Gal Gadot’s Cleopatra is set to look very different - but what jewellery might she wear?

Sarah Royce-Greensill
·4 min read
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton - API/GAMMA/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton - API/GAMMA/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Gal Gadot is set to embrace the role of Cleopatra, to retell her story “through women’s eyes”. And according to historians, she should look nothing like the braided, smoky-eyed seductress associated with the Queen of Egypt since Elizabeth Taylor portrayed her in the 1963 film. 

Apparently there’s flimsy evidence to support the idea that Cleopatra was an astonishingly beautiful temptress who bathed in milk and dissolved her pearls in vinegar. While Gadot, along with Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins and screenwriter Laeta Kalogridis, separate the myths from reality, what magpies are most concerned with is: what does it mean for her jewellery?

Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra in the 1963 film -  Film Stills
Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra in the 1963 film - Film Stills

The image of Liz Taylor swathed in gold, from the tips of her braids to an array of gleaming bib necklaces, chandelier earrings, bangles, belts and hair jewels, is seared on our collective memory.

Perhaps it’s because the film was the most expensive Hollywood picture ever produced at the time, costing $44 million; or because it was where the scandalous Taylor-Burton love affair began, but Cleopatra has become shorthand for excess. 

Elizabeth Taylor Cleopatra - Silver Screen Collection/Archive Photos/Getty Images
Elizabeth Taylor Cleopatra - Silver Screen Collection/Archive Photos/Getty Images

While almost all of the pieces Taylor wore on screen were costume jewellery, away from the film set, Burton would go on to lavish her with enough properly precious jewellery to rival the Queen of the Nile’s imagined collection.

There was the 68-carat pear-cut diamond known as the Taylor-Burton diamond, the 33.19-carat Krupp diamond, the emerald and diamond Bulgari brooch that he gave her on their engagement, the matching necklace on their wedding day, and lashings more. 

Elizabeth Taylor flashing the 33-carat Krupp diamond, a gift from Richard Burton - Newspapers/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Elizabeth Taylor flashing the 33-carat Krupp diamond, a gift from Richard Burton - Newspapers/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

He famously quipped ‘I introduced Liz to beer and she introduced me to Bulgari’, and the clandestine couple would often sneak into Bulgari's Via Condotti store via a hidden entrance. Taylor’s penchant for the Italian jewellery house was evident on the set of Cleopatra: she was photographed wearing a gold and diamond Serpenti watch, an image that helped to propel the design to fame.

But what does all this mean for Gal Gadot? She’s no stranger to embracing bling for a role. Her Wonder Woman swaps her magic, bullet-deflecting cuffs for a single Bone Cuff by Elsa Peretti for Tiffany & Co when off-duty: an iconic design by a superhero of the jewellery world.

Gal Gadot wearing the 128-carat Tiffany Yellow Diamond in Death on the Nile
Gal Gadot wearing the 128-carat Tiffany Yellow Diamond in Death on the Nile

And in Death on the Nile, the Agatha Christie murder mystery set to be released this December, much of the action revolves around a stonking yellow diamond worn by Gadot’s character - a replica of the 128-carat Tiffany Yellow diamond last seen around Lady Gaga’s neck at the 2019 Oscars.

Gadot has worn Tiffany & Co regularly on the red carpet, and if her on-screen association with the house continues, there is plenty her modern-day Cleopatra might covet. With a female-focused cast and crew, it makes sense that they might look to a female designer such as the legendary Elsa Peretti, whose designs for Tiffany include slinky snake earrings and rings. 

Elsa Peretti® Mesh bib necklace
Elsa Peretti® Mesh bib necklace

18kt gold and tumbled emerald Elsa Peretti® Mesh bib necklace, £33,000, Tiffany & Co

Too obvious? Fabric-like gold mesh bibs are a contemporary take on Taylor’s gold capes: these come studded with diamonds, or strung with a tumbled emerald, a nod to Cleopatra’s love for the verdant green stones. (Although some experts believe that Cleopatra’s beloved ‘emeralds’ were, in fact peridots - and let’s not even get started on the improbable story that the Queen of Egypt discovered an enormous emerald and had it split in two, giving half to Mark Antony...)

Azza Fahmy Eye of Horus earrings
Azza Fahmy Eye of Horus earrings

18kt gold and sterling silver Eye of Horus earrings, £1,070, Azza Fahmy

Or perhaps the costume designers might look to an Egyptian jeweller - such as the indefatigable Azza Fahmy, who was the first woman permitted within the all-male goldsmiths’ bazaar in Cairo, and who founded her eponymous brand in the early 1970s. Still helmed by Fahmy, along with her two daughters, designs are influenced by art, architecture and literature, and are rife with Egyptian symbolism. 

Ornately engraved pieces featuring scarabs, lotus flowers and the Eye of Horus, or a vast, armour-like Pharaonic bib necklace would lend Gadot's Cleopatra a toughness far removed from her frivolous reputation.

Harwell Godfrey earrings
Harwell Godfrey earrings

18kt yellow gold, emerald, onyx, diamond and pearl Cleopatra's Vault earrings, £POA (from 9 November), Harwell Godfrey

Regardless of its historical accuracy, our contemporary concept of the Egyptian Queen proves a constant source of inspiration for jewellers. Next month, San Francisco-based Harwell Godfrey will launch a collection named Cleopatra’s Vault, featuring geometric earrings of emerald, onyx and diamonds, trimmed with pearls. Cooler, more contemporary and more pared-back than anything in Taylor’s collection, they’d suit the modern-day Queen of the Nile just fine.

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