Marilyn Monroes Engagement Ring: A Complicated Girl with Simple Jewelry

Marilyn Monroes Engagement Ring and Wedding: Many people would assume that Marilyn Monroe owned many jewelry boxes full of diamonds, pearls, and gemstones. It's true that she got to wear a lot of these things--being a big Hollywood screen start and sex symbol, she was often given jewelry to wear on loan at no cost by jewelers who wanted to use her for promotional ends. So she got to look great for free and they got free advertising.

But the truth is, Marilyn Monroe only ever owned two pieces of authentic high-class jewelry, and both of those were gifts from her husband Joe DiMaggio. One was a 16-inch Akoya necklace, a strand of 44 Mikimoto pearls from Japan, which he bought her on their honeymoon. The other was her diamond and platinum Eternity Band that she was given by Joe on their wedding day (which started an "eternity" that would last all of nine months). This sparkling, fiery, regal ring, which was both Marilyn's engagement and wedding ring at the same time, held 35 (some say 36) baguette-cut diamonds (cut in the form of a narrow rectangle). In 1999, Christie's auctioned off this ring for $772,500 even though it was missing one of the diamonds. Its estimate price pre-auction: $30,000 to $50,000.

Incidentally, the necklace was given to Marilyn's friend Paula Strasberg, wife of her mentor and acting coach Lee Strasberg, after her divorce from Joe; Paula's daughter Susan returned it to Mikimoto in 1998 and it's been on display ever since.

Marilyn and Joe had dated for two years. Then, on January 12, 1954, Joe proposed to Marilyn, and a few days later they went to San Francisco's City Hall to get married in a secret, intensely private ceremony to which they only invited six guests. But someone leaked news of this even to the press, and instead of just six guests more than a hundred adoring fans, journalists, and photographers showed up to the ceremony. Marilyn was dressed in a simple chocolate gown, while Joe sentimentally wore the same tie as on their first date along with a simple blue suit.

All of the other jewelry Marilyn Monroe ever owned was just costume jewelry. She always remained a simple gal named Norma Jean Mortenson in her heart.