Elizabeth Taylor’s jewelry collection is one of the most extensive and popularly known among the masses. Her love affair with jewelry amassed into a personal collection containing some of the most important pieces of jewelry history. Some of the legendary pieces she owned were the Taylor-Burton diamond, the La Peregrina pearl set, the 33-carat Krupp diamond, the Shah Jahan diamond necklace/ The Taj Mahal Diamond… to name a few.She demonstrated a full understanding of her pieces and the field of fine jewelry. The collection was truly a testament to Taylor’s expert eye for craftsmanship, rarity, and quality in all of the items she chose for her personal collection.
What attracted me to the Elizabeth Taylor collection is the immensely personal quality which sets it apart from others. Not only does it include some of the very best examples of gemstones and jewelry, but each piece has a reason for being in her collection -paying tribute to a particular person or moment in her life. What was also interesting was that Elizabeth Taylor did not assemble her collection to be kept in a vault. Rather, she collected so they could be worn, enjoyed, and seen by everybody.
In her words:
I am fortunate to have some very important pieces of jewelry. I don’t believe I own any of the pieces. I believe that I am their custodian, here to enjoy them, to give them the best treatment in the world, to watch after their safety, and to love them. And they give their love back to me. We enjoy each other. I think it’s because each piece has meaning for me and the memory of a piece of jewelry always brings back a stab of joy and love.
One day somebody else will have them. Maybe not all the same bunch,but this piece or that piece or maybe a lot of pieces will be together, and I hope that new person will love the jewelry and respect it as much as I do…
I’ve never, never thought of my jewelry as trophies. I’m here to take care of them and to love them.
Earlier on in my research process, I asked several people why they owned the pieces of jewelry they did and almost all of them related their pieces back to a memory or person who gave it to them. The nostalgia imbedded in the pieces it what truly gave it ownership value, whether or not it was incrusted with diamonds. Elizabeth Taylor relationship with her collection, documented in the book Elizabeth Taylor: My Love Affair with Jewelry, thus struck a cord with me.
In one part of the book, Taylor reflects back on the memories tied with her Ruby and Diamond Cartier collection:
I’ve been astonishing lucky with love -I’ve had two great loves in my life. Mike Todd and I only had thirteen months together, but I see now that Mike’s love was a legacy to me. Mike was amazing: so loving and unbelievably larger than life.
When Mike gave me the rubies I was pregnant with Liza. We had rented a villa, La Fiorentina, just outside Monte Carlo near St.-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, about three months into our marriage. The most beautiful house you’ve ever seen. Actually, I rented it twice -once with Mike and once with Richard. I was in the pool, swimming laps at out home, and Mike came outside to keep me company. I got out of the pool and put my arms around him, and he said, ‘Wait a minute, don’t joggle your tiara.’ Because I was wearing my tiara in the pool! He was holding a red leather box, and inside was a ruby necklace, which glittered in the warm light. It was like the sun, lit up and made of red fire. First, Mike put it around my neck and smiled. Then he bent down and put matching earrings on me, Next came the bracelet. Since there was no mirror around, I had to look in the water. The jewelry was so glorious, rippling red and blue like a painting. I just shrieked with joy, put my arms around Mike’s neck, and pulled him into the pool after me.
It was a perfect summer day and a day of perfect love.
Her ruby collection set was not the most expensive or elaborate within their possession, but she still equates it with equal significance and value because of the memories it holds.
Taylor, Elizabeth. Elizabeth Taylor: My Love Affair with Jewelry. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002. Print.