Diamond lover Elizabeth Taylor dies aged 79


Actress renowned for her jewellery including eponymous 70ct diamond.

Elizabeth Taylor, the English-born actress known for her glittering diamond jewellery, has passed away following long term health problems.

As no stranger to big names like Cartier and Bulgari, Taylor has long been known for her luxury jewellery and a number of remarkable diamonds bought by her fifth husband Richard Burton. His first ever gift to her was a 33ct Asscher cut diamond ring.

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During her lifetime and marriage to Burton, Taylor came to own some tremendous pieces of jewellery, including a heart-shaped diamond set in yellow gold bought for Taylor’s 40th birthday. Nicknamed the Taj Mahal, the diamond is surrounded by rubies and smaller diamonds. Burton is said to have quipped of the piece: “I would have liked to buy her the Taj Mahal but it would cost too much to transport. This diamond has so many carats, it’s almost a turnip."

The most infamous of all the jewellery owned by Elizabeth Taylor is a near 70ct pear-shaped diamond, today known as the Taylor-Burton diamond. Crafted from rough weighing 240 carats which was originally bought by Harry Winston in 1966, the Taylor-Burton diamond was later found to be D colour and internally flawless. 

The diamond was put up for auction on October 23rd 1969 by its previous owner, on the understanding that it could be named by the buyer. Much speculation surrounded who would buy the gemstone, with Taylor previewing the stone in New York, having had it specially flown from Switzerland.

Eventually the stone was won by Cartier, who paid $1.5m for it, but Burton – who had also bid at the same auction – was determined to have the stone for Elizabeth, and eventually Cartier agreed to sell the stone onto Burton on the condition that it would be displayed in Cartier’s New York and Chicago stores. Taylor once said: "Big girls need big diamonds.”

More recently, a selection of Taylor’s jewellery by Bulgari was exhibited in Paris in December, while Elizabeth Taylor released her own jewellery memoir entitled My Love Affair with Jewelry several years ago.

Burton had no qualms about his extravagant purchases for Elizabeth, saying: "Diamonds are an investment. When people no longer want to see Liz and I on the screen, then we can sell off a few baubles.

A private family funeral will be held later this week, and the family has asked for donations to the Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation instead of flowers.


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