As 40th birthdays go, Paris Hilton's recent celebration was a pretty dazzling affair. There was a sunset, a sandy white beach, some rhinestone gloves and a groom-to-be in the form of venture capitalist bro Carter Reum. And the most spectacular detail, except maybe the heiress herself, was the dazzling $2 million dollar ring.
It's a huge rock that almost eclipses its glamorous wearer. But this isn't the first hefty diamond that Paris has donned on her left hand. Before Carter there was a proposal from actor Chris Zylka, and before Chris, there was her five month engagement to Greek shipping heir Paris Latsis back in 2005, a true match made in tabloid heaven.
The public went crazy for the story — what more could we want than two impossibly wealthy people with the same name, engaged after a matter of months? Paris Squared frolicked in Athens, London and LA — their relationship was so extravagant that it bordered on surreal, and as a 13-year-old who was obsessed with magazines, I devoured every headline.
Paris Hilton was the coolest person I could imagine, but her charm was never pretentious or totally out of reach, even for a teenager like me. While other celebrities dressed in Chanel, Paris wore slogan t-shirts on the red carpet and had a rainbow of Juicy Couture tracksuits. She was blonde too (like me) and insanely popular (not like me), but on top of that I liked that Paris always seemed just a little bit weird. She didn't take herself too seriously, was unapologetic for liking the things that she liked, and always seemed smarter than she was given credit for. I think there's a reason that the internet rumour that she refurbishes vintage radios in her spare time refuses to die. At a time where I was still working out who I was — a self-conscious band geek who also loved pink things and make-up — I could see who I wanted to be in Paris' blend of lipgloss and eccentricity.
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The fact that a hot billionaire was madly in love with her only made Paris more powerful in my eyes. I remember seeing a paparazzi picture of them laughing hysterically together on sun loungers, and feeling a combination of surprise and jealousy that anyone could ever feel that comfortable around another person.
Then there was the matter of the ring, the third party in Paris and Paris' relationship. The first ring was a canary diamond, which Paris said she did like, but not quite enough to wear. If you believe the rumours, she was then presented with a buffet of 15 alternative rocks to pick from. The chosen one was a 24 carat diamond reportedly worth $4.7 million which Paris later complained was too heavy — a very relatable issue, we can all agree.
The ring drama encapsulated everything I loved about the couple. There was the excess, but also a playfulness along with honesty and generosity. Paris and Paris smouldered in the pages of Vanity Fair under the words, "He's just amazing. I thought I was going to end up with some jackass," They wanted to have kids within two years, and went as far as choosing names for their future brood — Paris for a girl, obviously, but London for a boy (preferences that Paris still holds). Their relationship seemed kind, loving and above all fun, and following it reminded me that there was a world outside of my small town; one where people really took private jets, carried around tiny dogs in tiny monogrammed Louis Vuitton handbags, and never, ever had to go to bed on time.
I so badly wanted it to work, because to me Paris Hilton was a misunderstood genius in a pink tank top. My friends and I quoted The Simple Life ("What is Walmart? Do they, like, sell wall stuff?"), bought Paris Hilton fragrances duty-free, and watched House of Wax from behind pillows. Her business decisions raked in millions of dollars — if she could just make her much-mocked relationship a success, then maybe she would gain the respect she truly deserved.
When she broke up with Paris Latsis, the tabloids were gleeful — how ironic, they smirked, that she had bought a painting of them under a banner (held by angels, of course) that read "True Love" just a few short days before it ended. I was devastated that the skeptics were proved right. It seemed like they had everything going for them — their relationship wasn't plagued by money troubles or stresses from the office like in the real world. If Paris and Paris, two rich, beautiful young people who genuinely seemed to have fun together, couldn't make it work, then who could?
Their abandoned engagement is just a footnote in Paris Hilton's sparkling life — if you believe the papers, she was kissing another Greek shipping heir, Stavros Niarchos III days later. There were more parties, more perfumes, and Paris Latsis simply faded away quietly into his fortune. But 15 years later, I am still strangely moved by Paris Hilton's decision to end an engagement in front of the world.
In her 2020 documentary This Is Paris, she confirmed that the airhead act was a combination of business decision and coping mechanism. But to analyze your own feelings so well at the age of 24, and conclude that being in love doesn't mean you're ready for marriage, shows a strength that we should respect.
What became of the $4.7 million ring, you might ask? There's a happier ending there: She auctioned it off to provide aid for people affected by Hurricane Katrina. This time around, her fiancée didn't take any chances, and called in the grandson of Louis Cartier to create a bespoke piece inspired by Grand Palais and the Eiffel Tower. The gigantic 20 carat emerald cut diamond still looks pretty heavy, but we all have to suffer for the ones we love, right?
Breakups That Broke Us is a weekly column about the failed celebrity relationships that convinced us love is dead.
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