Tag Archives: Claudette Colbert

“Diving for Starfish” is a 14-karat mystery, wrapped among the rich and famous and 71 cabochon rubies and 241 amethysts

It’s a fascinating read, a sparkling mystery wrapped in the world of the super-rich and priceless jewels. Literally. In Diving for Starfish: The Jeweler, the Actress, the Heiress, and One of the World’s Most Alluring Pieces of Jewelry (St. Martin’s Press, 26.99), Cherie Burns takes readers on a search for a dazzling, elusive starfish pin—one of the most coveted pieces of jewelry in the world. 

Created in the early 1930’s by a young designer in the workroom of the famous Parisian jeweler Boivin, the starfish pin was distinctive because its five rays were articulated, meaning that they could curl and conform to the bustline or shoulder of the women who wore it. The House of Boivin crafted only three of these gold starfish, each one encrusted with 71 cabochon rubies and 241 small amethysts. The women who were able to capture the rare starfish were as fabulous as the pin itself.

Millicent Rogers, socialite and fashion icon, and Claudette Colbert, Hollywood leading lady, were two of the women adorned by one of the three pins that exist today. Obsessed with the pin after she saw it in the private showroom of a Manhattan jewelry merchant, Burns set off on a journey to find out all she could about the elusive pins and the women who owned them. Her search took her around the world to Paris, London, New York and Hollywood.

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Millicent Rogers wearing her starfish brooch.

Both a history of fine jewelry coming out of Paris in the Golden Age and a tour through the secretive world of high-end, privately-sold jewelry, Diving for Starfish is a stylish detective story with a glittering piece of jewelry and the equally dazzling women who loved them.