Thursday, December 1, 2011

Big Girls Need Big Diamonds

No one loved diamonds more than Elizabeth Taylor, famously quoting that "big girls need big diamonds." And no celebrity is more identified with diamonds and jewels than the legendary actress. While she may have had numerous husbands (seven), her love affair with jewelry may be the one that lasted the longest. From the 33.19 karat Krupp diamond bestowed to her by two time husband Richard Burton to a ruby and diamond Cartier necklace from Mike Todd, she amassed an incredible collection over her extraordinary lifetime and even developed a perfume called White Diamonds.

Just in time for Christmas comes the Collection of Elizabeth Taylor on the auction block at Christies. Collectors and well-heeled fans of the late star can purchase over 1000 items that include jewelry, couture and art starting on December 13th through the l6th. The collection is expected to fetch 30-50 million and it's all here -- Bulgari, Givenchy, Van Cleef & Arpels, Valentino and even Warhol.

And if the prices are too staggering for your budget, opt for the catalogue of memorabilia. A special boxed set accompanied by Taylor's signed out of print book "My Love Affair with Jewelry" is available for a mere 2500.00 (note - only 25 are available and proceeds go to her AIDS Foundation). You can see more of the collection at the Christies website.

Santa, if you are reading, I would love the Irene Sharaff yellow silk chiffon wedding dress worn on her first wedding day to Richard Burton in l964. It's a steal at 40,000-60,000. Just put in a bid on the low side and see what happens:)

Irene Sharaff wedding dress

Krupp diamond given to Taylor by her fifth husband.
It's said she wore the ring everyday and is valued at 2.5 to 3.5 million.

Bulgari sapphire and diamond necklace given to
Taylor by Richard Burton on her 40th  birthday
Estimated price? 600,000-800,000

Nicknamed the Granny Necklace after Burton gave it to Taylor
when she became a grandmother, this gold, diamond and emerald piece
 from Van Cleef & Arpels is a bargain at 120,000-180,000

Warhol's lithograph is expected to go for 30,000-50,000

Valentino red satin ball gown

Emanuel sateen white trenchcoat as worn by Liz below in 1954

Antique circular "opera passes" with the names of opera houses

Husband Mike Todd gave Taylor this tiara to wear to the Oscars
Estimate 60,000-80,000

Happy bidding!

And if you are in the Richmond, Virginia area next weekend, I will be speaking on the making of Cleopatra at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts on Saturday, December 10th. The lecture will be followed by a screening of the film.

I will also be lecturing on Designs on Film at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, DC Thursday, December 8th followed by a book signing. And at some point, I will stick a wreath on the door and ink out a few Christmas cards:)

Photo Credits:  Christie's


  1. The backstory of the planning of Dame Elizabeth's estate and how Christie's came to secure the rights to the auction is an interesting one.

  2. Cathy,

    Great post...gosh it sure feels strange seeing all these beautiful things. As we realize what is truly left behind and starts a new life renewing the happiness in the love it was originally given.


  3. Love that quote Cathy... I would love the catalogue too! xv

  4. if you are in nyc you can catch the exhibit for $30:)

  5. Great quote, and do you know that there's an e-catalogue that can be viewed by anyone? It's on-line at Christies' web site. Enjoy, and dream big! Also, leaving obvious hints for your Santa might work!

  6. I adore that yellow chiffon dress and love the sateen coat (although I don't think it is the same one from 1954). I had a chance to see the complete catalog on christie's site. It's fabulous.

  7. Totally agree and wonder what the dress fetched at the auction! The jewelry prices went through the roof.