Jolie Gabor was born in Budapest in 1894 as Jancsi Tilleman, to Francesca and Joseph Tilleman,her father was educated but penniless and her mother was from a moderately wealthy family in Vienna , they owned a chain of jewelry stores and a little property. An uncle suggested to her parents that they open a jewelry store in Budapest similar to the stores in Vienna, with the uncles help Jolie’s mother opened “The Diamond House” where a fortune was made with a clever idea, since at this time there were no cultured pearls only very expensive natural pearls, why not make very good imitation pearls to look like the real thing, so they started producing strands of faux pearls with gold, diamond, and gem stone clasps, soon the Tilleman family of Budapest was much wealthier than the family in Vienna as the jewelry was a success. During this time Budapest was a chic, thriving city, before WWII they had 8 jewelry stores across Europe, Jolie eventually took over the business and after her divorce from her first husband, Vilmos Gabor, business was very good. When the Nazis occupied Budapest in March of 1944, Jolie had to flee in the middle of the night with a few clothes and a small trunk with $200,000 worth of diamond jewelry, her homes, business and fortune was lost. Zsa Zsa and Eva were already in America starting their movie and marriage careers, daughter Magda had stayed in Budapest and worked with the “under ground” smuggling wounded soldiers out of the country, when the Nazis discovered this the Gabor family were listed as traitors, Magda eventually ended up working for the Portuguese embassy in Hungary, it was Magda’s connections that got Jolie out of Hungary and to Portugal via Switzerland, by the time Jolie arrived in Portugal her jewels were gone as they had been used as bribes and stolen. On Dec.1,1945 Jolie boarded a very old steamer ship and headed to America, on Dec.31 she arrived with Zsa Zsa and Eva waiting at the dock, she only had $100.00. Jolie remembered that her two daughters sparkled like Christmas trees with all the diamond jewelry they were wearing. Zsa Zsa was married to Conrad Hilton. Soon after she had arrived, Jolie found a tiny shop at 699 Madison Ave, her rent was $126.00 a month. With money from Zsa Zsa, Jolie bought six dozen black-a-moor pins and sword pins having read that costume jewelry was all the rage, sales were not that good and Jolie closed shop to take a vacation to California to visit her daughters, when she returned to New York City, as luck would have it an old business acquaintance from Italy passed her shop and recognized her, he was still in the jewelry business and put $50,000 worth of pearls with her on consignment, with this she began producing elaborate necklaces and bracelets, she was back in business! Her pearl boutique eventually became a jewelry store when she acquired the hat shop that was next door and she expanded, she then started to sell “replica” jewelry that she designed herself for the most part based on the Hungarian crown jewels, she knew the resources in Europe for the best faux stones and manufacturers. With such famous daughters her business was incredibly successful; she had a town house in Manhattan and an estate in Ridgefield ,CT. She enjoyed being at her store and always was happy to sign an autograph, she wrote a cook book in 1962 and her autobiography in 1975, when she wrote her autobiography she was semi-retired from the jewelry business,around 1984 Jolie sold her business to Madeleine Herling her had her own line of jewelry,"Countess Madeleine" but still used the Jolie Gabor designs. Jolie Gabor/Countess M. jewelry was sold on QVC during its first year on television which would have been in 1986 in limited quantities. The jewelry is signed in script “Jolie Gabor” and is sterling silver, sometimes vermeil, I have seen 18k gold and diamond jewelry signed Jolie Gabor, but very few pieces, with the “replica” jewelry it is almost always found in the original boxes, it was very expensive when new. I have found that dating the jewelry by style is most accurate; her older pieces seem to come in maroon velvet boxes. Most pieces have a 1960s cocktail jewelry look to them, very swanky. Jolie died on April 1, 1997 in Palm Springs . Having a collection of over 60 pieces I have seen very similar pieces being worn by her daughters in various photos from the 1960s, makes you wonder how much of the jewelry worn by the “Budapest Bombshells” was actually from Jolie’s shop, the jewelry is so good that no one would ever know if it was not the real thing. Enjoy the photos and special thanks to; Anthony Turtu & Donald Reuter- "Gaborabilia" Jolie Gabor and Cindy Adams - "Jolie Gabor as told to Cindy Adams"
Date(s): October 18, 2006. Album by Daniel Day. 1 - 18 of 41 Total. 6816 Visits.
1 Protrait of Jolie Gabor C.1975.
2 Wedding protrait Mr.and Mrs. Edmund de Szigethy c.1957
3 Fabulous Faux diamond and faux pearl bracelet in sterling, pearls are 11mm. With original box. Notice the hidden clasp.
4 Faux Diamond and sapphire bracelet, sterling. I love the hidden clasp.
5 Amazing faux diamond and emerald dangle earrings, deep rich color. Sterling setting, looks like a million bucks! Almost 3 inches long.
6 Huge faux sapphires and diamond earrongs, sterling setting. I have to say that Jolie nailed the colors for the gem colored stones.
7 Sterling setting, faux diamonds. I think Zsa Zsa has one of these.
8 Big cluster earrings, sterling setting with small hook to attach a dangle pendent, over 1 inch long.
9 My "Million Dollar Baby" 19 inches long, center stone is 1 1/2inches long, is in the original autographed pouch, this makes me weak! Absolutely the most amazing piece of jewelry I have seen, that is not "real". Jolie out did herself with this one!
