100th Anniversary of Titanic Tragedy Puts Spotlight on the ‘Heart of the Ocean’ Necklace

Yesterday marked the 100-year anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, a tragedy immortalized by the 1997 blockbuster film, Titanic, which was just re-released in 3D and has surpassed $2 billion at the box office.

Fans may remember that the Heart of the Ocean was the heart-shaped blue diamond necklace that Kate Winslet as Rose wore when she was having her portrait drawn by Leonardo di Caprio, playing Jack, in one of the movie’s most memorable scenes. The ill-fated lovers are separated in the icy waters of the North Atlantic, as Rose is saved but Jack is lost.

At the end of the film, a 100-year-old Rose, played by Gloria Stuart, is recruited by treasure hunters looking to return to the scene of the tragedy. At night, Rose goes to the stern of the ship and opens her hands to reveal the necklace, which she has kept all of her life. She lets the necklace fall from her hand and into the water, sending it back to the Titanic.

Although the blue diamond in the movie was fictional, many believe that director James Cameron was inspired by an actual Titanic love story. According to an account by WashingtonTimes.com, it turns out that there was a diamond and sapphire necklace on board that fatal night, given to a young girl, Kate Florence Phillips, 20, by her married paramour, Henry Samuel Morley, 40.

Phillips had been an assistant to Morley in one of his London confectionery shops, and the two were secretly sailing on the Titanic as second class passengers to begin a new life together in America.

On the tragic night of April 15, 1912, as the couple left their cabin and scrambled to the lifeboat area, Morley had quickly put the necklace around his lover’s neck. Phillips was saved when she got into Lifeboat No. 11, where she would spend the next eight hours. Morley was lost to the sea.

Phillips lived in New York after the rescue, but then returned to England after four months when she had discovered that she was pregnant with Morley’s child. The baby, Ellen Mary, was born on January 11, 1913. Kate later remarried.

When Ellen was grown, she worked for years trying to have Henry Morley’s name added to her birth certificate, but she was never successful. The sapphire necklace, named “The Love of the Sea,” was a highlight of a Titanic display in Belfast for some years, but when Ellen fell on hard times in the 1990s, she sold the necklace to a buyer in Florida, who still possesses it. Ellen died in 2005 in Worcester, England.

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