There aren’t many actresses more associated with the glitz and glam of Golden Age Hollywood than Elizabeth Taylor. Thanks to her roles in big-budget features like Cleopatra, the British-born star was one of the most famous actresses of her time.
Taylor’s private life also came under intense scrutiny, including her highly-publicized marriages to Richard Burton. No matter what was going on or who she had on her arm, Liz always had one constant in her life: her impressive (and exceedingly expensive) jewelry collection. Let’s take a look at some of her most famous pieces.
The Diamond Tiara
Elizabeth Taylor is one of the few film stars of the Golden Age that could get away with wearing a tiara. After all, she was essentially Hollywood royalty. She summed it up herself in A Life in Jewelry. “When [third husband Mike Todd] gave me this tiara, he said, ‘You’re my queen, and I think you should have a tiara.”
Taylor wore it for the first time at the 1957 Academy Awards, even though she later admitted that tiaras “weren’t fashionable then.” Todd won an Oscar for Around the World in 80 Days that night, making it an apt occasion to break out the diamonds.
The Cartier Ruby Necklace
Elizabeth was just 24 at the time she was married to her third husband, Mike Todd. She was hopelessly in love, and he adored her, showering her with gifts. One of these gifts was the gorgeous Cartier ruby necklace seen here.
Taylor recalled she was swimming when Todd pulled her out of the pool, and handed her a leather box containing the diamond bib necklace “that glittered in the warm light.” After the star’s death in 2011, it was one of several pieces auctioned off for charity. It fetched $3.7 million.
Diamond Chandelier Earrings
These incredible earrings were a staple in Taylor’s wardrobe. The icon can often be seen wearing the heavy chandelier earrings, but they weren’t always diamonds. In fact, when Taylor picked them up in a store in Paris, they were made up of glittery glass gems.
It was only when she went to put them on for an event a few months later that she realized there was something wrong with them. Her husband had slyly sneaked them away to be fitted with real diamonds. Needless to say, Liz was thrilled and continued to wear them right up until her passing.
The Emerald And Diamond Brooch
Elizabeth often liked a little bit of color in with her diamonds, so this Bulgari emerald-encrusted brooch hit all the right notes. This time, it was a gift from her fourth husband Eddie Fisher. Taylor often wore the statement piece, using it as a hair brooch in some instances, such as in this photo.
She can be seen wearing it in character in 1963’s film The V.I.P.S, or out and about at numerous awards shows and other events. This eye-catching piece is just one of the star’s statement items in her collection. In fact, one of her other emeralds is even more infamous.
The Bulgari Emerald Necklace
Liz was never one to shy away from attention. She courted it, whether she was on-screen or off. This jaw-dropping Bulgari piece certainly turned heads, matching Taylor’s impeccable beauty. This was a gift from her most famous husband, Richard Burton, on their wedding day in 1964.
Composed of 16 square-cute emeralds encased in diamond settings, it was certainly one of the most highly-prized items in Taylor’s collection. The necklace itself is worth $6 million, while the pendant was sold separately for $6.5 million. Bulgari purchased the piece when it was auctioned by Christie’s after Taylor’s death in 2011.
The Krupp Diamond
It’s not unusual for Hollywood’s elite to flash a diamond or two, but Liz Taylor always knew how to do it with flare. The Krupp Diamond was another gift given to her by Burton, who purchased it in 1968 for $305,000. The stunning rock got its name from its previous owner, Vera Krupp, part of a munitions family that had a not-so-glittering history.
“To me, the Krupp says, ‘I want to share my chemistry – my magic – with you,” wrote Taylor. She wore it to several events over the course of her life. South Korean businessman Daniel Pang is the current owner, having purchased it for $8.8 million in 2011.
The Taylor Burton Diamond
One of Taylor’s most famous pieces was a large diamond necklace dubbed the “Taylor Burton Diamond.” The couple purchased the 68-carat masterpiece, but they had to fight Cartier for it. When they tried to purchase it initially, they lost out to the jewelry giant at auction. Burton, enraged that he had lost, admitted he “turned into a raving maniac…I was going to get that diamond if it cost me my life or 2 million dollars.”
Burton’s persistence forced Cartier to sell it on to him. They profited further when the diamond — which was purchased in ring form — was turned into a bespoke necklace by them at Taylor’s request.
The Snake Bracelet Watch
Gold, emeralds, diamonds — it’s a recipe for success. This Bulgari winner is part of the Serpenti collection, and was first spotted on Taylor’s wrist when she was shooting Cleopatra in 1962. To this day, it’s not immediately clear if this was a gift from Richard Burton (who she would later marry) or a gift Liz bought for herself.
Diamond-pave head, hand-crafted gold and enamel scales with a striking emerald eye, this unusual piece was enough to have you hypnotized. While it’s not a watch that Taylor wore extremely frequently, it’s every bit as iconic as her other prized jewels.
The Bulgari Sapphire
Strings of pearls are great, but nothing beats diamonds. This time, it’s a dazzling 65-carat sugarloaf cabochon Burmese sapphire, encrusted in diamonds and smaller sapphires.
The sautoir made several appearances over the course of Liz’s life, including at Burton’s 50th birthday party, with a pendant that could be detached and worn as a brooch. Bulgari brought the iconic necklace back in 2011 for $5.6 million. Christie’s estimate was between $600,000-$800,000, which was soon left in the dust. This piece of history will live on for years to come.
Diamond And Cultured Pearl Ruser Earrings
By the time Taylor won an Oscar, many thought it was long overdue. Her performance as Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof garnered praise from everyone, and yet the Academy didn’t acknowledge her. When she won the award for Best Actress in 1959 for Butterfield 8, Liz was overwhelmed.
