History of the iconic aquamarine and ruby belt buckle necklace but who owns it now?

Aquamarine belt buckle necklace
Photo credit: Siegelson - designed by Fulco de Verdura for Paul Flato


Does anyone remember this iconic aquamarine belt buckle necklace designed by one of my favourite jewellers Duke Fulco di Verdura for Paul Flato? It looks so contemporary but it was actually designed in 1935. If the Chrysler Building in New York is an American architectural landmark, then the aquamarine and ruby belt buckle necklace is the jewellery equivalent.

Introduced by their mutual friend Diana Veerland, both Vedura and Flato were known for their original and flamboyant styles. It was unusual to combine semi-precious stones with precious gems, especially when a gem of lesser value takes centre stage. To fully appreciate the necklace, it’s important to note that during this time in the 1930’s, European jewellery houses, like Cartier, Boucheron & Van Cleef & Arpels dominated the scene. They catered to royalty, movie stars and the elite. However, it took a Texan to give Verdura carte blanche to stir things up and to change the playing field.

So how did the necklace come to be and what happened to it? It was Cole Porter who had the piece commissioned for his wife Linda Lee Porter. They then bequeathed it to Fred Astaire’s daughter Ava. It was sold on to Fred Leighton and then much later to Lee Siegleson. The proud owner is now the actress and professional poker player Jennifer Tilly.

From something completely utilitarian a great American classic is born.


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