A handsome collection

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 December, 2011, 12:00am


'I never planned to acquire a lot of jewels or husbands,' Elizabeth Taylor once quipped, but she collected plenty of both. Over the course of her life, the glamorous movie star acquired a hoard of treasures that would rival the crown jewels. This magnificent haul, which includes the jaw-dropping 33-carat Krupp diamond, the legendary La Peregrina pearl and the Taj Mahal heart-shaped diamond pendant, is due to be auctioned by Christie's in New York on December 13 and 14.

'They are jewels to be worn by a movie star,' explains Jonathan Rendell, deputy chairman of Christie's Americas. 'And Miss Taylor understood that when she went out, her contract with the public was to be properly dressed and to have these amazing jewels on'.

The suite of Bulgari emeralds and the Van Cleef & Arpels lion-head diamond choker and chandelier earrings she bought with Richard Burton are spectacular to behold, but also reveal a discerning eye and great knowledge about jewellery. The finest jewels in the collection, Rendell points out, are those in which she was involved in the selection. 'She had an eye for stones and for workmanship.' On one of her favourite charm bracelets (there are several in the auction) she carried was a jeweller's loupe, and she would sit for hours discussing jewels with her friend Gianni Bulgari. Jewellery was also a shared passion between her and Burton: he had a keen eye and a love for historical pieces. He once famously said: 'I introduced Elizabeth to beer, and she introduced me to Bulgari.' Always adding to her jewellery box, he bought her the magnificent Krupp diamond ring, which has been renamed the Elizabeth Taylor diamond. In her book My Love Affair with Jewels she described the deep Asscher cut as being: 'like steps that lead into eternity and beyond.'

Taylor only regarded herself as the temporary custodian of these gems 'to watch after their safety and to love them,' she added. 'One day somebody else will have them.'