Saturday, 26 November 2011

Dazzling Collection

The Elizabeth Taylor Diamond given by Richard Burton
This morning we went to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai to check out the latest offerings that will be going under the hammer at Christie's.

The Windsor brooch
The auction house takes up a big section of one floor of the new wing and this year it's got star billing with a preview of Elizabeth Taylor's jewellery. She amassed some 1,000 pieces during her lifetime, and 80 of them will be for sale next month in New York. The mini catalogue handed out with pictures of the pieces do not give them justice. Seeing them in person only makes your jaw drop and wonder how one person could accumulate such an amazing collection.

Most of the pieces were given to her by Richard Burton, who famously quipped, "I introduced Liz to beer, she introduced me to Bulgari", while her tiara was from Mike Todd as well as a diamond and ruby set of a necklace, bracelet, ring and earrings. The jewellery Burton gave her were around milestones -- marking their two weddings, her 40th birthday, and her becoming a grandmother at 39.
Tiara given by Mike Todd

He even got her iconic pieces, like the 33.19 carat Krupp diamond that is now renamed The Elizabeth Taylor Diamond. The rectangular-cut diamond is potentially flawless and looking at it one is mesmerized by how the light dances in the stone. It's a very lively diamond which probably explains why she wore it everyday.

He also bought at auction La Peregrina, a large pearl that has Spanish royalty pedigree from 500 years ago. It was even depicted in royal portraits by Diego Velazquez. Taylor had the pearl set in a necklace with pearls and rubies by Cartier. 

The Windsor brooch is very beautiful -- three feathers in a crown that was formerly owned by the Duchess of Windsor who was also a friend of Taylor's. She admired it so much the Duchess gave her permission to copy it, but Taylor refrained and when the brooch was up for auction, she madly bid for it. The picture makes the brooch look smaller than it is, and the curve of the feathers is so delicate and almost real.

Many people came to see the exhibition today, Hong Kong Chinese, mainlanders and Japanese. While the pieces are gorgeous, they're really for larger women, as Taylor says herself, "Big girls need big diamonds".
La Peregrina set in a necklace

Intermingled with the pieces under glass and heavy security were blown up pictures of Taylor wearing jewellery or in various film stills, as well as a video showing her in various roles and interviews with experts about her jewellery and clothing that will be going under the hammer.

It'll be interesting to see what happens at the auction next month. We were lucky to see the pieces all together before they get dispersed -- around the world.

Taylor loved her jewellery but with this sale she had planned, it seems she also wanted to make them available to others who also have the same passion.

1 comment:

  1. should be in a museum for a bigger audience-what about the smithsonian?