Famous Diamonds: the Taylor-Burton
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Famous Diamonds: the Taylor-Burton

The story of the diamond purchased by Richard Burton for Elizabeth Taylor known as the Taylor-Burton Diamond.

No other Hollywood celebrities have done more to make diamonds popular in the latter part of the twentieth century than Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. Richard Burton's first diamond purchase was the Krupp diamond which he bought at Sotheby’s on the 16th May, 1968 for a cost of $305,000. Elizabeth Taylor had the 33.19 carat diamond set in a ring, which she often wore in many of her subsequent movies and at Academy Awards ceremonies.

The diamond that became known as the Taylor-Burton was once owned by Mrs. Harriet Annenberg Ames, sister of Walter Annenberg, who bought a 69.42 carat pear shaped white diamond from Harry Winston in 1967. Mrs. Ames later auctioned the diamond at Sotheby’s, New York. In a statement Mrs. Ames said that she was afraid to show the diamond in public and that it had been kept in a bank vault for two years. The diamond would be sold with the understanding that it could be named after the buyer.

After Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor had expressed an interest in the diamond it was flown to Switzerland for their inspection. Mrs. Jacqueline Onassis was also interested in purchasing the diamond. At the auction Richard Burton bid over the phone, however he was outbid by Robert Kenmore of Kenmore cooperation which owned Cartier. Cartier paid $1,050,000 for the diamond. Burton then purchased the diamond from Cartier for $1,100,000. Cartier made one condition of sale and that was for the diamond to be displayed at Cartier in New York and Chicago. Over six thousand people lined the streets to get a glimpse of the Cartier diamond which was renamed the Taylor-Burton. An article published in the New York Times entitled ‘The Million Dollar Diamond’ was distinctly derogatory about the episode. An exert reads as follows;

The peasants have been lining up outside Cartier’s this week to gawk at a diamond as big as the Ritz that cost well over a million dollars. It is destined to hang around the neck of Mrs. Richard Burton. As somebody said, it would have been nice to wear in a tumbril on the way to the guillotine.

Dame Elizabeth Taylor: Image credit. Primary image credit; wikipedia.org.

Elizabeth Taylor wore the Taylor-Burton diamond to Princess Grace of Monaco 40th birthday party. She had the diamond flown to Italy from New York with armed guards. In 1978 after her divorce from Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor put the diamond up for sale and in the following year it was bought by the New York jeweler Henry Lambert for almost $3,000,000. The New York Times reported that Mrs.Taylor was to use the money to fund the building of a hospital in Botswana. Henry Lambert sold the Taylor-Burton to the fine jewelry dealer and gemologist Robert Mouawad. The diamond is reported to be in Saudi Arabia.

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Comments (2)

Wow, that's a very expensive diamond.

Fascinating history! Thanks for sharing.