She looked every inch the silver screen starlet. Although the show was broadcast in black and white, her Ruser diamond and cultured pearl pendants glittered around her shoulders gorgeously. The actress paired them with a subtle yellow floral gown and a perfectly coiffed hair-do.
The Bulgari Emerald Drop Earrings
You can’t have a necklace as glorious as Taylor’s Bulgari emerald necklace without matching earrings. Burton once famously said that Bulgari was the only Italian word that Liz knew. Her collection wouldn’t have been complete without these beautiful diamond and emerald drop earrings.
Taylor often matched them with her trademark necklace on special occasions, walking into a room and lighting up the place as no one else could. When she met Queen Elizabeth in Washington in 1976, Taylor wore these. She also used them as part of her costume in The V.I.P.s. These were another gift from Burton to his wife.
Van Cleef & Arpels Daisy Necklace
While Taylor was fortunate enough to be able to buy her own priceless jewels (or at the very least have them gifted to her) she wasn’t above borrowing the occasional piece, either. Many stars reach out to jewelers to borrow necklaces. Liz was no different.
In 1993, she wore a loaned Van Cleef and Arpels Necklace to receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Academy Award for her anti-AIDS activism. The stunning necklace is made up of diamond white and yellow daisies. Taylor liked it so much she bought it and made it a part of her permanent collection.
Bulgari Emerald Ring
In case you may have missed it, Elizabeth Taylor had a thing for Bulgari. If it was emerald, diamond, and gold, then even better. This impressive ring was one of the first tokens of love the actress received from her co-star Richard Burton during the filming of Cleopatra.
Both actors knew they adored one another from the off, but Taylor was married to Eddie Fisher at the time, whom she supposedly “stole” from Debbie Reynolds in the ’50s. It wasn’t long before Burton ditched his spouse Sybil Williams, either. Burton and Taylor would go on to marry twice.
La Peregrina Pearl
Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but pearls are more than a casual acquaintance. In 1969, Richard Burton went to great lengths to win the La Peregrina, a decadent pearl that was once owned by Mary Tudor of England.
Liz took direct inspiration from a portrait of Mary on how to have the necklace set, opting for it to be put on the end of a choker. She wore it for her roles in Anne of a Thousand Days, as well as Divorce His, Divorce Hers in the ’70s. Taylor is pictured here in 2003 wearing the breathtaking set.
The Taj Mahal Necklace
Among the many items that Burton purchased for his wife is this rather more understated, yet extremely beautiful Taj Mahal necklace. This cost Burton $350,000 when he bought it as a gift for Taylor’s 40th birthday. He said, “I would have liked to buy the Taj Mahal for Elizabeth, but it would have cost too much to transport it.”
Originally on a silk chord, the heart-shaped diamond was later put on a gold and ruby chain. Queen Mumtaz owned the piece in 1621, which is inscribed with “Love Is Everlasting.” It sold for $8.8 million in 2011.
Cartier Ruby And Diamond Bracelet and Ring
Liz loved emeralds but she was also a big fan of rubies. Mike Todd gifted her this ruby and diamond bracelet with a matching ring in August 1957. While many of Taylor’s marriage ended in divorce, producer Mike Todd was tragically taken too soon.
The year after their daughter Liza was born, Mike died in a plane crash. Elizabeth was utterly devastated by the loss, and sought comfort in the arms of their friend, singer Eddie Fisher and ultimately married him — although she later admitted that it was her grief that drove her to do so.
Tiffany And Co. Diamond Iguana Brooch
Elizabeth Taylor reportedly stayed with Burton in Puerto Vallarta when he was filming John Huston’s Night of the Iguana. This elegant and unusual brooch was gifted to Taylor to commemorate their love and their happy time making the movie.
It’s widely known as “The Night of the Iguana” brooch. Its sparkle in the light and unusual shape made it a favorite of Elizabeth. Christie’s later auctioned the piece off for $1.2 million.
Ruby Cartier Earrings
Cartier and Tiffany are two of the world’s most prestigious jewelers. If one wants to buy something extravagant and expensive, then they’re the places to head. When Todd bought these Cartier ruby and diamond pendants for his new bride, he likely thought their romance would last forever.
Todd adored Taylor, and on one occasion days before his death arranged for Van Cleef & Arpels to set up a display of jewels in his yard. “He led her out to it and said, ‘Go ahead, pick whatever you want,'” said Kirk Douglas in his wife’s 2017 book. Todd showered the then 26-year-old actress with gifts.
The Gold, Ruby, And Emerald Fringe Necklace
During her later years, Taylor had many health problems that often stopped her from attending the events she once so enjoyed. After 1996, it was very rare for her to be seen out in public. However, in 2002 she attended an Instyle Magazine Gala to celebrate the release of her aforementioned book.
Despite having undergone treatment for skin cancer, the actress still glowed like never before, wearing a statement gold, emerald and ruby fringe necklace complete with earrings. This dazzling piece is a true testament to Taylor’s trademark style.
Van Cleef & Arpels Amethyst Circular Earrings
Many stars shy away from adventurous colors when it comes to jewelry, but Liz Taylor always embraced the unusual. These Van Cleef & Arpels circular ball clip earrings were another show of Richard Burton’s affection. Made up of diamonds, kunzite, and amethyst, they perfectly complemented his wife’s complexion.
They were one of many pieces that went on display at Christie’s to publicize the arrival of Taylor’ s book, My Love Affair with Jewelry which was released a few years before her passing. The book dives into the history of some of her most prized items.