London: Elizabeth Taylor had a great love of jewels, especially diamonds, her friends have revealed in a new documentary. Screen divas Joan Collins and Liza Minnelli – each famed for their own diamond-encrusted lives – are among the contributors to the new documentary about Taylor, who died last year.
Collins talks of the moment a real royal – Princess Margaret – dared to tell Liz Taylor she thought her diamond ring was vulgar. Taylor convinced her to try it on, then said, with satisfaction, ‘Not so vulgar now, is it?’
For Taylor’s jewellery collection, which included some of the rarest and most lusted-after pieces in the world, was second to none.
Her most famous gems were auctioned off last year, raising a record-breaking 75 million pounds. But the story of what they meant to her is a remarkably intimate one.
One contributor, author Ruth Peltason, who helped her write a book about her jewels, recalls Taylor sitting on a bed strewn with priceless earrings and necklaces.
“She liked to play with them, like a child plays with dolls. Every piece meant something,” a leading daily has quoted Peltason as saying.
Another contributor, Sotheby’s representative Ward Landrigan who became a great friend of Taylor’s, recalled watching, in horror, when she dropped her La Peregrina pearl – the most famous pearl in the world – in a pink shag-pile carpet. It was eventually found, being nibbled on by her Lhasa Apso dog.
Her former publicist and friend Sally Morrison recalls trying on some of her most jaw-dropping gems.
“Elizabeth would let all her friends try on her jewels. She wasn’t precious about it at all. She’d say, ‘Go on, try it’. And she’d tell you the story behind any piece: who it was from, what it meant to her, and the good times it represented,” Morrison revealed.
“Her whole life was in her jewellery. I think that was why so many people related to her. All women have jewellery they wouldn’t part with, though for most of us it’s a wedding or engagement ring. She just had bigger jewels than most – and a bigger life too,” she added.
The programme reveals her almost casual relationship with jewels most people would only take out of a safe for special occasions.
“She didn’t save anything for best. She’d wear the most expensive stuff all the time. You’d visit her at home and she’d be just chilling out in a kaftan, adorned with all these jewels. She even wore them in bed,” said Morrison.
Her friend, jewellery designer Lorraine Schwartz, said Taylor didn’t even need such an occasion to wear the piece.
“She wore it all the time. How many women can walk around in a tiara and not look ridiculous. No one ever wore tiaras then – certainly not in America.”
That tiara eventually made over 2 million pounds in the auction.
Taylor said herself that she had three great loves in her life – Mike Todd, Richard Burton, whom she married twice, and her jewels.