Silver screen stars and their jewellery

Posted by jewelrybrand on November 24th, 2015

An icon of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema in the 1940s, María Félix was known for playing intense, strong women on screen and for her equally dramatic life off-camera. Married four times, her only son was kidnapped by her first husband Enrique Alvarez Alatorre, only to be rescued by her second, Agustin Lara. But aside from her turbulent personal life, Félix was a muse to many artists, dressed by top designers and had an insatiable appetite for custom Cartier creations. When it came to jewellery, only the real thing would do; Félix is famously quoted as once having said, "Some friends tell me that pearls make people cry. The only pearls that make me cry are the fake ones".

María Félix photographed wearing her bespoke Cartier Panther bangle and a Panther brooch Bulgari B.zero1 Earrings in 18kt Pink Gold with Pave Diamonds OR856238 

An avid collector, Félix’s dazzling array of jewels included the 41.37-carat Ashoka diamond, a stone named after the Buddhist warrior-emperor Ashoka the Great. Once owned by jeweller Harry Winston, the Ashoka is one of the largest diamonds ever sourced from the now-exhausted Golconda mines, making it a truly rare gem.

Félix was a fashion lover with a predilection for personalised pieces. Dressed by the likes of Christian Dior, Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, Balenciaga and Hermès couture, the star’s taste for one-off items also extended to jewellery. Over the years she commissioned Cartier to create several bespoke jewels, striking up a creative partnership with director of high jewellery Jeanne Toussaint. The first, in 1968, was an articulated serpent necklace made of platinum and white gold, encrusted with 2,473 brilliant and baguette cut diamonds, weighing over 178 carats. So impressed was Félix by the lifelike qualities of Cartier’s rendition of the animal that she asked the jeweller to design another reptile replica.

Cartier Maison's Emblematic Panther Bracelet in 18kt Yellow Gold with  Black Onyx, Black Lacquer and GarnetCartier Maillon Panthere Bracelet, 18k Pink Gold

In what must be the most dramatic start to any collaboration in the history of fine jewellery, in 1975 the actress entered a Cartier store carrying a bowl containing a tiny live crocodile and challenged the jewellers to make a piece in its image. The result was a necklace/brooch hybrid composed of two crocodiles which could be clipped together and worn wrapped around the throat or unclipped as separate pins. One brooch was made from gold and encrusted with 1,023 yellow diamonds weighing 60.02 carats in total while the other was studded with 1,060 circular cut emeralds weighing over 66.86 carats.

Considering her close relationship with the champion of Cartier’s panther Jeanne Toussaint, it’s hardly surprising that Félix also purchased several jewels featuring this iconic motif. Her panther pieces included two brooches, one in platinum, onyx and diamonds and a bangle with two panther heads designed especially for the star using the same materials but with pear-shaped emeralds for the eyes.

Such was Félix’s patronage of the fine jewellers, that, in 2006, Cartier honoured the actress with a collection entitled La Doña de Cartier. The range paid homage to Félix's reptilian inspirations, featuring a watch with links intended to evoke the ridges of a crocodile’s back.

Though during María Félix's career, her refusal to learn English meant her star was limited to Mexican and French audiences, now, the actress's love for fine jewellery has earned her a legacy that knows no language barrier.

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