Elizabeth Taylor had once famously said, that big girls want their diamonds big. She sure wasn’t mincing words, but spoke from her heart, about her love affair with all things bling. And this was an affair that unlike her many marriages was deep, long lasting and eternal — much like the diva’s own classic beauty that mesmerized her audiences for generations.
Liz Taylor’s love for bling and bright began at a very early age, when she brought her mother a beautiful jeweled tiara. But that was when Taylor was in her teens. As the lady grew up into a breathtakingly beautiful woman so did her passion for jewelry. In a rare interview she gave to Barbra Walters the goddess of glamour had once showcased only some of her jewels — laid out on a table, these were diamonds, pearls, sapphires emeralds, golds all carved to perfection, just like the lady herself. This collection was then estimated at a whopping $150 million.
Many of Taylor’s exquisite collection were gifts from her lovers whom she wed. The Taylor-Burton, passionate affair, told a different story through the gems and jewelry that Burton gifted to her. The 33 carat Krupp Diamond ring for instance is one of the most well known of all Taylor’s jewels. Purchased for $305,000 in 1968, the diamond was the first gift from Richard Burton during their marriage. She wore this piece throughout her life, and even when she wasn’t filming! Or take the La Peregrina pearl, a large pear-shaped white pearl, discovered in 1513 and purchased again by Burton for Taylor as a Valentine’s gift in 1969. After purchase, the pearl was set as a pendant to a necklace made out of pearls, rubies and diamonds designed by Cartier.
The Taj Mahal diamond is another striking piece from this legendary collection. A yellow heart shaped diamond that was another present from Richard Burton for Taylor’s 40th Birthday in 1972. Burton had joked that he ‘would have liked to buy her the Taj-Mahal, but it would cost too much to transport’. The diamond has ‘Love Is Everlasting’ in Parsee inscribed to the back,and Taylor had the original silk chain replaced with a diamond and ruby rope!
Another gift from Burton was the Grand Duchess of Russia suite, a collection of emeralds and diamonds comprising a brooch (which was an engagement present from Burton), along with earrings, a necklace and bracelet. Designed by Bulgari in Rome, Taylor famously wore it to her 1964 wedding to Burton at Montréal’s the Ritz-Carlton hotel. But probably the most talked about from this entire collection of jewels is the famous Taylor-Burton diamond, which also has quite an interesting tale of its own. The 69 carat Taylor-Burton diamond was bought rough by Harry Winston. It was carved into a pear shape and discovered to be internally flawless. It was then put up for sale in 1969 on the understanding that it could be named by the purchaser. The stone was however bought by Cartier (who paid $1.05million for it) but after some negotiations it was later sold to Burton under the understanding that it could be displayed in Cartier’s stores. After Taylor and Burton divorced for the second time, she sold the diamond at auction for $5million, with the proceeds going towards the building of a hospital in Botswana.
In this precious collection are some notable pieces like the 29 carat diamond ring she received from Mike Todd, and which was also a regular feature on her hand. Todd, also bought her an antique diamond tiara which she wore frequently during their marriage.
Many of Taylor’s prized sets were purchased during auctions. The beautiful Duchess of Windsor brooch for example, which is is a plume shaped diamond encrusted brooch that was designed by the then Prince of Wales for his future bride, Wallis Simpson. Taylor was a close friend of Mrs Simpson, and she purchased the brooch at auction after the Duchess’ death in 1986.
The magical beauty of her jewels in their intricate designs and colours, showcase aptly the very life of the diva — sparkling, extravagant and irresistible.