Two Sisters+Classic Hollywood=One Hell Of A Good Time

The Lombard Ring

Whenever I have a pressing Gable-related question, I always run to the expert: the incredibly knowledgeable Meredith of dearmrgable.com. This time, I asked her about Carole Lombard’s ring. If you don’t know the backstory, here goes:

After Carole died, Clark commissioned expensive searches for Carole’s wedding ring, which went on until Clark himself passed away. He offered a gigantic reward for whoever found it and returned it to him. However, the ring was never found and no one knows what became of it. Was it stolen? Or is it still missing? I asked Meredith how exactly did her wedding ring look like.

As usual, she gave more interesting information than I asked for, but I’m not complaining! I  learned that the ring was just a plain gold wedding band. No engagement ring. According to Meredith, Clark NEVER gave any of his wives engagement rings. I really want ot say that it’s because he’s a notorious tightwad, but again, I don’t know and I never will.

So, what became of Carole’s wedding band? NOBODY KNOWS! This is the reason why this story appeals to me so much: it reads like a romantic detective story.

One of my favorite photos of Clark and Carole. You can see the wedding band on the ring finger of her left hand

I’ve always had an ugly feeling that Lombard’s ring was stolen by someone selfish. The truth is, Lombard’s left hand was lost in the horrific plane explosion which  claimed her life. Did someone find the ring and keep it for themself or sell it to a collector? Most likely. Gold is not exactly hard to miss, and hikers have been trekking through the crash site (which, by the way, STILL has the leftover debris from the crash) for many years. (Sickening Sidenote; I’ve read somewhere that maybe Lombard’s LEFT HAND was stolen, with the ring on it. I don’t think ANYONE could be that psychotic!) But maybe the ring melted in the explosion.I have no idea; I am no scientist. Lombard was wearing thousands of dollars in jewelry when she died, and all that was recovered from it were warped pieces of two ruby clips that Clark gave her for Christmas. Gable placed those pieces, and a lock of her hair,  in a locket, which he always wore. Other pieces of jewelry that Lombard wore when she died was a V for Victory brooch (on her hat):

  and a ruby heart locket. Meredith told me that romantics believe the locket melted into her flesh. Um. Okay. I also read that the ruby clips melted into her heart. Um. Okay. Again.

 

Meredith sent me this photo of Lombard wearing the ruby clips. They are on her dress.

What do you think happened to Carole Lombard’s wedding ring?

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29 responses

  1. charlene

    oh my god the pictures were amazing :) :) :) some id never i=even seen before and ive been a fan of both carole lombard and clark gable since i was a kid im now 30 and love them more than ever :) some of the photos did bring a tear to my eye because they were so in love and it just wasnt fair :( thank you for putting them on thank you xxxx

    February 17, 2011 at 10:29 am

    • Thank you so much for the lovely comment! It is always a pleasure to speak with people who appreciate classic Hollywood like you do. Hopefully this blog can inspire others to see the wonderful qualities exhibited in the Gable/Lombard romance!

      February 17, 2011 at 2:27 pm

  2. Carole Sampeck

    Actually, the ring wasn’t gold — it was platinum, which was the fashionable metal for upscale jewelry at the time (as it is now!). The ring was never found. After seeing what the incredible heat from the fire did to melt the plane, I’m sure that the ring ended up an unrecognizable blob. That business about someone stealing CL’s left hand is ghoulish nonsense. The very few times that anything even having a vague possibility of being human remains has surfaced (small bone chips or fragments and so on), they have been reburied immediately, with a prayer.

    One small mangled piece of one of the ruby clips was the only part of those found.

    The clasp to the gold bangle bracelet she was wearing was recovered, and is in a private museum collection.

    Carole was NOT wearing the ruby locket on this trip. It was located in her jewelry box at home, and was listed in her estate inventory during the probate process. Don’t know where the legend about the necklace originated — she simply did not have it with her on the bond tour!

    Hope this clears a few things up –

    Carole Sampeck
    The Carole Lombard Archive
    lombard@aol.com

    June 4, 2012 at 11:41 am

    • I have to disagree with Sampeck’s comment about Carole’s wedding band being made of Platinum. As someone who has interviewed Otto Winkler’s wife and who was a friend of Gable and Lombard, the ring was a simple band, but made of Gold and was probably 18kt. Also, even though the post crash fire was hot enough to melt aluminum it was not hot enough to melt Gold or Platinum as the melting temperature for these precious metals is much higher.

