Shirley Temple’s blue diamond ring goes up for auction

Shirley Temple’s ring

A 9.54-carat blue diamond owned by the late Shirley Temple is on the auction block.

(Associated Press / Sothebey’s)

Sotheby's is pulling some nostalgic heartstrings as the auction house markets the sale of a blue diamond ring that belonged to the late Shirley Temple Black.

The child star received the 9.54-carat fancy deep blue diamond ring as a gift from her father, according to the auction house, sometime around her 12th birthday. That fell a few weeks before the release of her 1940 film "The Blue Bird." Sotheby's is calling the ring the star of its April 19 "Magnificent Jewels" auction. 

When Temple was 22 she discovered the fortune she had made in the movies -- $3.2 million, which is the equivalent of about $31 million today -- had dwindled to just $28,000. The money from hits like "Heidi" and "The Little Colonel" had gone to support her family's lavish lifestyle or was lost in poor investments made by her father, George Temple.

The ring, however, proved not to be among her father's bad moves. Sotheby's puts the jewel's pre-auction value between $25 million and $35 million. 

The birthday in question was reported in the Los Angeles Times by Hedda Hopper in 1940, but at the time Shirley and the public believed she was turning 11. Studio officials at Fox had lied about her age to make her a year younger.

"To call you five when you're really six seems silly, but they did it," she told The Times in 1949 when she turned 21. "I remember that when my mother said I was 13 -- on what I thought was my 12th birthday I felt awful. I didn't know where the year had gone. But afterward, in school, I found it was much better being in my teens that 12!"

(Associated Press)

As far as the ring?

Here's a shot of Temple wearing it at a significant event in her adult life. In 1969, she had it on her right hand as she was sworn in as a delegate for the United Nations. 

Temple went on to become the U.S. ambassador to the West African nation of Ghana from 1974 to 1976 and later served as White House chief of protocol for President Ford. She also was an ambassador to Czechoslovakia from 1989 to 1992.

Temple died two years ago at the age of 85.


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