To say that Elizabeth Taylor’s relationship with jewelry was a love affair is an understatement. From the Krupp Diamond to the La Peregrina, Taylor’s collection of fine jewelry was famous in its own right. After her death, her collection sold for an unprecedented $115.9 million – the largest amount ever sold at auction for a private jewelry collection. Even going so far as to publish a book “My Love Affair with Jewelry” and establishing the jewelry company “House of Taylor,” she named her perfume line “White Diamonds.”
Her Collection of Fine Jewelry Ever Expanded
As famous as she was for her jewelry collection, Taylor was equally famous for her tumultuous and frequent love affairs. Richard Burton, with whom she had a “furious love” that resulted in two divorces, was responsible for some of the most remarkable and famous pieces in her collection. He said of Taylor, “I introduced Elizabeth to beer; she introduced me to Bulgari.”
The Taj Mahal Diamond, the Pigeon Blood ruby ring, and the Night of the Iguana brooch are just a few of the stunning pieces Burton gifted to Taylor during their time together, and the estimated combined value of the pieces is in the tens of millions. However, some of the more inconspicuous pieces that Burton purchased become the most noteworthy.
Her Passion for Jewelry and Rivalry
Fiercely competitive with each other, Burton and Taylor enjoyed playing ping pong in their chalet in Gstaad. During a particularly fierce game in 1970, Burton told Taylor that if she could beat him by 10 points, he’d buy her a perfect diamond.
She beat him by 30 points. Chagrined but a man of his word, Burton headed into town for “the smallest diamond he could find.” He returned with three one-eighth carat diamond rings, known ever after as the Ping Pong Diamonds.
Enchanted with her small and delicate Ping Pong Diamonds, Taylor was known to wear them with the Taylor-Burton Diamond – a staggering 69 carats. When others would remark on how magnificent her diamond was, Taylor was known to play coy, show the Ping Pong Diamonds, and reply, “Isn’t it perfect?”