Diamonds are Great Movie Characters
Natural diamonds shine so bright that they attract glamorous women and hardcore criminals alike. Provoking greed and jealousy as much as desire and beauty, they bring about the best and the worst in humans. This tension is what makes these stories unforgettable. Remember Grace Kelly’s magnetic voice in Alfred Hitchcock’s iconic To Catch a Thief? As she prepares to kiss the cat burglar John Robie—played by Cary Grant—she whispers sensually: “Look John. Hold them. Diamonds…”
From heists and spy adventures to absolute seduction and glamor, diamonds inspire action movies, comedies, romances—and not much drama. Their light is too bright to bring up tears. Even the ending of Titanic is not sad. Rose’s blue diamond—“The Heart of the Ocean”—is a testament that Jack’s beloved one lived a long life after the waves took him away from her.
Diamonds have the power to unleash the imagination of screenwriters. The range of possibilities is like the ambition of the Spectre in James Bond’s Diamonds are Forever: the moon is the limit. After all, since a natural diamond is the hardest material on earth, it’s not such a stretch to imagine it can help you control the planet! Thus these scenarios are quite epic. With humor, action, elegance, expensive decorations and/or special effects, diamonds always arise from the deepest mysteries and the best kept safes to make you smile. Unless they make you wake up in the morning to have Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Extravagant Fiction and True Facts
Truth is, reality and fiction sometimes come hand in hand. Not only because real-life burglars can be as daring as Danny Ocean’s 11, 12 or 13, but also because a good movie involves a lot of research. The ingenuity of the scenarios is often guided by a true knowledge of diamonds, high jewelry and history.
It may not have hit the jackpot like Ocean’s 11, but Ocean’s 8 is one of the smartest movies about diamonds. It is the first to have highlighted the importance of jewelry setting. In this all-female cast, the lead role is played by the gigantic “Toussaint Necklace”. Named after the historic designer of Cartier, Jeanne Toussaint, it is a replica of a necklace that Jacques Cartier designed for the Maharajah of Nawanagar in the 1930s. To smuggle the 500-carat “most beautiful cascade of colored diamonds in the world” in broad daylight during the Met Gala, Sandra Bullock’s character called on an expert. In a few minutes, the jeweler Amita, portrayed by Mindy Kaling, dismantled the dummy masterpiece. It had required 4,200 hours from the best Cartier craftsmen to recreate.
Cinema is Diamond’s Best Friend
In very rare occurrences, the search for truthfulness leads to actual diamond jewelry playing on set. To make the Crawleys’ tiaras even more regal when Queen Mary comes to visit Downton Abbey, Emmy-nominated costume designer Anna Robbins directly asked Bentley & Skinner. Although it is challenging for insurance, borrowing vintage jewelry was the smartest way to be accurate. Established in 1880s, this antique London institution is selling ‘by Royal Appointment to Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.’
Marilyn Monroe’s song in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes said it all: “I don’t mean rhinestones.” Cinema doesn’t fool around with diamonds. Most movies play by the rules and embrace the craft of jewelers when they tell a diamond story. Otherwise, they know that the wonderful illusion of cinema would never work.
And neither would its magic.
The true name of the diamond necklace in the actual Titanic steamship was “Love of the Sea”. It was not a blue diamond, but a sapphire surrounded by diamonds that once belonged to King Louis XVI. In real life, the necklace was a token of love from a married man to his 19-year-old mistress. She survived; he did not. After the film’s raving success, Asprey & Garrard were commissioned to create an authentic replica of the necklace with a 171-carat heart-shaped Ceylon sapphire, surrounded by 103 natural diamonds. Céline Dion wore it to the 1998 Academy Awards where she performed the film’s theme song, “My Heart Will Go On”. This is how the stories of diamonds are very similar to fairy tales: they only like happy endings.