      It is true that the bracelet clasp was recovered as I was there when it was. Also, her Gold monogram that was attached to her handbag, another one of her Gold rings, and the emerald-cut ruby stone from another ring was recovered and archived in private collection. These items have all been verified by photograph of her having worn them during the War Bond Tour.

      September 12, 2012 at 12:10 pm

  3. Thanks so much for that, it really cleared up a lot!

    June 4, 2012 at 8:08 pm

  4. Carole

    Respectfully, Wreckchaser, I must disagree with you about the wedding ring. My info came from Jean Garceau, who helped make the arrangements for Clark with Van Cleef and Arpels for the purchase, just as was done with the ruby-diamond clips – also from there, also in platinum. Jean did say that Carole had copies of some of her pieces made for travel purposes — my understanding is that the ruby-colored stone (I’m familiar with your story) was one of those “travel jewelry” pieces.

    September 13, 2012 at 11:28 am

  5. Wreckchaser? Haven’t heard that name in a long time. Figured my nemesis Robb Hill with his “work” would be the one to retain that distinction. My info was based on my interview with the former Mrs. Winkler and the various color photographs that show the ring and the clips bearing a gold colored metal? so I am not sure about Platinum. Might be worth checking with VC&A design archives to verify. The monogram located at the site was tested at 18kt gold. As for the ruby colored stone “travel jewelry” it is the same design and size of the one she had with her on the bond tour as well as in many PR photos and film. It was tested by the GIA as a fine synthetic stone. Interesting information about having travel jewelry made. Might explain the intentional gouges made in the back of the stone. Still a nice piece on the surface.

    September 19, 2012 at 1:47 am

    • Carole

      Mike, the Wreckchaser reference comes from a transaction I had with you on eBay years and years ago — re a copy of the CAB report.

      Re the metal on clips and wedding band — definitely platinum, per Van Cleef & Arpels records. Used to have a contact there, but they’ve since departed this planet and entered The Great Beyond, unfortunately before I could get a copy of the designer’s notes on the clips (which VCA still has!). She certainly did have a lot of yellow gold pieces, and I’m familiar with the monogram tag — she liked that sort of thing, and had quite a few of them. Some were monogram, some were her first name spelled out.

      If I recall the pics from Chicago, CL had a pair of little ruby earrings which were done in yellow gold (screwback) which she wore in the Tribune color photos. If you can get a copy of the rotogravures from that visit (two were published, but I only have one of them) you can see the clips quite clearly and close-up — and it’s definitely white metal on the clips.

      Yes, I thought the travel jewelry information was quite interesting too!

      Jill W. was a lovely lady, and I always thought Clark handled all that business very badly.

      September 19, 2012 at 11:22 am

  6. Hi Carole:

    Let me know if you ever need a copy of the “Full” accident report. Its the expanded version of the standard CAB Report.

    VCA of course is very protective of their clientele, living and passed so it will be difficult to get details. I am wondering if the clips were specially made for Carole? and also what was the design specifically? It appears to be a comet or shooting star.

    I also wonder what the cost would be today to re-create the two Ruby/Diamond Clips using the same materials from VCA.

    September 21, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    • Carole

      Gosh, Mike, when I purchased the CAB report from you years ago, I had understood from you that it WAS the Full accident report! Hmm…

      September 23, 2012 at 12:59 pm

      • I have found that there are actually two CAB reports. The one I use to sell on eBay years ago is a complete report and is available now days online through the DOT website.

        A couple of years ago a friend of mine located in the National Archives a microfiche file report on the accident that contains hundreds of pages that cover details not included in the original CAB Report offered to the public. I have made a couple copies for close friends, but it’s not something I would offer on eBay. Way too much weekend foot traffic at the crash site these days.

        September 23, 2012 at 1:56 pm

  7. Carole

    Wow! Any surprises contained therein?

    September 23, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    • Carole,

      Being that is an expanded report of the CAB Report, it covers minute details of subject material found in the standard CAB Report. Topics like: witness statements, depositions, details on the pilot’s experience, weight and balance of the aircraft, passenger seat assignments, accident scene diagrams..etc. I found it interesting that Carole and her party were not seated near the front of the passenger cabin like many stories mention, but rather in the mid-part of the cabin. Not a lot of surprises, but some details of the flight that are not mentioned in popular media of the accident.

