10 Surprising Facts About Elizabeth Taylor’s Famed Jewelry Collection
Elizabeth Taylor is synonymous with a lot of things—her collection of husbands (seven), her collection of iconic movies, and of course, for amassing a jewelry collection that is basically unparalleled. Here, ten surprising facts about one of the most impressive collections of jewelry, well, ever.
1. As the story goes Taylor got her taste for jewelry early on. In 1945, Taylor acquired her first piece of jewelry, a gold plate and stone brooch, which was a gift for her mother. She reportedly saved up her allowance to buy it.
2. Taylor was gifted a diamond tiara by third husband Mike Todd in 1957. She not only wore it to the Academy Awards, but was also spotted in it doing laps in a pool in the South of France. While swimming in said tiara Todd also gifted her with a Cartier diamond and ruby set.
3. Husband number five and six Richard Burton’s first jewelry purchase for Elizabeth Taylor was the 33.19-carat Asscher-cut Krupp Diamond, in 1968, which Burton paid $305,000 for.The occasion for the purchase? Just because it’s Tuesday, Burton famously told Taylor. The diamond had formerly been part of the estate of Vera Krupp, second wife of the steel magnate Alfred Krupp. Taylor referred to the ring as her “baby.”
4. Taylor’s most famous gem was a 69.42-carat pear-shaped diamond that Burton purchased at auction for over $1 million. It was originally set in a ring, “but even for me it was too big,” Taylor said. “So we had Cartier design a necklace.” She famously wore the diamond to the Academy Awards in 1970.
5. Howard Hughes, a wealthy industrialist and film producer, proposed to Taylor by landing a helicopter and sprinkling diamonds around her. Taylor declined the proposal.
6. Taylor was a trendsetter in how she wore her diamonds. To the The Proust Ball in 1971, hosted by the Rothschilds, Taylor placed Van Cleefs & Arpels jewels in her hair in order to recreate the fashion’s of Marcel Proust’s novel, A la recherche du temps perdu.
7. Taylor loved her jewelry so much that she wrote a book about the collection, Elizabeth Taylor: My Love Affair With Jewelry, in 2002. “I’m fortunate to have some very important pieces of jewelry,” she wrote in the book. “I don’t believe I own any of the pieces. I believe that I am their custodian, here to enjoy them, to give them the best treatment in the world, to watch after their safety, and to love them.”
8. When some of Taylor’s most precious jewels were auctioned at Christie’s in 2011, they brought in a record $116 million, a record for a private collection of jewels. The auction broke six other world records, including the price achieved for a pearl jewel, the per carat price for a colorless diamond, the price for an Indian jewel, and a ruby per carat. The big winner of the night was “La Peregrina,” the 16th Century pearl on a necklace designed by Cartier for Taylor, which sold for $11.8 million, setting the world record for a pearl jewel. Burton had purchased the pearl at a Sotheby’s auction for $37,000.
9. There was a strange rumor going around this year that Lindsay Lohan stole one of Elizabeth Taylor’s famed bracelets. After befriending one of Taylor’s nurses, and visiting her in her home, Lohan reportedly stole the bracelet, before having her rep return it after being accused of stealing it.
10. Bulgari, which bought back Taylor’s iconic pieces from its collection from the record-setting Christie’s auction, put them on display for the first time in 2013. The exhibit included Burton’s engagement ring to Taylor.