural material that was set into white gold.
A Mysterious Gem
A question that arises right away is, what’s the backstory on the authentic necklace and what happened to it?
It all began with the Queen of Holland Diamond, which was named by the Dutch firm F. Friedman & Co., owners of the diamond since 1904, after Her Majesty Queen Wilhelmina, the ruler of the Kingdom of Netherlands from 1890 to 1948.
Prior to that, the diamond is somewhat of a mystery: there is no definitive information on the country and mine of origin, the original owners or the date of discovery.
What has been reported is that the piece, internally flawless with a slight bluish tint, first appeared in Amsterdam around the beginning of the 20th century.
The Maharaja of Nawanagar purchased the Queen of Holland from F. Friedman & Co. and brought it to Cartier, where he was a client. Jacques Cartier set the diamond as a pendant to a majestic ceremonial necklace host by the Prince.
After the Maharaja’s death in 1933, the necklace remained in the family until Cartier eventually bought it in 1960. Then, in 1978 William Goldberg purchased the diamond and re-cut it from 136.25 carats to its present weight of 135.92. The gem is now owned by Robert Mouawad.
As for the whereabouts of the rest of the diamonds, they were reportedly sold, but to whom and when is not publicly recorded.
Cartier created other pieces for the Maharaja, one of which was a diamond Turban Ornament set with the 61.50 carat Tiger Eye Diamond, which resides in the Al Thani collection.
Epic Diamonds: Jewelry History, Famous & Fancy Color Diamonds
For Ocean’s 8, Cartier lent pieces from different time periods. There is a diamond lavaliere necklace from Cartier Paris, circa 1906, which additional cast members can be seen wearing. Mindy Kaling shows a Cartier Collection suite of a diamond necklace with Palmette clip brooches and ear clips Cartier Paris, 1958.
These and other pieces from the film are on exhibit until June 8th at the landmark Cartier Mansion in New York City.
Once you have seen Ocean’s 8 in theaters and your interest in cinematic diamonds takes off, you might want to check other movies where Cartier has played a relevant part of the plot, like Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat (1944), in which Tallulah Bankhead plays chic columnist Connie Porter and wears a diamond bracelet that becomes “bait for fish”; or The Great Gatsby (1974), in which Mia Farrow as Daisy Buchanan wears an Art Deco marquise shaped diamond engagement ring, among other jewels of the same era.
And who can forget Audrey Hepburn in How to Steal A Million (1966), where she showcases a lace mask and diamond earrings which climb up her lobe, or Grace Kelly in High Society (1956), who wore her own engagement ring from Prince Rainier?