The blue diamond once belonging to “America’s Little Darling” will be up for auction next month.
A 9.54-carat fancy deep blue, potentially internally flawless, VVS2 clarity diamond ring long owned by Shirley Temple is leading Sotheby’s April 19 auction of Magnificent Jewels in New York.
The stone is expected to sell for $25 million to $35 million.
Temple’s father bought the ring for his daughter for $7,210 in early 1940, around the time of her 12th birthday as well as the premiere of her film The Blue Bird. According to Sotheby’s, the movie might have inspired his purchase of a blue diamond more than the stone’s perceived rarity or value, as colored diamonds were not as coveted at the time as they are in today’s market.
Born on April 23, 1928, Temple rose quickly to stardom and became an American icon. After being discovered by Fox Films songwriter Jay Gorney and offered a role in Stand Up and Cheer! (1934) she began her rise to fame during the Great Depression.
She appeared in a number of other films but eventually started taking on roles of a new type when she was named U.S. delegate to the 24th U.N. General Assembly by President Richard Nixon in 1969.
Temple served in a few other similar positions after that as well--President Gerald Ford appointed her U.S. Ambassador to Ghana in 1974 and later the first woman chief of protocol of the United States, while President George Bush Sr. named her U.S. Ambassador to Czechoslovakia from 1989 to 1992.
The cushion-cut blue diamond remained in Temple’s collection until her death in 2014 and will be offered in its original Art Deco-inspired setting.
In November, Sotheby’s set a new world auction price record for any diamond or gemstone when it sold the Blue Moon of Josephine, a 12.03-carat fancy vivid blue diamond, for $48.5 million.
“It’s remarkable to have one stone illustrate the dramatic shift in attitude towards colored diamonds over the course of the last century,” said Gary Schuler, co-chairman of Sotheby’s Jewelry, Americas. “Today we recognize these stones as the definition of rarity, and they are eagerly sought-after in our current market for that very reason. The Shirley Temple Blue in particular has a traditional cushion cut that gives it a certain softness, charm and personality, and its saturated, fancy deep blue color imbues it with a mesmerizing oceanic quality.”