Madeline Astor's Necklace

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Bill Dearle

Guest
Many years ago before the "Movie" was released or even the ship herself was discovered, I was in correspondence with a lovely man who had known Madeline and the Force family. (Madeline Astor's Family) His Mother was lifelong friends with Madeline's older sister. In one of his many letter he wrote me, this man talked about letters that Madeline wrote to her Sister during her honeymoon. This man did not have a lot of information because all of this was second hand from Madeline's sister to his mother. However, in one of these letters home, Madeline mentions a "wedding gift" of a necklace that was given to her by her husband John Jacob Astor IV. The Necklace is described as being made up of hundreds of diamonds and an huge blue sapphire. This gentleman has since passed away but always told me he believed it was made specially for Madeline and was purchased in France and made by Cartier in 1911 or 1912. I do not know if this is speculation or if he actually this for a fact. Although as a child he remembers his family often talking about and joking about this necklace and how that one diamond alone on the necklace would end there financials troubles. (in reality they had no real money problems, or so it seems) So maybe he knew what he was talking about.

With that said he never knew if the Necklace made if off the boat that night. His mother wanted to see the necklace the second she heard of it but felt she was in no position to ask Madeline or Madeline's sister. In the last five or six years since the film came out I have had a renewed interest to search for the REAL NECKLACE! I have E-Mailed, Called and Written Cartier but have received no respond except for "huge sale" e-mails. Can anybody help me or does anybody have any information. I would appreciate anything.
 
May 12, 2005
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Hi, Bill:

I'm not sure about a diamond and sapphire necklace as a wedding gift but it makes sense as the press was full of mentions of Madeline being showered with jewels by J.J.

An extensive article about Madeline in a popular women's magazine claimed that her engagement ring was a $25,000 diamond solitaire and that she afterwards received a sapphire ring, a diamond-studded watch, a diamond hairpin and various hair ornaments set with diamonds.

Her Christmas gift from J.J. had been a $250,000 pearl necklace which he had asked his sister, Mrs. M. Orme Wilson, to select. As the Astors sailed for Europe on the Olympic on Jan. 24, it is likely Madeline had that lovely bauble with her. In which case, it would have been with her on Titanic and apparently lost as, I imagine, was most, if not all, of her jewelry. It is possible she saved some as did several other women, including Eleanor Widener and Lucy Duff Gordon.

The article does not mention anything about the necklace you were told of but that doesn't mean it wasn't one of her wedding gifts. Maybe someone else here has more information.

Best regards,
Randy
 
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Joshua Doyle Tift

Guest
Does anyone have a list of the jewels that she lost and filed a claimed for. It would be most helpful in learning all that she had. Thanks JT.
 
Apr 11, 2001
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What a captivating idea for a book-Titanic Jewelry. If the success of the book on the Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor is any indication, there's an eager reading market out there for both fashions of 1912 aboard and the jewels of the celebrated First Class ladies. There was so much excitement in seeing the little necklaces and rings which were saved and restored from the wreck. Madeleine's grandaughter's in-law's are members of my church-I will ask about the wedding pearls and necklace Sunday, it is possible and highly likely Jackie received some of the family heirlooms.
 
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Joshua Doyle Tift

Guest
Dear Lady Dziedzic thanks for such a nice letter. I wish a book would be written about the jewels that were lost. Please let me know what you find out. I do need to make one thing clear. I do not like the artifacts being raised but cant help but wonder what jewels still lie at the wreck site. I am torn between two sides. I feel for the victims and those who survived but yet the jewels of first class are hard to pass up. Thanks for responding to my question and for being so nice. Your are a true lady. Have a good day. Thanks Joshua Doyle Tift.
 
Apr 11, 2001
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Joshua, you are not alone in your feelings, or being torn between two sides. The salvage issue will never cease to arouse strong feelings-my own point of view having changed with time. The old Victorians were a sentimental bunch, wearing jewelry made of the deceased person's hair, photos of their likenesses in mourning lockets, and all manner of elaborate reminders of their loved one departed, not to mention the wearing of black for long periods. Queen Victoria would not allow a single thing changed in Prince Albert's rooms because seeing his things as they were gave her comfort and brought the living man to mind whenever she saw his possessions daily. I have seen and held items saved from the wreckage-and find the poignant ordinariness of everyday possessions reassuring that these were people just like us, going about their daily lives with hopes and aspirations, not dreaming of the tragedy ahead or their future outcome in history. Whether holding Louise Pope's little shoe, Mrs. Astor's shawl used to wrap Philly Aks, Edy Russell's musical pig, or the little lucky star pendant necklace and the sapphire and diamond ring-some went down with the ship and were saved by salvaging many years later, -some were worn or carried off with the ship on the night of the sinking. They all speak of the people to me, just as a photograph or letter would do- and as Shelley Winters says in The Poseidon Adventure - "Life matters very much"-. Mourning should be for the lives lost, the grieving is for the Dead. Plates and silverware, bits of jewelry and personal items both which went down or were carried off in lifeboats- and even the ship itself are only replaceable things, as much as we mind the loss of their beauty and elegance- in the end only rust and dust. I hope I am not entirely alone in these sentiments, and I believe in fifty years someone else will look into a glass case in a museum somewhere and think about those people and that night in 1912. I have always liked the French meaning for "souvenir"- for some it means a bit of cheap junk picked up on vacation. The true meaning is something that is seen which brings to mind again (to revisit or come again) a place, a memory or a person. That's not a bad thing.
 
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Joshua Doyle Tift

Guest
Lady Dziedzic,
Thanks again for a nice letter. Its nice to know that I am not the only one with these feelings. I put myself in the passengers shoes. I never had a father around. My grandfather was the only father figure I had. Yes we did fight a lot but we were very close. I know for a fact that if my family had been on the Titanic I could have never left my grandfather and I would have chose to go down with him regardless of the fact I could not swim or if there was a life boat for me I would not take it. I wish that the personal effects that have been recovered were returned to the family that it belonged too if that was possible. I know that it is not. But yet if a watch or a ring that my grandfather had was recovered I would want it returned to me. I quess the reason why I don't like the artifacts being raised is becouse I have read in the papers that the R.M.S. TITANIC INC. Whants to sell a lot of the artifacts off. I fell that the collection should stay no matter what they find together for the world to see and not sold to a private collector never to be seen again. Plus I have also heard that some of the artifacts have been stolen. If this was going to happen I wish they never found Titanic at all. The artifacts should be all together never split up. The collection has only been to Kansas once I wish it would come back. I don't mean to go on about it. I just like speacking my mind. If I have made anyone ticked off I am sorry. I am just being honest.Thank you and have a good weekend. Josh