It's no secret that Elizabeth Taylor had a voracious appetite for high jewellery. So important were the pieces she amassed throughout her life—and via her eight husbands—that they were known as the Crown Jewels of Hollywood and broke records when they went up for auction at Christie's in 2011, netting more than $137 million. Still, to this day, it's the most successful single-owner jewellery auction in history.
And while the legendary screen star didn't discriminate when it came to the heritage maisons she patronised, she had a particularly special relationship with Bulgari. "The only word she knows in Italian is Bulgari," Richard Burton once said. "I introduced Liz to beer and she introduced me to Bulgari."
Theirs was a pairing as iconic as caviar and champagne, amethyst and turquoise. And one that would materialise such treasures as the 18-carat Colombian emerald pendant-brooch, her first Bulgari acquisition, which she received as an engagement gem from Burton—it was surrounded by 12 pear-cut diamonds and could be attached to a matching emerald and diamond necklace he bought her two years later. Both sold in that Christie's auction for more than $6 million each. There was also a diamond and sapphire sautoir anchored by a 52.72-carat sugarloaf cabochon sapphire, a 40th birthday gift from Burton, and coin necklaces and Serpentis, too.
Now, another Bulgari jewel from that historic auction has resurfaced—and this one is for sale. The platinum and gold multicoloured brooch (above), studded with diamonds and 17.5 carats of blue and pink sapphires, fetched more $68,500 in 2011, against a low estimate of $8,000. The heirloom is currently being offered by M.S. Rau, the 110-year-old New Orleans-based purveyor of art, antiques, and jewellery. Take it from Taylor herself: "I’ve never thought of my jewellery as trophies," she famously quipped. "I’m here to take care of it and to love it, for we are only temporary custodians of beauty."
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