The below photographs say it all for Helena Rubinstein’s obsession for jewellery! She liked it big and a lot of it! Rumoured to have one of the most fabulous collections in the world, hers was not the stock standard diamonds one would find within other collections. Such was the fame of the collection that at one stage there was an attempted heist, with the thieves getting nothing but $200. (see previous post "Savoir faire with Pluck". She always wore masses of jewelry in public—especially rubies with ruby red lipstick and nail polish to match them.
Her collection was an Aladdin’s cave of the unusual, the oversized and valuable. Rubies the size of pigeon eggs vied for attention with cabochon stones of all shapes and sizes. Being so small in statue Madame relied on her jewellery to create an impact. Oversize pieces were the norm with her, which emphasised her presence, and eclipsed all other jewellery present. Combined with the simple suits she wore later in life one could not help but notice the jewellery. Necklace upon necklace was worn around her neck, while her wrists were weighed down with all manner of bracelets.
One can accuse Madame of only collecting for quantity over quality, and this to a certain extent is true. However, she had some important valuable pieces in her collection, such as a set of rubies that were rumoured to have belonged to Catherine the Great of Russia.
A great public relations trick Madame would play when entertaining the press or anybody for that matter would be to wear lots of cheaper items of jewellery. This would create an impact, that when admired by an admirer Madame would whip it off and give to the person in question saying that they must have it and that it was nothing!
At one stage she complained that the storage of the collection was giving her grief, so the story goes that her assistant bought her a filing cabinet (in the photo’s ?) and that diamonds etc were filed under the appropriate letter of the alphabet. She looks like a child sitting on the floor with her favourite toys spread all around her.