10 The signed jewelry pouch, this piece came from an estate in the River Oaks section of Houston, Texas.
11 Deep, rich faux Siberian amethyst center stone with faux diamonds, sterling setting. Love the tapered baguettes.
12 Magda Gabor, c.1950s.
13 A bejeweled Zsa Zsa Gabor, C.1960's
14 Eva Gabor, C.1953. "i'll always remeber eva in the show ..." View Comments...
15 Tapered baguettes with faux sapphire that is a lighter color stone, 1 inch by 1 inch ans sites over 1/2 an inch high when worn. Original box.
16 Side view of light blue sapphire ring, very intricate construction.
17 Deep blue faux sapphire and faux diamond ring, almost 1 by 1 inches, sits 3/4 of an inch high when worn, very weighty but fantastic looking.
18 Side view of deep blue sapphire ring. Original box.
I love the Gabor designs so much. In fact, the quality and workmanship is one of the very best when it comes to costume/fashion jewelry. Being someone that is in the jewelry business, I don't often see this level of quality and thus consider it some of the finest! Will look to purchase more very soon! - Emmy | http://www.necklaceholder.com, Tue, 23 Aug 2016 9:38PM
Somewhat of a beginner at researching costume jewelry after inheriting a small jewelry box of one grandmothers jewelry. Now I've inherited another box of my other grandmothers & my Mother has given me some of hers. I've also purchased some pieces from local thrift & antique shops. I spend a big portion of my spare time online to find as many vintage jewelry websites as possible & check out Julia Carroll's Costume Jewelry books from the local library and a few others. I'm addicted to searching for the pieces I own online, & trying to find the designer/maker of my unsigned pieces. - Elizabeth Allen, Sun, 15 Feb 2015 11:52AM
I was still in my 20's when I would drive by the famed jewel salons of Uptown Manhattan after a long day on Madison Avenue. I remember Jolie Gabor Salon on Madison, such a jewel of a shop. The cab would make it's way down Fifth Avenue to Flat Iron District, past Van Cleef And Arpels and La Vielle Russie. It's only now that I work with vintage pieces and am forever grateful to those memories of a different world. To see actual Jolie Gabor on the photo gallery is amazing they're so MAGNIFICENT. - George Glass, Wed, 6 Aug 2014 3:57PM
I own several pieces of countess madeleine jewelry. I have a few sets, which nobody on the web has. Countess madeleine collection are from the 1986 qvc, in which the Jolie Gabor article explains. I also have a Jolie Gabor cocktail ring, which is gorgeous. I see you asked if anyone would sell and indeed I will. You can call me at 570-216-4867. M y name is Craig. - craig wabst, Mon, 19 May 2014 7:01AM
Hello This is a lovely site and I am pleased that other people get how special the Garbors are.I collect all things Gabor especially the jewellery.If any one ever wants to sell anything please let me know.I love it and wear it all the time. firstname.lastname@example.org - Susan Roche, Tue, 13 Sep 2011 10:31PM
Beautiful jewelry (I would be hard-pressed to choose a favorite...but the faux ruby stone earrings #29 make my heart flutter!) Jolie certainly had a fascinating life and was a gorgeous woman. It sounds like her early work was with pearls. Are they more difficult to find now? or, are the faux gemstones your preference in collecting? Thanks for pointing me to your Jolie IE! Your "Million Dollar Baby" is supreme! - Linda Vogue, Thu, 31 Mar 2011 4:22PM
I have a Jolie Gabor vintage cosmetic mirror with the old fashioned round bulbs and it still works. It's got a gold plate finish, the mirror is round, the glass is beveled and it stands about 1' high. Does anyone have any idea of its value? I can't seem to find any others and it is beautiful. The Jolie Gabor hallmark is imprinted on the bottom. - Lori Eger, Sun, 6 Mar 2011 2:42AM
I have a diamond rhinestone necklace with 5 drop pearls and earrings to match. They were purchased in June 1964 and are in a grey jewel box with Jolie Gabor name and in the mailing box with her name on it. Would like some help to find the value. Can you help? Are they authentic. Very nice set. - Wynona Hughes, Tue, 8 Feb 2011 11:56AM
Just a bit of trivia to clarify some of your confusion. A Hungarian client by the name of Countess Magdalena Herling came into the store one day and inquired about a necklace. When Jolie asked whether she would like to purchase the necklace, the client responded that she would actually like to purchase the store! And did, shortly thereafter. As it happens, I was wmployed with Jolie Gabor in the original store on Madison Ave. from 1985-1987. Countess Magdalene Herling was an absolute tyrant and extremely difficult to work for. - Jean Forman, Sat, 27 Nov 2010 9:29AM
My heart stopped and my eyes popped when I saw your million dollar baby, # 9. The Gabor sisters have always fascinated me, I am a huge fan of their beauty and glamour. Your story was fabulous, truly fascinating. I will go on the hunt to hopefully someday add a piece or two to my jewelry collection. A fabulous read, from a fabulous collector who knows major bling . Best wishes, Linda - Linda Caricofe | http://www.rubylane.com/shops/rcantiques, Sat, 11 Sep 2010 2:32PM