Do you know of Jackie Kennedy’s jewelry and engagement ring collection?
This is an interesting question to dwell on. It provides a cursory glimpse into former United States First Lady Jackie Kennedy’s jewelry collections, preferences, and engagement rings. Not many know the answer. Baby boomers who knew and probably loved her, certainly don’t. And millennials who only know about her through history books or old newspaper clippings don’t care.
Jackie Kennedy’s Jewelry and Engagement Ring Collection
Jackie Kennedy’s fashion may have happened a long while back, but isn’t it worth knowing? If a lot of Americans are glued in front of their TV screens for each episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians, why not about Jackie? After all, she has a lot more to offer than Kim Kardashian. Further, in case this has slipped you, Jackie was one of the most loved U.S. First Ladies (second only to Eleanor Roosevelt).
A Glimpse into Jackie’s Life
To joggle your memory about her, here’s a slice of who and what she was.
Jackie was born Jacqueline Lee Bouvier on June 28, 1929, in Southampton, New York. Her father, John, of French descent, was a wealthy Wall Street stockbroker. Her mom, Janet, was of Irish and English descent.
Prior to becoming the U.S. First Lady, Jackies was a socialite, photographer, writer, and book editor. She did not only speak English, but also Spanish, French, and Italian.
After graduating from George Washington University, Jackie was hired by Vogue by besting a field of over 1,279 applicants. Her assignment was to work for six months in the magazine’s Washington office, and six months in France.
But to everyone’s surprise, she resigned at mid-day the following day. Jackie thought that the female-dominated work environment of the magazine would affect her chances of meeting the marriage material she was looking for.
The Dinner that Changed Jackie’s Life
Everything happens for a reason. Though it is not always obvious at the outset.
When Jackie left Vogue, she found employment at Washington Times-Herald as a photojournalist.
In 1952, Jackie was invited to a dinner by Charles Bartlett—a fellow journalist and a friend. Charles did it specifically so Jackie will get to meet JFK, a budding congressman at that time.
There and then, the two hit it off immediately. In fact, John was so smitten by Jackie during that dinner, according to Bobby Kennedy, John’s brother.
Shortly after meeting, Jackie was sent to London to cover the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. While there, she stayed a few more months to savor the grandeur of Europe. When she got back, she started dating John, which led to their engagement in 1953.
JFK’s Engagement Ring to Jackie
In 1953, they announced their engagement to the press. And when asked about the engagement ring, John answered that they haven’t settled on one yet—after looking at dozens of them.
There is no record of when Jackie acquired the ring, but they eventually found one at Van Cleef & Arpels in New York.
The piece was a vintage art deco engagement ring, and featured several types of stones and cuts. It boasted of a 2.84-carat emerald-cut emerald, surrounded by 2.88-carat baguette diamonds.
But Jackie Kennedy’s original engagement ring did not remain original. In 1963, she had it redone. She asked Van Cleef to put in an additional 2.12-carats of marquise and round-cut diamonds.
And how much is Jackie Kennedy’s engagement ring worth? There is no record concerning Jackie’s engagement ring from JFK. But there is for her second engagement ring.
Jackie’s Second Engagement Ring
Washington’s Camelot ended in tragedy when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, in Dallas, Texas.
That left Jackie Kennedy a grieving widow—but not for long. On October 20, 1968, Jackie married a Greek shipping magnate, Aristotle Onassis.
And this paved the way for Jackie’s second engagement ring—a 40-carat marquise-cut Lesotho III diamond. This diamond is one of only 18 stones dug up from the diamond mines in Lesotho, South Africa.
Where have Jackie’s Engagement Rings Gone To
Ari Onassis died in 1975, and Jackie on May 19, 1994.
With both of them gone, it leaves a lot of questions like:
- What happened to Jackie Kennedy’s engagement ring?
- Where is Jackie Kennedy’s engagement ring from JFK?
- Who owns Jackie Kennedy’s engagement ring?
