A classic pearl necklace was one of the ‘few pieces of fine jewelry that Marilyn Monroe owned outright,’ says the co-curator of an exhibition dedicated to pearls at the Victoria and Albert Museum. This Hollywood icon’s pearl strand was displayed its original oval box.
Marilyn Monroe, the iconic name conjures up thoughts of glamour and also a romantic story about pearls; a certain exquisite pearl necklace.
In 1954, pearls were at the center of the mystique associated with two Americans at the height of their famed careers, Marilyn Monroe and famed baseball player Joe DiMaggio. These two “stars” were married that year and honeymooned in Japan, the cultured pearl industry base, where they met the inventor of cultured pearls, Kokichi Mikimoto. There in Japan, Mr. DiMaggio purchased a pearl necklace for his bride. The perfect pearls were a beautiful reflection of his love for his new wife. He purchased these quality cultured pearls directly from Mikimoto. The pearl necklace consisted of 44 akoya pearls, the pearl strand being 16 inches long, containing a Mikimoto signature gold clasp. By the time she received this pearl necklace in 1954, fashionable Hollywood had caused the wearing of cultured pearls to be associated with glamour and sex appeal.
After nine months of marriage, Monroe eventually kept her career and her pearls but gave up her demanding husband. The marital pressure had taken its toll on her – but the pearl necklace became part of Hollywood myth surrounding this romantic star.
Monroe was seen wearing her 16 inch strand of perfect akoya pearls to court as she entered the building for her divorce from Joe DiMaggio just nine months after their wedding. Monroe did truly valued her friendship with her ex-husband and also the pearls he had given her. This necklace had meaning for her.
Monroe later gave her pearl necklace to friend Paula Strasberg, who in turn gifted the pearls to her daughter. Pearls outlasted marriage but remained symbolic of loving friendship.