James Cameron’s 1997 film Titanic was as much about a necklace as it was about the tragedy that befell the luxury liner and its passengers. The story begins in 1996 when treasure hunter Brock Lovett and his team were searching the wreckage of RMS Titanic. They were looking for a diamond necklace known as the Heart of the Ocean. Instead of finding the necklace, they pulled a safe out of the wreckage. Inside the safe was a drawing of a nude young woman wearing what looks like the Heart of the Ocean.
In another part of the world, an old woman was watching the news and saw a footage of Lovett’s discovery. She asked her granddaughter contact Lovett’s team. She said she was Rose Dawson Calvert (Gloria Stuart) and she was the young woman in the drawing. Aboard Lovett’s vessel, she told the story about the necklace, the ship and its tragic end.
In her narration (told in a lengthy flashback), the necklace came to her possession when she was 17 (the younger Rose was played by Kate Winslet) when it was given to her as an engagement gift by her fiancé, Caledon Hockley (Billy Zane). According to Caledon, it was called Le Cœur de la Mer and was originally owned by King Louis XVI of France.
In reality, of course, Louis XVI never owned the Le Cœur de la Mer because it never existed. He did, however, own the Hope Diamond which he inherited from his father, Louis XV, who inherited it from his own father, Louis XIV, who bought it as a crudely cut triangular stone weighing 112 carats from Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, a gem merchant. Tavernier acquired the large blue diamond (by purchase or theft, it is not clear) in India between 1640 and 1667.
Just for reference and to point out that the Heart of the Ocean was unmistakably inspired by the Hope Diamond, see the photos above and below.
In James Cameron’s Titanic, Rose didn’t care much for her fiancé. She was just being forced by her mother to marry him because he was rich while her father’s death had left them in debt. In her desperation, she tried to jump off the ship but was saved by a passenger from the third class, Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio).
I haven’t met a lot of people who don’t know how the story went but, if you’re among those who haven’t seen the film, Rose and Jack fell in love. When Rose found out that Jack was a budding artist, she invited him to her cabin and posed for him wearing nothing but the Heart of the Ocean.
The Edwardian-style Heart of the Ocean necklace that Rose (Kate Winslet) wore in Titanic was a piece of prop that consisted of cubic zirconia set in white gold. It was recreated in 1998 by its original designer, Asprey & Garrard, featuring a blue sapphire cut from a 174-carat triangle from Sri Lanka. It was specifically created to be auctioned off. The late Princess of Wales, Diana, was a frequent shopper at Asprey and the jeweler “felt extremely distressed when we heard of her tragic death earlier last year and we want to do anything we could to raise money for some important funds and causes in her memory.” The sapphire-and-diamond necklace was sold in Beverly Hills at an auction for the benefit of the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund and Southern California’s Aid For AIDS for $1.4M to an unidentified buyer.