She may be known as a collector of men, but in reality Elizabeth Taylor collected jewellery. Large jewellery, because she never did anything small.“Big girls need big diamonds,” she once said, a phrase that is now printed on t-shirts. The actress had one of the most important collections of jewellery in the world, and it was sold after her death in 2001 as part of The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor. The whole collection of jewellery, fashion and art brought in a total of £96,274,235. The revenue from the auction was donated to the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF), a fund set up by Taylor herself, who frequently donated to charity.
“You can't cry on a diamond's shoulder, and diamonds won't keep you warm at night, but they're sure fun when the sun shines.”
The golden year of Hollywood - the fifties and sixties - was the time of apparent perfection, where film studios put their best foot (and face) forward. Elizabeth Taylor was one of those “perfect” actresses. As an MGM child star, everyone fell for her dark hair, blue eyes and the double row of eyelashes, the result of a genetic mutation. She received multiple awards for her acting work, including two coveted Oscars for Butterfield 8 (1960) and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966). Though she went from one marriage to another, her love of jewellery lasted forever. According to Liz: “You can't cry on a diamond's shoulder, and diamonds won't keep you warm at night, but they're sure fun when the sun shines.”
“Big girls need big diamonds”
Elizabeth Taylor received much of the jewellery in her collection from her husband at the time, Richard Burton. He bought her many expensive and prestigious pieces that helped increase the couple’s glamorous image. The three jewels that brought in the most money at auction were all gifts from Burton:
1. La Peregrina
La Peregrina brought in the most money, selling for £7,241,785. It was the Spanish crown jewel for generations before this pear-shaped pearl found a new home: on a Cartier chain around Taylor's neck.
2. The Krupp diamond (Elizabeth Taylor diamond)
In 1968, Burton bought Taylor her first shiny stone, the square Krupp Diamond. Once she put it on, it never left her hand (and understandably so). This 69.42 carat diamond was owned by Vera Krupp of the German industrialist Krupp family. The Krupp family made their fortune manufacturing steel weapons, and supplied weapons to the Nazis in World War II. When Taylor saw the diamond was for sale, she immediately had to have it. She felt that as a Jewish woman herself, she had a right to this diamond. After her death, the stone was renamed the Elizabeth Taylor Diamond.
3. The Taj Mahal diamond
For her 40th birthday, Burton gave Taylor the Taj Mahal Diamond, a heart-shaped stone from India with an Arabic inscription on both sides. Burton wanted to give Taylor the actual Taj Mahal, but the shipping costs were just too high.
If you'd like a jewellery collection like Elizabeth Taylor's, our auctions are a great place to start! Keep up to date on all our jewellery auctions and find quality pieces for the stars of your lives.