Jackie’s engagement ring from Onassis was auctioned off for $ 2.59 million. And her engagement ring from Jack lies at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, Massachusetts. Technically, it is still owned by the Kennedy family.
Jackie Kennedy’s Jewelry Collection
Jackie Kennedy, despite having been gone for 27 years remains one of the most influential style icons in modern history. She was impeccable in her fashion sense and dazzling in her array of precious gems.
Most of Jackie’s jewelry was auctioned off. A wedding bracelet from John and her engagement ring are displayed at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston. But her jewelry statement can still be found in the market in the form of replicas and/or Jackie-inspired. And they are still very popular among people who want to have a ‘Jackieness’ look.
Jackie Kennedy, among other things, was the fashion icon of women in the 1960s. Consequently, she had a treasure-trove of jewelry items, both high-end and costume. But of her countless collections, the following are more precious than others as they were all given by JFK:
Engagement Ring from JFK
Jackie’s engagement ring from John was one with a green gemstone, a stunning 2.88 emerald-cut emerald adorned with baguette diamonds around it.
It was an excellent choice. An emerald-cut is rectangular in shape, with linear facets and a large table. making it exhibit a fusion of light and dark planes. As far as the stone is concerned, emerald is the stone of prosperity. A good emerald stone helps the wearer gain better income opportunities,
The baguette accent stones complimented the beauty of the center stones The baguette cut—so-called because it looks like the thin French bread—is the most popular cut for engagement rings.
How much is Jackie Kennedy’s engagement rings worth? Unfortunately, nothing is said about its price.
However, in 1962, Jackie Kennedy’s original engagement ring was redesigned by Van Cleefs by adding an additional 2. 88 square-cut and marquise-cut diamonds to further enhance its beauty.
John gave this wedding bracelet to Jackie the night before their wedding.
The bracelet has a row of 28 diamonds and 18 pearls around its perimeter, with an engraved thin strand of nautical ropes bordering each side. The effect is both artistic, regal, and adorable.
Jackie wore the bracelet during their wedding, coupled with a pearl choker necklace and a diamond brooch given to her by Joseph and Rose Kennedy.
First Anniversary Pearl and Diamond Earrings
For their first anniversary in 1954, John gave Jackie a unique set of pearl and diamond earrings.
These earrings can be worn in a variety of ways. The pave diamond leaves can be worn alone, or with either white or black pearl drop earrings, which have both flower petal caps in pave diamonds.
They surely are unique and at the same time magical and glamorous.
Schlumberger Berry Brooch
Jackie was extremely happy with the brooch and the circumstances in which it was given. JFK gave the brooch to Jackie a few days before he was sworn in as President of the United States, and he bought it at Tiffany’s in New York while he was busy organizing his team as an incoming president.
The brooch is set in gold, adorned with rubies and diamonds, and is one of the first few pieces Schlumberger made for Tiffany.
When Jackie died, Caroline inherited the brooch. It is currently on loan to the JFK Presidential Library and Museum.
Vintage Sunburst Diamond Brooch
While in London in 1962, Jackie saw a breathtaking sunburst pin in an antique store and wanted to buy it.
But there was a problem. Its price tag was $50,000. So she quietly sold the diamond leaf brooch she got from Joe and Rose Kennedy as a wedding present (she had copies made to avoid offending her in-laws).
The sunburst brooch was originally made in the 19th century and was bought from the British Crown Jewelry, Wartski.
It looks awesome in its silver and gold setting. Jackie loved it and often wore it, attached to her Oleg Cassini gowns. One time she made a fashion statement by wearing it on top of her elegant chignon hairstyle.
Schlumberger Croisillons Bracelets
Another jewelry item by Schlumberger is the Croisillons bracelets, which JFK also purchased from Tiffany, New York in 1962.
Jackie loved to wear these to match her casual daytime outfits. Eventually, she bought more in a variety of colors to add to her collection. These did not escape notice from other women wanting to emulate Jackie. Pretty soon, the bracelets became very popular, creating a trend.
