OH LIZ! Part Three

Elizabeth Taylor flaunting a mink coat and the majestic Taylor-Burton Diamond, a gift from Richard Burton for her 40th birthday in 1970.  She originally wore it as a ring but it was so large that she later had Cartier re-set it in a necklace. GETTY images

I’ve been waiting to get to this one- it’s all about the fashion and the JEWELS! Elizabeth Taylor epitomized Hollywood glamour throughout her career. She dressed to suit her famous figure; Elizabeth Taylor was one woman who made curves fashionable.  She had the ability to make everything she wore look good, she could make a bathrobe look like couture and was seductive even while wearing button-down tops and jeans.

Chic in a gingham button-down: Elizabeth Taylor in 1957, photographed by Bob Willoughby

But that didn’t mean that she wore off the rack! While many of her clothes were custom made by studio designers, she loved Valentino, Chanel, Christian Dior and Yves Saint-Laurent. Many of the gowns she wore in the 1970s and 1980s were custom-designed by her friend, Gianni Versace.  The famous kaftans she wore in the 1970s were by Thea Porter, Vicky Tiel and Yves Saint-Laurent.  She also collected Hermes and Louis Vuitton Luggage suites and couture outfits.

Liz in the early 1960s wearing diamond and emerald jewelry and a green kaftan. Image REX

When it came to dressing Liz was truly revolutionary-she knew how to dress with panache, pairing her outfits with punchy accessories to create an inimitable look.  In the 1950s she topped off her chic sheaf dresses with tiaras, and her 1960s experiments with capes, silk turbans, scarves and dramatic eyeliner are still replicated today.   She incorporated unexpected accessories like veils, hats and furs into her outfits onscreen and off, always finishing her looks with a fabulous frosting of gem-incrusted jewelry.

Liz in 1964, with mesmerizing kohl-rimmed eyes and a sheer headscarf. REX images

Elizabeth Taylor’s love of jewelry was incredible. She often referred to jewels as the third love of her life- along with with ex-husbands Richard Burton and Mike Todd. Her love of beautiful jewelry was so well known that ex-suitor Howard Hughes once proposed to her by suddenly landing a helicopter nearby and sprinkling her with diamonds. She started collecting priceless gems early on in her career and during her life it grew into the almost-mythological collection that is so revered today.

The Krupp Diamond (left), a gift from Richard Burton that she wore almost every day, and Elizabeth Taylor in the 1980s wearing the famous La Peregrina Necklace by Cartier, featuring the La Peregrina Pearl (formerly among the Spanish Royal Jewels) , rubies and diamonds. Image GETTY

Her collection of gems was comparable to one of a modern maharajah; she did indeed own the fabulous Krupp Diamond (later renamed the Elizabeth Taylor Diamond), the ancient La Peregrina pearl (which had been owned by Spanish Queens Margarita and Isabel), the Taj Mahal Diamond (which belonged to Mughal Emperors and is inscribed with the name of a legendary Queen) and the Mike Todd Tiara (an antique piece, circa 1880)…. and that’s just the tip of the jeweled iceberg!

Elizabeth Taylor at a masked ball in Venice in 1967, she is wearing her BVLGARI Grand Duchess Vladamir Suite, one of her favorites. The necklace’s pendant was removable and could also be worn as a brooch.  Photograph AFP

She also avidly collected pieces from contemporary jewelers such as Bucheron, Schlumberger, Cartier, Ruser, Van Cleef and Arpels, Tiffany and Chopard.  Many of her pieces were gifts from her ex-husbands, particularly Richard Burton, who once joked, “I would have liked to buy the Taj Mahal for Elizabeth, but it would have cost too much to transport it.”

Liz wearing the Mike Todd Tiara to the 1957 Cannes Film Festival. It was a gift from third husband Mike Todd, who presented it to her saying, “You are my Queen.” Image EDWARD QUINN

Elizabeth had her hand in designing many of her famous pieces, like her beautiful JAR Sapphire Ear Clips.  The earrings were constructed of  horizontal bands of white diamonds and two colours of sapphires, and were meant to mimic the unusual colour of her eyes.  Designer Joel Rosenthal explains her the design, “She said to me, ‘My eyes are blue, like yours. sometimes green.  It’s the others who think they see violet.’  So, the striped balls are her vision of colour, and the world’s.”

Elizabeth’s JAR Sapphire Ear Clips, constructed by esteemed Parisian jeweler Joel Arthur Rosenthal (JAR), they were an interpretation of her eyes. Image MURRAY SANDERS

Liz’s collection of jewelry was documented in her 2002 biography “My Love Affair With Jewelry.” Her love of jewelry inspired her to name her best-selling fragrances after her favorite stones- ‘White Diamonds,’ ‘Diamonds and Sapphires,’ ‘Diamonds and Rubies,’ ‘Diamonds and Emeralds,’ and ‘Black Pearls’ to name a few.  She appeared in her fragrance advertisements bedecked in the gems the scents were named for.  Who can forget her “White Diamonds” Commercials from the 90s?  (links below!)

Elizabeth in 1988 wearing her BVLGARI diamond and sapphire Sautior necklace and other sapphire and diamond jewelry.  The necklace was a 1972 gift from Richard Burton. Image GETTY/TERRY O’NEILL

At the time of her death, her jewelry collection was valued at $150 million.  In 2011 The Elizabeth Taylor Foundation paired with Christie’s Auction House to host the Elizabeth Taylor Collection; an auction of over $130 million worth of jewelry, clothes, art and memorabilia.  The collection toured the world for three months before it was auctioned off in Christie’s London and New York, and fetched more than $113 million for AIDS research.

Elizabeth Taylor in 1992 when she won a Special Academy Award-the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. She is wearing the spectacular Van Cleef and Arpels Reine Marguerite jewelry suite, a confection of white and yellow diamonds and carved chrysoprase. Image REX Features

You were an icon of style, grace and beauty, you were a generous humanitarian, but most of all you were and will continue to be an inspiration to women world wide. Three years on and your passing still evokes grief. Rest in Peace, you were too fab!

Elizabeth Taylor wearing her famous Krupp Diamond. This photograph was used for her 1991 “White Diamonds” Fragrance Campaign. REX Images

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