|The Elizabeth Taylor Diamond|
Elizabeth Taylor amassed one of the greatest private jewelry collections in the world during her long, colorful life. A total of 269 of her personal jewels are going on sale on December 13 and 14 as part of the four-day “Collection of Elizabeth Taylor” auction at Christie’s New York.
On December 13, the international auction house will present 80 of Taylor’s most iconic jewels in a special evening sale, followed by 189 additional jewels in two sale sessions on December 14. The jewels include Taylor’s most iconic diamonds, gemstones, historic jewels, and one-of-a-kind creations, as well as personal mementos and beloved gifts. Christie’s estimates this collection of storied jewels will bring in more than $30 million.
“This is without a doubt the greatest private collection of jewelry ever assembled in one place,”
said Marc Porter, chairman and president of Christie's Americas.
“Elizabeth Taylor’s passion for jewelry was well known, but it is her depth of knowledge about fine jewelry that truly impresses,” added François Curiel, international jewelry director and president of Christie's Asia. “From the first time I met her in 1998, it was clear that she possessed an expert’s eye for craftsmanship, rarity, quality and history.
The collection includes examples from Bulgari, Boucheron, Cartier, JAR, Schlumberger, Tiffany and Van Cleef & Arpels.
Select highlights from the Elizabeth Taylor’s collection of magnificent jewels will go on a three-month global tour this month, starting with a public exhibition at GUM on Moscow’s Red Square on September 15, followed by public exhibitions of collection highlights in London, Los Angeles, Dubai, Geneva, Paris and Hong Kong. In December, the tour will culminate in a special ten-day exhibition of the complete collection at Christie’s New York.
The complete catalogs of the Evening and Day sale sessions of The Legendary Jewels will be available for purchase in October, Christies said. Further details of Elizabeth Taylor’s collections of fashion and accessories, fine and decorative arts, film memorabilia, and other items will be announced in the coming weeks.
Jewels that will be on sale include:
The Elizabeth Taylor Diamond
The 33.19-ct., D color, potentially internally flawless diamond (top photo) mounted on a ring was a gift from Richard Burton on May 16, 1968. The most iconic of her cherished white diamonds, this spectacular stone was a constant in Elizabeth Taylor’s life and became the ring she wore virtually every day. The Type IIa diamond was purchased at auction for $300,000 in 1968 as the Krupp diamond. Christie’s and the trustees of her estate have renamed it The Elizabeth Taylor Diamond to pay homage to its owner.
The auction estimate is $2.5 million to $3.5 million.
La Pérégrina – The Legendary Pearl
This remarkable pearl of 203 grains in size—equivalent to 55 cts.—ranks as one of the most important historic pearls in the world. Discovered in the early 1500s in the Gulf of Panama, the pear-shaped pearl became part of the crown jewels of Spain. Prince Philip II of Spain gave it as a wedding gift to his wife, Mary Tudor of England, and it later passed on to the Spanish queens Margarita and Isabel, who proudly wore the pearl in 17th century portraits painted by Velázquez himself. Richard Burton famously purchased the pearl for Elizabeth Taylor at auction in 1969 for $37,000, after successfully outbidding a member of the Spanish Royal family. Burton gave the pearl to Taylor on Jan. 23, 1969. Inspired by a 16th century portrait of Mary Queen of Scots, Taylor commissioned Cartier to design a new mount of matched natural pearls and rubies. It was designed by Taylor with Al Durante of Cartier to offset what she called “the most perfect pearl in the world.”
Estimate: $2 million to $3 million
An Antique Diamond Tiara, circa 1880
As noted in her 2002 book My Love Affair With Jewelry, Elizabeth Taylor’s husband theater and film producer Mike Todd presented her with this antique diamond tiara, circa. 1880, saying, “You are my queen.” She wore it to the Academy Awards in Los Angeles in 1957, where Todd’s film Around the World in 80 Days won for Best Picture.
Estimate: $60,000- $80,000
Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor both loved Ping-Pong. At home in Gstaad on one occasion, Burton promised Taylor a diamond if she could win 10 points against him. She did, and to keep his end of the bargain he gave her three small diamond rings, dubbed “The Ping Pong Diamonds.”
Collected over the course of many repeat trips to the Bulgari boutique on the Via Condotti in Rome (1962 – 1967), the jewels that make up this suite were keepsakes from the filming of Cleopatra.
