Christie's NY announces details of first sale of Elizabeth Taylor's jewels

©2011 Douglas Copeland/CORBIS

Christie’s NY has announced the details of the first landmark sale devoted to the iconic collection of  Elizabeth Taylor, the celebrated film star. On December 13, it will present 80 of her most iconic jewels in a special Evening Sale, followed by 189 additional jewels in two Day Sale sessions on December 14. The sale is expected to achieve well in excess of $30 million.

Select highlights from the collection will begin a three-month global tour this month, starting with a public exhibition at GUM on Moscow’s Red Square on September 15, followed by public exhibitions of collection highlights in London, Los Angeles, Dubai, Geneva, Paris, and Hong Kong. In December, the tour will culminate in a special ten-day exhibition of the complete collection
at Christie’s New York.

La Pérégrina

This remarkable pearl of 203 grains in size – equivalent to 55 carats – ranks as one of the most important historic pearls in the world. Discovered in the early 1500s in the Gulf of Panama, the pear-shaped pearl became part of the crown jewels of Spain. Prince Philip II of Spain gave it as a wedding gift to his wife, Mary Tudor of England, and it later passed on to the Spanish queens Margarita and Isabel, who proudly worethe pearl in 17th century portraits painted by Velázquez himself. Richard
Burton famously purchased the pearl for Elizabeth Taylor at auction in 1969 for $37,000, after successfully outbidding a member of the Spanish Royal family. Inspired by a 16th century portrait of Mary Queen of Scots, she later commissioned Cartier to design an exquisite new mount of
matched natural pearls and rubies to offset what she called “the most perfect pearl in the world.”

The Mike Todd Diamond Tiara

As  noted in her 2002 book My Love Affair With Jewelry, Elizabeth Taylor’s husband Mike Todd presented her with this antique diamond tiara, saying, "You are my queen.” She wore it to the Academy Awards in Los Angeles in 1957 , where Todd’s film Around the World in 80 Day s won for Best Picture

The BVLGARI Emerald Suite

Collected over the course of many repeat trips to the BVLGARI boutique on the Via Condotti in Rome, the jewels that make up this stunning suite were cherished keepsakes from the filming of Cleopatra. Of their time together in Rome, Richard Burton famously quipped, “I introduced Liz to beer, and she introduced me to BVLGARI.”

The Cartier Ruby Suite
During her marriage to producer Mike Todd, Elizabeth Taylor was swimming laps in the pool at their villa in St.-Jean-Cap-Ferrat when he surprised her with a trio of Cartier boxes containing this magnificent suite of ruby jewels. Without a mirror at hand to see how her new jewels looked, she studied her reflection in the pool instead. When she saw the full array of dazzling jewels lighting her neck, ears and wrist, she recalled, “I just shrieked with joy, put my arms around Mike‟s neck, and pulled him into the pool after me"

The diamond pingpong ring

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor both loved Ping-Pong, and Elizabeth never backed down from the challenge of a good match. At home in Gstaad on one occasion, Burton promised Elizabeth a diamond if she could win 10 points against him. She did, and he promptly set off to town on a quest to find the smallest possible diamond for her. In the end, the pair came back with three small diamond rings – thereafter dubbed “The Ping Pong Diamonds”.

The Richard Burton Rubie and Diamond ring
Early in their marriage, Richard Burton promised Elizabeth Taylor he would buy her a special ruby, with perfect red color. “But it has to be perfect”, he warned. Four years after making his promise, he tucked a small box into the bottom of Elizabeth’s Christmas stocking – so small that she missed it when opening her gifts. Later, her daughter Liza brought her the box and she opened it to find “the most perfect colored stone I’d ever seen.”

The Taj Mahal Diamond

Inscribed with the name Nur Jahan, the wife of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahangir, this heart-shaped diamond is believed to have been a gift from the ruler to his son, who became the great emperor Shah Jahan (1592-1666). At the age of 35, it is believed that the young prince presented the diamond to his favorite and most beloved wife, Mumtaz-i-Mahal. The emperor’s grief at her death just four years later was legendary – in her memory he commissioned the majestic Taj Mahal – one of the seven wonders of the world. Richard Burton was captivated by the history and significance of this special diamond, and gave it to Elizabeth to mark her 40th birthday.

These diamond-set wedding bands were given to Elizabeth Taylor by Richard Burton upon their marriages in 1964 in Montreal and in 1975, on the occasion of their second marriage in Botswana