Friday, November 4, 2011

The Crown Jewels of Hollywood (Part 2)

Food and travel guest blogger hkLifestyleGeek is being awesome this week as she knows that hkFashionGeek is swamped and has written a two-part post on the amazing Elizabeth Taylor collection that is on tour and scheduled to arrive in Hong Kong end of this month. Contact her at

Yesterday we talked about the upcoming Christie's auction of Elizabeth Taylor's jewellery and today, we show you what to expect with these highlights.

The Elizabeth Taylor Diamond
Of all the jewels, this 33.19-carat white diamond was a constant in Taylor's life as she virtually wore it every day. It was a gift from Richard Burton on May 16, 1968. She noted: "My ring gives me the strangest feeling for beauty. With its sparks of red and white and blue and purple, and on and on, really, it sort of hums with its own beatific life."

La Peregrina -- The Legendary Pearl
Burton gave Taylor this pearl on January 23, 1969 at an auction and it has royal provenance. The pearl is 203 grains in size, equal to 55 carats and the pear-shaped pearl was 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 was later passed on to Spanish queens Margarita and Isabel who wore the pearl in portraits by Velazquez. Taylor commissioned Cartier to design a necklace to offset what she called "the most perfect pearl in the world."

The Mike Todd Diamond Tiara
In Taylor's book, My Love Affair with Jewelry, she recalls her husband at the time Mike Todd presenting her the antique diamond tiara, saying, "You are my queen." She wore it to the Academy Awards in 1957 where Todd's film, Around the World in 80 Days won for Best Picture.

The Bulgari Emerald Suite
Collected over repeated trips to the Bulgari boutique on Via Condotti in Rome, these pieces were bought by Burton during the filming of Cleopatra. Of their time together in the Italian city, Burton famously quipped, "I introduced Liz to beer, and she introduced me to Bulgari."

The Cartier Ruby Suite
Todd gave Taylor this set of Cartier necklace, earrings and bracelet in August 1957. She was swimming laps in the pool at their villa in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat when he surprised her with three red Cartier boxes. Without a mirror on hand, Taylor put on the jewellery and studied her reflection in the mirror. When she saw the jewels dazzle on her neck, ears and wrist, she recalled, "I just shrieked with joy, put my arms around Mike's neck and pulled him into the pool after me."

The Bulgari Sapphire Sautoir and Trombino Ring
In 1972 Burton gave this necklace and ring to Taylor to mark her 40th birthday in 1972. The sautoir features a 52.72-carat sugarloaf cabochon sapphire in an Art Deco style. She later added the ring to make a set.

The JAR Sapphire Ear Clips
Although Taylor is known for her affinity with Bulgari, Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, she was also keen to learn about new designers. These sapphire ear clips were custom-designed by jewellery designer JAR (Joel Arthur Rosenthal), an American living in Paris. He incorporated varying shades of sapphires to evoke the elusive hue of her eyes. Rosenthal recalled, "She told me, 'My eyes are blue, like yours, sometimes green. It's the others who think they see violet.' So the striped balls are her vision of colour, and the world's."

The Prince of Wales Brooch
The Duke of Windsor gave his wife the former Wallis Simpson this brooch. Taylor knew the couple and admired the brooch. Years after the Duchess died and her jewellery was up for auction, Taylor outbid the others to get the brooch. She recalled later, "It's a royal piece that I save for very special occasions because it means so much to me."

The Taj Mahal Diamond
Another 40th birthday gift Burton gave to Taylor is this gold and ruby chain by Cartier. Inscribed on it is the name Nur Jahan, the wife of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahangir, and this heart-shaped diamond is believed to have been a gift from the ruler to his son who became the great emperor Shah Jahan. It's believed he gave this diamond to his most beloved wife, Mumtaz-i-Mahal. But she died four years later which was when he commissioned the Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

The Night of the Iguana Brooch
Burton gave Taylor this Jean Schlumberger-designed brooch in 1964 to wear at the premiere of his film The Night of the Iguana. for her the brooch symbolised the heady early days of their marriage when they lived in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, a favourite destination.

Wedding Bands
These diamond-set wedding bands were given to Taylor by Burton on their marriages in 1964 in Montreal and in 1975 when they married again in Botswana.

The "Granny" Suite
To mark the birth of her first grandchild in 1971 at the age of 39, Burton gave Taylor this lion-themed set of Van Cleef & Arpels jewels. "My heart was clicking like a castanet when I saw this set," she wrote of the gift. "Richard loved it on me and he said, 'Wow! You are so beautiful; nobody is going to believe you're a grandmother.'"

The Cleopatra Mirror
Bulgari created this turquoise and gold mirror around the time the epic film Cleopatra starring Burton and Taylor was finishing production in Rome. She acquired this Egyptian revival motif mirror worthy of the Queen of the Nile herself.

Images: Christie's

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