The diamond that Richard Burton bought for wife Elizabeth Taylor.

Of Diamonds and Divas

 

The Krupp diamond wasn’t famous until it was bought by Richard Burton and worn by his then wife Elizabeth Taylor. Weighing in at a hefty 33.19ct it was one of the largest diamonds put up for sale in the era, costing Burton $307,000. This Asscher cut diamond was classified as D colour IIA type diamond meaning it was of exceptional purity and colourlessness. It probably originated from the Golconda Mines in India many years before as the mine was exhausted by 1830.

krupp diamond

Probably the most famous movie star couple on the planet, Taylor and Burton were used to rubbing shoulders with the elite of their day. Feted as the biggest stars of the 60s and 70s and living a lavish lifestyle, Taylor and Burton frequently attended party’s and galas with other famous and influential people including Royalty. They were also used to being treated as the stars they were, no matter where they went, so it came as quite a shock when Elizabeth was insulted by Princess Margaret. Needless to say, Elizabeth got her own back with style in the slyest way possible.

 Whilst staying on their Yacht, The Kalizma moored in London after attending a wedding, Richard presented the Krupp diamond to Elizabeth Taylor in 1968. Shortly after Taylor and Burton attended a party which included Princess Margaret and her then husband Lord Snowden. Princess Margaret and Elizabeth struck up a conversation about the Krupp Diamond that Burton had bought her. Princess Margaret allegedly said “Is that the famous Diamond? Its so large! How very vulgar.” Taylor replied “Yes, ain’t it great?” Margaret then asked: “Would you mind if I tried it on?”. Once the royal had put it on her finger, Taylor then said, “Not so vulgar now, is it?”.

This diamond over time became known as the Elizabeth Taylor Diamond.

This wasn’t the only impressive Diamond that Elizabeth acquired. Taylor had magnificent jewels from the likes of Harry Winston, Cartier and a particular favourite, The House of Bulgari.

In 1969, only a year after Taylor received the Krupp Diamond, Burton set his eye on another larger pear-shaped diamond that he wanted to give to Elizabeth. This new diamond made the Krupp look small and weighed in at an enormous 69.42ct. Richard Burton had instructed his jewellers to bid up to $1,000,000 for the stone but had been outbid by Cartier who won it for $1,050,000. At the time this was a record-breaking amount ever paid for a diamond at auction. When Elizabeth found out that they had been outbid she said” It’s all right, it doesn’t matter. I’ll just manage with what I have”, obviously implying that she would put up with the situation. Burton was furious that he had lost the stone and instructed Frank Pollock and sons, his jewellers to get the stone” at any cost”. After negotiations with Cartier the stone was purchased for Burton to the tune of $1,100,000. This was on condition that the stone could be first be exhibited in Cartier’s stores in New York and Chicago. After taking out a large advert in the New York Times informing people that the diamond would be on public display, an estimated 6000 people a day queued round the block to get a glimpse of the now named, Taylor Burton diamond. It was obviously worth more than $50,000 to Cartier for the publicity.

richard burton elizabeth taylor krupp diamond jewellers in harrogate

Taylor first wore the diamond at Princess Grace’s 40th birthday party, The Scorpio Ball in Monte Carlos Hermitage Hotel. Burton wrote in his diary that "Elizabeth's delight in it is a joy to behold and a very quaint thing to witness is the obvious pleasure that other people take in her wearing it. Even Hjordis Niven and Princess Grace, who are coldish fish, seemed to enjoy her moment. And of course, nobody can wear it better. The miraculous face and shoulders and breasts set it off to perfection”.

 

After her second divorce from Burton 1978, Taylor sold the diamond in 1979 to Henry Lambert, a jeweller in New York for a sum  reputed to be $3-5 million dollars. With some of the proceeds from the sale Elizabeth Taylor opened a hospital in Botswana. She and Burton had been married in Botswana for the second time in 1975.

 

As for the notorious Krupp diamond, Elizabeth kept and wore it until she died. After her death all her jewellery was auctioned with proceeds being held in trust and much going to The Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation. The Krupp raised $8.8 million dollars at the auction. In total Elizabeths Jewellery raised over £185,000,000. This was 5 times the estimate originally given by Christies auction house. To date, this is the largest  amount ever raised for a single collection at auction.

Even after her death the Divas jewels were still causing a stir. Elizabeth would undoubtably be pleased.