Thursday, March 18, 2010

Mae West: Diamond Dip

"There's nothing better in life than diamonds," MAE WEST told interviewer Charlotte Chandler. Another time, the actress remarked, "No gold-digging for me. I take diamonds! We may be off the gold standard someday." Of course, the well-known line from "Diamond Lil" is this sassy smacker: "Diamonds is my career." The star owned an abundance of what she described as her "daytime diamonds" — — and was photographed at premieres and galas lavishly bejeweled in top-shelf sparklers.
• • In the novel and the stage play Mae wrote, incarcerated Chick Clark bemoans his prison sentence, blaming Lil's unrelenting desire for diamonds on his criminal escapades. And while Chick stews in the big house, he's aware that Lil is free in New York City and flashing her diamonds daily as she sashays through Gus Jordan's Bowery saloon.
• • To see some of these at The Field Museum in Chicago — — featured in their exhibition "The Nature of Diamonds" — — you have until 28 March 2010 only.
• • Individual standouts on display include the 128.54-carat Tiffany Diamond — — one of the world's largest yellow diamonds — — and the Incomparable Diamond, which weighs 407.48 carats. In addition to decorative pieces owned by Mae West, visitors can also see gems treasured by celebrities such as Sir Elton John and Joan Crawford.
• • Their holdings include the permanent exhibit known as the Grainger Hall of Gems, which features rare jewels and gold objects from around the globe.
• • The text written by curators helpfully explains that "Diamonds are the hardest natural substance known. The key to a diamond’s strength is in its crystal structure. A diamond’s carbon atoms link to one another in a rigid, box-like shape, forming the strongest known chemical bond. It’s this bond that gives diamond its hardness — its ability to resist scratching. The only substance that can scratch a diamond is another diamond."
• • The curators have emphasized the specialness of this coveted brilliant: "Diamonds are the most brilliant colorless stone. A diamond’s intense brilliance is due to its density (the amount of atoms packed into it), which slows light and reflects it back towards the viewer. Diamonds reflect light better than any other colorless substance."
• • WHERE: The Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605-2496; Tel 312-922-9410.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • none • •
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