      The NTSB today does the same type of report with accidents. They will first issue a preliminary report and then a summary report and then after the investigation concludes, will issue a final report of the accident. The expanded report takes all the information collected during the investigation and combines it into a single report. I have seen some recent expanded reports of accidents that have literally thousands of pages.

      September 24, 2012 at 1:43 pm

  8. By the way: Always wondered what the story was behind the “Victory Pin” she wore on her hat during the War Bond Tour. Was that also a gift from Clark made by Van Cleef and Arpels?

    September 24, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    • Carole Sampeck

      No, the V-For-Victory pin was something she did on her own — have not found out where. Clark wasn’t that big a patriot in those days.

      September 24, 2012 at 4:35 pm

      • Too bad that some of the answers to many questions about Lombard will probably never be answered. Very few still around that actually remember her. Has the Lombard Archive ever gone online to share the collection? Seems like a good way to share with others items and documents about Carole that are in your collection.

        September 26, 2012 at 6:04 pm

  9. Carole

    Mike, may I take you up on your offer of a copy of the FULL report? Doing a bit of research here, and it surely would be a great help. Please write me directly, either on FaceBook, or at: lombard@aol.com

    Looking for witness statements, and so on.

    Also, if you can, might you forward me copies of the photos of the monogram, etc., which were recovered? .jpg files will be just fine –

    Please do let me know.

    Thanks so much!

    October 29, 2012 at 12:40 pm

  10. Cyndi R.

    All this is very interesting. Is there any more info other than what has been posted here?

    January 12, 2013 at 2:39 pm

  11. Carole

    Well, Cyndi, not a lot has changed, considering it’s been decades since the incident, but The Carole Lombard Archive Foundation, a registered 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Corporation, is always hopeful and optimistic that information and memorabilia will surface. Donations of memorabilia are now fully tax-deductible, which is something not previously possible, so we are hoping that estates will embrace placement of Lombard-related items with the Archive. We continue our work of investigating intriguing leads, learning about Carole Lombard the woman, the patriot, the friend, the performer — with the help of fans, collectors, friends.

    Thanks –

    Carole Sampeck, Conservator
    The Carole Lombard Archive Foundation
    lombard@aol.com

    January 13, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    • Faro

      Is there a way to view materials in the Lombard Archive?

      October 6, 2013 at 1:28 pm

  12. Marydefazio

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    April 24, 2013 at 6:11 am

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  18. Kimberly

    Hi, I have read a lot about Carol and wonder if anyone knows the answer to these questions, that continue to vary with different answers over the internet. First is Carol’s actual shoe size. Some say 4 1/2 which is really unatural. Looking at pictures, there is no way that would be accurate. Also, I read that she was a size 21 (stated by Mrs. Sylvia, excercize guru) when she met Carole, but I later discovered that in those days, the sizes were not as they are today. So size 21 of that day would be a 8 of today. And after Ms. Sylvias workout plan, Carole became in the range of todays size of 4 through 6. So I am wondering if anyone has heard of shoe sizes being changed over the years. Additionally, I read a certified DMV record that stated her sworn height to be 5 foot 6. There is a lot of verbage on the internet that says she was 5 foot 4. Does anyone have a truly accurate answer too the three questions?

    November 1, 2013 at 1:35 am

  19. Kimberly

    Hi, I have read a lot about Carol and wonder if anyone knows the answer to these questions, that continue to vary with different answers over the internet. First is Carol’s actual shoe size. Some say 4 1/2 which is really unatural. Looking at pictures, there is no way that would be accurate. Also, I read that she was a size 21 (stated by Mrs. Sylvia, excercize guru) when she met Carole, but I later discovered that in those days, the sizes were not as they are today. So size 21 of that day would be a 8 of today. And after Ms. Sylvias workout plan, Carole became in the range of todays size of 4 through 6. So I am wondering if anyone has heard of shoe sizes being changed over the years. Additionally, I read a certified DMV record that stated her sworn height to be 5 foot 6. There is a lot of verbage on the internet that says she was 5 foot 4. Does anyone have a truly accurate answer too the three questions?

    November 1, 2013 at 1:36 am

    • Hi Kimberley! Even though clothing sizes have changed throughout the years, shoe sizes have remained pretty much the same. It does seem very unnatural, but these actresses actually did have really small feet. It was much more common back then. I realized this when I went to Grauman’s and saw the footprints of the great female Hollywood stars. Their feet were TINY.

      November 16, 2013 at 9:15 am

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