Elizabeth Taylor’s Treasures

Dear Mom & Dad,

Did you read about my ring? It’s fab! Love you both. Wish you were here!

Elizabeth & Richard

This was a postcard from Elizabeth Taylor to her parents, soon after Richard Burton gifted her with the 33-carat Ascher cut diamond now known as the Elizabeth Taylor diamond, formerly the Krupp diamond. Liz Taylor postcardI am so charmed by that card because it so succinctly conveys her love for her family, her love for jewelry, her sense of humor, and the approximate size of that honking ring. It may have even been a little small – was only a postcard, after all.Elizabeth Taylor diamond

The sale of Elizabeth Taylor’s treasures begins tonight at Christie’s and continues to Friday. I was lucky to see the exhibit of the Collection of Elizabeth Taylor at the auction house in New York last week (thank you again, Stephanie Thorne!), and the most surprising thing about it was the sheer volume of it all. Room after room after room. Not just jewelry but clothes and shoes and pocketbooks and paintings and and and. Lord that girl loved a caftan, maybe as much as she loved jewelry. Okay maybe not quite as much.

Charm bracelet
Charm bracelets were all the rage in the 1950s, and she had several. I still love them.

I have several friends who knew her, but the one I had dinner with last night was Alex HItz,* of Beverly Hills Kitchen fame. He used to go to her house for Thanksgiving, whereupon she would invariably descend as much as three hours late. “We’d all come late, and then we’d wait,” he said. Did she wear a caftan, I asked. “Yes,” he said, “a caftan and some big ruby necklace or something.” Not a daytime necklace, I take it. I think she was late so it would be dark and she could wear that kind of jewelry. “She was magic,” he said, “and her children adored her.” I love hearing that.

Peregrina pearl
The famous Peregrina pearl. Nico Landrigan, president of Verdura, told me that not long after his father Ward Landrigan - now chairman of Verdura but then at Parke Benet - delivered it, it was lost in the pink shag carpet of the Las Vegas hotel suite she was staying in while filming Cleopatra. A frantic search discovered it in the tiny jaws of her Lhasa Apso, who thankfully decided against swallowing it.

*P.S. More about Alex Hitz later, because he is fab, too, just like Liz’s ring.

Liz ruby ring
This ruby and diamond ring from Van Cleef & Arpels was a Christmas gift from Richard Burton.

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