Rafael NadalAP

To lose one jewel-encrusted watch, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness. Rafael Nadal's £250,000 watch went missing this week - for the second time - but he got it back.

Hours after the tennis superstar beat world number one Novak Djokovic and made history by winning his seventh French Open title, Rafa's watch was nicked from his hotel room.
The expensive timepiece had been lent to Nadal by luxury watchmaker Richard Mille for the French Open. Mille must have rejoiced at the free publicity this theft generated, especially as there was a happy ending.

Police soon tracked down the thief, a 38-year-old hotel barman, through the magnetic key card he used to get into the room. He took police to the grassy knoll near his home at Evry where he'd hidden it.

Nadal isn't the only celebrity to sport expensive gadgets loaned to them by luxury companies.

In 1999, Whoopi Goldberg wore the most expensive ensemble to the Oscars: she sparkled with more than $41 million in diamonds! Designers of luxury clothes, shoes, bags and jewellery have long worked out that the red carpet is an excellent place to promote their latest designs.

Both sides are happy: the stars don't pay a penny, get to wear the latest bling and are often allowed to keep their gowns, while the designers get oodles of free publicity.

It wasn't always thus. Until the 1950s, stars wore their own jewellery. Marlene Dietrich wore her own rubies in the 1950s Hitchcock movie Stagefright, and diamonds really were Liz Taylor's best friend. Her impressive jewellery collection was auctioned for £74 million last year.

But these days much of the jewellery you see on the red carpet is borrowed. Some celebs even get paid to wear gems: the going rate for those who get nominated for the biggest awards such as Best Actress is more than $100,000.

When the jeweller Irene Neuwirth lent the actress Octavia Spencer a pair of earrings to wear at the Golden Globes award ceremony in Hollywood in January, the payback was instantaneous: "They sold while she was giving her acceptance speech," Neuwirth told the New York Times.

But there are obvious risks for jewellers and designers - what if their gems and gadgets are damaged, lost or stolen? Or what if the celebrity simply won't give them back?

Two years ago celebrity jeweller Jacob & Co claimed it lent $114,000 of jewellery to Courtney Love, but only got one bracelet back at the time. It is not known whether the rest - two white gold and diamond chains, a white gold bracelet and a pair of white gold and diamond pave hoop earrings - were ever returned.



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