Note: In the early 1960s, Schlumberger started making these bracelets. He did this by using a certain enamel used in the 19th-century.
Cartier Tank Watch
In 1963, JFK bought Jackie a classic Cartier tank watch. Engraved at the back were these words, “To Jackie, Love Jack.”
For those not in the know, the Tank was a line of watches by Cartier SA. The tank was created in 1917 by Louis Cartier. It got its name from the Renault tanks Cartier saw on the Western Front—its lines and proportions were similar to the tanks used on the WWI battlefields.
Jackie wore it frequently during casual activities like horseback riding and sailing with other members of the family.
Van Cleef & Arpels Emerald Ring
For their 10th wedding anniversary in 1963, JFK gave Jackie a special emerald ring from Van Cleef & Arpels, New York.
Originally designed as an eternity ring, like the one in this Pompeii3 review, it had 10 emerald stones representing each year of their marriage. Jackie wore the ring next to her wedding band. A few years after JFK’s death, Jackie had two stones removed and made them into solitaire rings for both her children.
John Jr. gave his solitaire emerald ring to his bride, Carolyn Bessette. When he died, the ring was given back to Caroline Schlossberg, his sister.
In August 1963, the couple lost their newborn son, Patrick. Though devastated by the loss, the tragedy brought Jackie and Jack closer together. It did not diminish their optimism for the future; it made them stronger.
A few months later, JFK was in New York and went to Van Cleef & Arpel to order a special ring. The ring featured 47-carat kunzite stone surrounded by 20 diamonds, which he planned to give to Jackie for Christmas that year.
Kunzite is a glassy stone that is naturally pale pink in color. However, there are colorless varieties, as well as lilac, and yellowish-green. The colorless variety is also called Spodumene.
The stone is naturally flat shaped with vertical striations. JFK probably thought that the ring will bouy their spirits up after the loss of a child. Kunzites are taken to lift the wearer’s moods; heal emotional problems.
It did not work in the case of the Kennedys. Jackie never saw the ring, or get to wear it. John was assassinated in November of the same year.
Several days after the tragedy, the ring was delivered to the White House where JFK’s personal secretary, Mrs. Lincoln, received it. She, in turn, gave it to Jackie right after.
The ring is very sentimental to Jackie.
Multi-strand Faux-Pearl Necklace
Typical of most women, Jackie had an eclectic mix of necklaces, encompassing almost every style and form. She had Classical Revival to Renaissance necklaces, African and Art Nouveau.
She had several necklaces in a variety of lengths, from single-strand pearl chokers to her favorite, 17″ and 19″multi-strand faux-pearl necklace. The latter was her favorite.
This faux-pearl necklace consisted of 139. 9 – 9.5 millimeters of simulated pearls. When it was auctioned off at Sotheby’s, the auction price was between $400 – $700. The winner was Franklin Mint who bought it for $211,500. And what did Mr. Mint do with it? He has kept it on display to this day.
On the official side, Jackie Kennedy was famous for her highly-publicized restoration of the White House and her emphasis on arts and culture.
On the personal side, Jackie Kennedy’s jewelry collection was a treasure trove. She was a fashion icon. During her era, the saying, “It was Jackie’s, Who cares if it’s fake?” Whatever she wore, became fashion.
Her gems and jewels were the handicrafts of the world’s finest jewelers and craftsmen—even costume jewelry. But what is uncanny about her is that though she had many suites and matching jewelry, she usually wore only one piece at a time.
That was her fashion statement: classy, regal, yet not superfluous.
Who inherited Jackie Kennedy’s jewelry?
Her emerald ring was inherited by her daughter, Caroline, while a few are on loan at the JFK Library and Museum and the rest were auctioned off.
Indeed, Jackie Kennedy’s sophistication and fashion sense are reflected in her jewelry collection. If you’re a fan of pearls like the former First Lady, you can check out our post “Facts About Pearls: The World’s Oldest Gems.”