Necklace estimate: $1million – $1.5 million
Pendant estimate: $500,000 – $700,000
Ring estimate: $600,000 - $800,000
Bracelet estimate: $300,000 – $500,000
Earrings estimate: $150,000- $200,000
Gift from Mike Todd, August 1957
During her marriage to producer Mike Todd, Elizabeth Taylor was swimming laps in the pool at their villa in St.-Jean-Cap-Ferrat in 1957 when he surprised her with a trio of Cartier boxes containing this suite of ruby jewels.
Necklace Estimate: $200,000 – $300,000
Bracelet Estimate: $150,000 – $200,000
Earrings Estimate: $80,000 – $120,000
The 8.24-carat ring by Van Cleef & Arpels was a gift from Richard Burton, given to Taylor at Christmas, 1968.
Estimate: $1 million – $1.5 million
Set with a sugarloaf cabochon sapphire of 52.72 carats, this Art Deco style sautoir from Bulgari was a gift from Richard Burton for Elizabeth Taylor’s 40th birthday in 1972. She later added the ring to make it a set.
Sapphire and Diamond Sautoir estimate: $600,000 to $800,000.
Purchased in Paris, December 2001
Taylor had her finger on the pulse of contemporary jewelry design. This set of sapphires ear clips was custom-designed by the celebrated jewelry designer Joel Arthur Rosenthal (known by his initials JAR) who maintains a small, appointment-only boutique on the Place Vendôme in Paris. For these special earrings, JAR incorporated varying shades of sapphires to evoke the elusive hue of her eyes. It was purchased in December 2001.
Estimate: $100,000 – $150,000
Formerly owned by the Duchess of Windsor, this sparkling diamond pin in the form of the three feathers from the royal insignia of the Prince of Wales was originally a gift from the Duke to the Duchess. As an acquaintance of the royal couple, Taylor had admired the brooch whenever she saw the Duchess wearing it, but turned down the latter’s generous offer to let her make a copy of it. Years later, after the Duchess died and her estate was brought to auction, Taylor purchased it at auction in April, 1987.
Estimate: $400,000 – 600,000
Inscribed with the name Nur Jahan, the wife of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahangir, this heart-shaped diamond is believed to have been a gift from the ruler to his son, who became the great emperor Shah Jahan (1592-1666). At the age of 35, it is believed that the young prince presented the diamond to his favorite and most beloved wife, Mumtaz-i-Mahal. The emperor’s grief at her death just four years later was legendary – in her memory he commissioned the majestic Taj Mahal . Richard Burton was captivated by the history and significance of this special diamond, and gave it to Elizabeth in 1972 for her 40th birthday.
Estimate: $300,000 – $500,000
More catfish in form than iguana, the serpentine jewel was fashioned of diamonds and gold, with emerald and sapphire accents. It was a gift from Richard Burton to Taylor on August 11, 1964, to wear on the premiere of his film, “The Night of the Iguana.”
Estimate: $200,000 – $300,000
The gold necklace with ivory opera passes, circa 18th and 19th centuries, was a gift to Taylor from the Estate of Edith Head, a costume designer and very close friend of Taylor.
Estimate: $1,500 – $2,000
This gold bracelet of 20 charms includes an engraved clapperboard commemorating “The Taming of the Shrew,” a gold jeweler’s loupe inscribed with Elizabeth’s name, and a gold sphere locket that opens to reveal four medallions—each one engraved with the names and birth dates of each of her four children.
Estimate: $25,000 – $35,000
These diamond-set wedding bands were given to Elizabeth Taylor by Richard Burton upon their marriages in 1964 in Montreal and in 1975, on the occasion of their second marriage in Botswana.
Estimate: $6,000 – 8,000
To mark the birth of her first grandchild in 1971 at the age of 39, Richard Burton gave Elizabeth Taylor this lion-themed necklace from Van Cleef & Arpels. It’s part of set with matching ear pendants (not shown) that will also be included in the auction.
Necklace estimate: $120,000 – $180,000
The turquoise and gold Egyptian revival motif mirror was created by Bulgari in 1962 at the time the epic film Cleopatra, starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, was finishing production in Rome.
Estimate: $8,000- $12,000