Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Posted by Bethan Holt, Fashion Junior at Large.
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Last night in New York, Elizabeth Taylor's collection of jewellery was auctioned. The £13million estimate was surpassed in spectacular fashion, the final total coming to £74.9 million, a proportion of which will go to The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. As is always the way with the auctioning of celebrities' possessions, their value cannot be determined by carat charts or knowledge of the craftsmanship and rarity of the components. There is the star factor which is volatile and dependant upon who turns up on the day. Yesterday, buyers were clearly out not just to buy treasure, but the treasure of one of the greatest film stars ever.
The Taj Mahal diamond, given to Taylor by Burton on her 40th birthday in 1972
I have been captivated by the way this auction denotes the end of the material existence of the legend that is The Life of Elizabeth Taylor.  Her jewellery collection (along with her eight marriages) meant that she was not just an actress but an almost unhuman, mythical figure, like Helen of Troy or even Cleopatra, whom she portrayed so famously in the 1963 film. It's funny how just a few rocks can have that effect on a person but the pieces she owned were, or became, part of the history of glamour, previously dominated by queens, princesses and aristocrats. Now though, in our more socially and economically mobile age anybody can rise from obscurity to myth, and that is exactly what happened to Elizabeth Taylor.
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The evening's most profitable item was La Peregrina pearl which has its origins in the 16th century. It was sold for £7.6 million last night. The pearl was purchased for Taylor by her most famous lover Richard Burton in 1969. He paid £23,800 for it. Elizabeth succeeded the likes of Mary Tudor and Queen Isabel to the ownership of the jewel.

La Peregrina, mounted on a Cartier necklace commisioned by Taylor, image from

The diamond ring, another gift from Burton, which Taylor wore almost every day right up to her death (Image from
Image from
Taylor made her jewels her own, imbuing them with her own brand of legend. £5.7million was paid last night for the Elizabeth Taylor diamond ring. I can imagine that in 2211, the legend of the day, whoever that might be, could be the proud owner of the Elizabeth Taylor diamond, that name adding the kind of resonance which that of a royal from yesteryear might now.

And so to today's advent treat. I COULD show you a piece of Taylor's haute couture, which will be auctioned tonight. But I decided on a kinder option. This necklace is a completely beautiful piece of costume jewellery which will probably turn heads just as much as a Liz Taylor multimillion pound pieces (as long as you're not at a Royal Banquet or The Oscars), however it doesn't necessitate the constant presence of a security guard. 

Parade necklace, £315 at
'I introduced Liz to beer, she introduced me to Bulgari' Richard Burton

The video below is the trailer for the film Cleopatra. I love how it alludes to the fact that the film has been much hyped and discussed, probably because of the romance between the film's stars.

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