The Unsolved Mystery of Marilyn’s ‘Placeholder’ Ring

Writing for Vogue, Emily Chan ponders the riddle of Marilyn’s engagement ring from Joe DiMaggio. (You can also read a more detailed account via the Marilyn Monroe Collection blog.)

“Marilyn Monroe was famous for her bombshell style … It’s perhaps surprising, then, that her engagement ring from baseball star Joe DiMaggio was relatively pared back compared to the glamorous looks the actor was so closely associated with. Featuring 36 baguette-cut diamonds, the platinum ring was an eternity band design – a chic yet understated style that was also sported by the likes of Audrey Hepburn and Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy back in the day.

The story doesn’t end there though: while Monroe’s platinum engagement ring was later sold at a Christie’s auction for a staggering $772,500 (£636,000) in 1999 [and later resold at Profiles in History for $516,000], the actor was actually believed to be wearing a different ring at her courthouse wedding in San Francisco in 1954. According to collector Scott Fortner, this original diamond engagement ring may have been a DiMaggio family heirloom that was used as a placeholder for the wedding day, but little is known about its origins, or indeed, where it is now.

It’s not the only impromptu wedding ring that was given to Monroe. When she wedded Arthur Miller in New York in 1956 (sadly, her marriage to DiMaggio was short-lived), the playwright gave her a 22-carat-gold wedding ring that had belonged to his mother, Augusta, as the Cartier design that he had ordered didn’t arrive in time.

Nonetheless, it’s Monroe’s diamond eternity band from DiMaggio that will go down in the history books. ‘The eternity ring, a precious metal band set with a continuous line of identical gemstones, represents eternal love, making it the perfect choice as an engagement ring,’ says Rachel Garrahan, British Vogue’s jewellery director.”

Marilyn’s eternity ring from Joe DiMaggio