July 30, 2011
WWLW: What Would Liz Wear?
Vintage jewels from two Atlanta purveyors that would have made Elizabeth Taylor’s amethyst eyes sparkle!
By Nancy Staab
- J.S. Fearnley Jewelry photographed by pshone.com
- Richters jewelry images courtesy of Richters Atlanta
With the recent passing of the last of the Old Hollywood-style movie stars, LuxeCrush offers a paen in the form of priceless jewels to movie gem Elizabeth Taylor. With the help of Atlanta fine estate jewelers Richters and J. S. Fearnley, we’ve unearthed some pedigree pieces that would have sent Dame Elizabeth (or the Queen of the Nile for that matter) summoning her ducats.
Aside from her treasure trove of movies and her laudable charity work, much of the late Dame Elizabeth Taylor’s passions can be summed up with b’s: Burton, booze, and last, but not least, legendary baubles. Often those three ingredients combined serendipitously at once, resulting in the gifting of some stupendous rocks. For example, Taylor was ceremoniously presented with the 33.19 carat Krupp diamond when Richard Burton beat her in a game of ping-pong! The even more massive, pear-shaped Taylor-Burton diamond, weighing in at a staggering 69.42 carats, came when he had insulted, of all things, her hands (delivered in his Shakespearian, Welsh baritone) .The ensuing brawls between the famously feisty couple inevitably led to even more vigorous make-up sessions and more bequeathing of jewels.
The tempestuous couple led a glamorous life of his-and-hers Rolls-Royces, entourages before entourages were invented, furs, parties, jets and gems. Their larger-than-life love affair and attendant extravagances are documented in the moving and dishy Furious Love. The book is based on the Burton-Taylor love letters and was given Taylor’s own seal of approval before her death. Indeed, Taylor proudly sported the bejeweled emblems of her Burton love affair on every occasion, rarely leaving the house without one of her prize pieces like the “La Peregrina” pearl nestling strategically in her décolleté. This historic jewel was originally presented to King Philip II or Spain in 1554 and later became the possession of Napolean. So synonymous was Liz's name with museum-quality jewels that she even named her first perfume White Diamonds. However, Burton wasn’t Taylor’s only gem pusher. Before Burton, producer and husband #3 Mike Todd did quite well in that department. Among the bauble booty that Taylor raked in during her brief courtship and marriage to Todd (ending in his tragic death by plane crash): a $350,000 ruby and diamond set from Cartier, a 29.4 carat diamond engagement ring, and a $25,000 diamond tiara for the screen queen. Movie stills and paparazzi snaps of Taylor often feature playful animal-shaped brooches, dazzling chandelier earrings, matching gem sets and glittering gumball-size cocktail rings offsetting her own amethyst-colored eyes.
Taylor, who was quite knowledgeable about jewelry, always considered herself merely a temporary custodian of these pieces. But while she was in possession of them, she flaunted them with pride, even penning a book My Love Affair with Jewelry. Perhaps it's fitting that the last of the movie goddesses who, cat-like, led nine lives (with nearly as many husbands—eight) and who endured countless near-death come-backs and rise and falls in public favor, should in the end gravitate to the hard, cold permanence of stones. In the end these stones helped fund Liz's famous AIDS and other charities, demonstrating that behind the vulgar and seemingly self-aggrandizing flashing of jewels, lay the heart of a truly compassionate human being and grand dame.
Elizabeth: these jewels are for you. From coral drops and bejeweled cuffs to a spiral diamond choker, these locally-sourced, vintage jaw-droppers from Richters and J.S. Fearnley scream Butterfield 8 vixen, imperious Egyptian Queen and sensuous Suddenly Last Summer scene-stealer. Channel a little of Liz’s bodacious beauty with these spectacular baubles (prices for these estate jewelry pieces upon request). SEE SLIDE SHOW OF MORE VINTAGE JEWELS BELOW.
Richters of Atlanta: 2300 Peachtree Road NW, 404.355.4462
J.S. Fearnley: 87 West Paces Ferry Road, Suite 2, 404.812.6464, www.jsfearnley.com