Sunday, 3 July 2011

Sunday ROM'bling's

Get it? This is a rambling. On a Sunday. And I was at the ROM looking at jewelry today.

I am fortunate to have a friend whom I've known from the age of 8 months. She is four years older, so I suppose our friendship couldn't have possibly started before the age of 2. And even then it was not likely a friendship forged on equal footing, no matter how I perceived the situation at the time. 

We went to the same elementary school, and I distinctly remember the grade three class being brought in to help the JKs make stained glass.
Tall Megan and me, watching the fireworks on Canada Day.
"Can I go with Megan?" I asked the teacher. "She's my friend! Right there!"
"Sure, sure," said the teacher, with a frustratingly amused smile. "Now go sit down and drink your juice."

My friend is tall and she is an artist. Her name is Megan. She is like a sister to me.

On Thursday night, Tall Megan came to visit me for the weekend. Thursday was also my last day of work. The office shut down at 1 PM and I spent the afternoon sipping gin and sodas in the sun with my lovely work ladies (and now friends) and receiving things like tea cups and necklaces and a whopping gift certificate to anthropologie. (Quit your job, everyone.)

Then I went home and cleaned (low point). Following that I journeyed to check out musician boyfriend's TO jam space and hear his new  band. Any circumstance where I can refer to a 'jam space' won't fail to make me feel ridiculously cool. Especially if I'm in one. (The dirtier the better.)

Then at 11, after a delayed Porter flight and my not answering the buzzer to my building (phone was on silent...), Tall Megan finally arrived. (Minus the cleaning, Thursday was possibly the best day of my life.)

Tall Megan works for Mappins and has aspirations to become a gemologist. She likes diamonds. A LOT.  She is also a visual artist who works primarily with graphite. Today, whilst browsing precious and unique minerals at the ROM, she informed me that graphite and diamonds are made of the same carbon, just arranged differently. Which makes me think that Spencer Pratt might have been on to something with his crystal therapy, as Tall Megan's destiny is undoubtedly linked to this carbon. But this is not about Spencer Pratt. Though I do wonder what he's up to these days.

I was thrilled to be able to accompany Tall Megan to the Gold and Gems room at the ROM. Musician boyfriend and I had been previously, and I'd made him take photos of everything with his phone to send to her. Overzealous, you say? I've known her since I was 8 months old, remember. I know how much Tall Megan likes rocks. 

Mrs. Rose Torno's Pearls. Photo credit: Tall Megan
By the second case, I noticed that a Mrs. Rose Torno had donated an AWFUL lot of million-dollar jewelry to the ROM. An awful lot. Rooooosssee Tooorrrnnoo. Who was this Rose Torno? I googled her instantly on my iphone as Tall Megan ogled multi-coloured sapphires and mixed-cut bullet shaped fluorite. 

Rose Torno, married to Noah Torno, a philanthropist and businessman who had made his money in booze, was one half of Toronto's most fashionable power couples. Rose Torno was a socialite in the 50s. Rose Torno loved haute couture and was a private client of Christian Dior. Rose Torno lived in the 10,000 square foot "Torno Penthouse" atop 130 Bloor St. West until she died in 2002. Rose Torno owned an awful lot of rare jewels. The penthouse (now selling for $15 million) has been empty since her death.

Where did she get these pieces? How? Were they gifts from her husband Noah? Did he cheat on her a lot? Was Noah Torno a philandering philanthropist? Or was his wife the love of his life?

Mrs. Rose Torno was one fascinating, fabulous lady. Her jewelry is immortalized in a museum. Her penthouse has been designated a heritage property by the City of Toronto and must remain virtually untouched. And as striking as her pearls, she didn't hold a job. 

Yes, she was the founding president of the Mount Sinai Hospital Auxiliary. But Mrs. Rose Torno was virtually unemployed. Thus, I think Mrs. Rose Torno and I would have been great friends. 

Tall Megan, Rose Torno, and me.


Caitlin Rose said...

oh She also donated some beautiful clothes to the ROM, there was a lovely black dress by Dior that was hers. She was TINY! also Megan should check out Carly Waito's paintings, there of rocks : )

I'm glad you had a lovely weekend : )

Anonymous said...

Mr Noah Torno loved his wife Rose very much. He did not cheat on her he just loved her..

Meg said...

I believe that Mrs Torno was a lawyer as well, so perhaps she only ended her career towards the end of her life.

I personally LOVE this section at the ROM. I day dream about her jewels, and the others, long after I leave =)

Anonymous said...

Mr and Mrs. Noah Torno were a charming couple and it is not for us to speculate as to their lifestyle.
Robert L W Hamon, ex Bregman and Hamann architects at 130 Bloor St. W. circa 1960.

Anonymous said...

Today, I had the immense pleasure of viewing Rose Laine Torno's exquisite donation of diamond jewellry, gold pieces and personal items at the ROM. I was mesmerized by her taste in design and the craftsmanship of the pieces. The floral broach was delicate yet sumptuous, her necklace befitting a queen. To hold the face powder, gold and diamond compact must have given her joy. The many pieces she donated spoke of a woman with a generous heart and spirit. A truly appreciative lover of fine jewels. Thank you Mrs. Torno for gifting the Royal Ontario Museum with this stupendous bequest. I can see why your husband gifted you with these beautiful items. You were truly loved.