Dame Elizabeth Taylor’s Love Affair with Jewellery

It’s Dame Elizabeth Taylor’s birthday today [this was first published on 28 Feb 2020], she would have been 88 years old.

I consider her to be one of the greatest jewellery lovers of modern times. She owned an impressive collection of jewels that she wore frequently, but also preserved at a museum standard. Nine months after her death, in a series of ground-breaking auctions from 3 to 17 December 2011, Christie’s auction house in New York sold the collection for US$ 137,235,575.

Tutti Frutti by Cartier

Tutti Frutti by Cartier is a style of jewellery that I see as springing from the marriage of an exotic eastern aesthetic with meticulous western craftsmanship.
At the end of the 19th century, Cartier brothers, Pierre, Jaques and Louis, embarked on a successful journey …

Andrew Grima’s Sunburst Brooch

My choice of this striking brooch links to a darling of the 2019/2020 film awards – Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. It was the creation half a century ago of the innovative British jewellery designer Andrew Grima (1921 – 2007), who led modern jewellery design in the UK in the 60s and the 70s. His clients included the Kennedys and the British Royal family. It has been said that Grima’s hallmark style with its combination of gold and coloured gems was born when he saw a collection of unusual gems, but so far, I have been unable to substantiate this appealing tale.

The Sunrise Ruby

In my memory the most exhilarating gem sale of the last decade was the 2015 Magnificent and Noble Jewels auction at Sotheby’s Geneva on 12 May. The Sunrise Ruby broke all sales records, making it the most expensive coloured gemstone sold at public auction. Named after the Sufi poem by the 13th-century Persian poet Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, this ruby was a truly extraordinary gem.

Iris Corsage Ornament

This superb piece shows what can be achieved with creative collaboration – here designer George Paulding Farnham, gemmologist George Frederick Kunz and Tiffany & Co’s craftsmen. Indeed, this brooch was specifically made to celebrate the skills and resources of the United States of America. It was presented to the world at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1900, an exhibition to celebrate the achievements of the previous century and to inspire developments in new one. Not surprisingly the brooch won Tiffany & Co a gold medal.

Message in a Brooch

Powerful, forward-thinking women such as the first female US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, first female Prime Minister of the UK, Margaret Thatcher and the first female President of the Supreme Court of the UK, Lady Hale, are known to have worn brooches to express their views and feelings. Does the Queen of the United Kingdom also make personal statements through her choice of brooches?