One of the great screen actresses of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Elizabeth Taylor has always been known for her overwhelming love with diamonds, that she even wrote a book My Love Affair with Jewelry, in which she tells unbelievable stories of how her collection came to life and how she came to own each piece. There is even an anecdote related to her obsession with jewels at the time of her marriage with Richard: Richard Burton is asleep in bed. He stirs to find that his wife, Elizabeth Taylor, is in another room. ‘What are you doing?’ he calls out to her. ‘Playing with my jewels,’ she blithely replies.
Now, Christie’s auction house is selling Liz Taylor’s complete jewelry collection (more than 300 items), valued at $30 million, in New York Dec. 13-14, with a travelling exhibition of the collection that will include stops in Moscow, London, Los Angeles, Dubai, Geneva, Paris and Hong Kong. A portion of the proceeds will go to The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.
The late actress’s collection contains 269 diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires, rings, necklaces and a tiara. This unique collection also includes a 33.19-carat white diamond ring and a 16-th century perfectly-symmetrical pear-shaped pearl known as La Peregrina, gifts from her husband Richard Burton. At auction, they are both expected to fetch around $3 million each. The collection includes a suite of rubies of a necklace, bracelet and earrings bought for her by third husband Mike Todd – the only one of her seven husbands she did not divorce. It also contains jewellery Taylor bought herself, including the Prince of Wales Plume pin brooch once owned by Wallis Simpson.
Before being auctioned at Christie’s in December, a total of 19 pieces from Taylor’s stellar collection of diamonds and jewels will go on display in Moscow’s GUM. The exhibition that will last only two days, September 15 and 16, will feature earrings and necklaces, rings and brooches from trademark jewelry houses such as Bvlgari, Tiffany & Co and Van Cleef & Arpels. The pieces on display will include several of Richard Burton’s generous gifts. One of them is a Van Cleef & Arpels diamond ring with a ruby that was described by Taylor herself as the most perfect ruby ever known to mankind. It is expected to go for $1-1.5 million. Another Burton gift was presented to the Hollywood legend when she became a grandmother before she was even 40 years old. Taylor’s loving husband cheered her up with a Van Cleef & Arpels necklace estimated to sell for $120,000-$180,000 and a pair of earrings estimated at $25,000-$35,000. Along with the jewels, some stunning evening gowns and film costumes created for Taylor’s screen roles will also go on display.
Jewelry was a way of life for Elizabeth Taylor. They were her friends. She enjoyed wearing them and it gave her a lot of pleasure because they reminded her of the great moments in her life, the great places in her life, Christie’s jewelry expert Rahul Kadakia said.