Taylor's jewels are worth their weight in gold

Elizabeth Taylor's vast collection of jewels goes up for auction in December. Her iconic 33.19 diamond ring could be yours - if you've got a spare $3.5m...

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 08 Sep 2011

If you think that, at the eye-watering price of $1,834 an ounce, gold’s proving a bit pricey at the moment, cast your eye over the $30m (£18.8m) of Elizabeth Taylor’s jewellery that’s about to come under the hammer at Christie’s, in New York. The collection, which will be auctioned in December, has been described as ‘without a doubt the greatest private collection of jewellery assembled in one place’ by Christie’s America chairman and president Marc Porter. Although, given that the actress once said that the three loves of her life were Mike Todd, Richard Burton and jewellery, if you do decide to shell out, you’ll be in excellent company…

Among the lots on offer is the enormous 33.19 carat Asscher-cut Krupp Diamond (now known as the Elizabeth Taylor Diamond – natch) ring, the first jewel given to Taylor by on-off husband/lover Richard Burton. Taylor wore it throughout her life, once saying of the gem that it ‘gives me the strangest feeling for beauty’ (though no mention on the effects sporting a rock like that for 40-odd years would have on your joints). The auction also includes the 16th-century La Peregrina pearl, apparently one of the biggest and most symmetrical pear-shaped pearls in the world. As if that didn’t give it enough value, it passed through the hands (or graced the décolletages) of Mary I and Napoleon Bonaparte(‘s lover, presumably) before Burton bought it for Taylor in 1969 for Valentine’s Day. The two jewels should net Christie’s et al $3.5m and $2m-$3m respectively.

The auction house says it hasn’t been as excited about a jewellery auction since Wallis Simpson’s collection was sold in 1987 (at which Taylor bought the ‘Prince of Wales’ brooch). And according to experts, Taylor displayed an almost professional knowledge of all things sparkly. ‘It is her depth of knowledge about fine jewellery that truly impresses… it was clear that she possessed an expert’s eye for craftsmanship, rarity, quality and history,’ François Curiel, from Christie’s Asia told Forbes.

One of the cheapest items in the collection is a pair of diamond and ruby earrings, which are expected to go for around $80,000. That might seem steep – but then again, given the volatility of the equities and commodities market, they might be the only reliable investment around.

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