Elizabeth Taylor’s Bulgari Jewels Still Dazzle ——- 50 Years After “Cleopatra”

At left:  Elizabeth Taylor wearing Snake Bracelet in Cleopatra, 1963.  At right:  The iconic Bulgari Earrings to be Auctioned at Christie's Magnificent Jewels sale in December
At left: Elizabeth Taylor wearing Snake Bracelet in 1963 Cleopatra.
At right: The iconic Bulgari Earrings to be Auctioned at Sothebys Magnificent Jewels sale in December

Elizabeth Taylor’s Bulgari jewelry is the gift that keeps on giving. Sotheby’s has announced that a pair of custom-designed Bulgari earrings inspired by the late actress and her film Cleopatra will be auctioned at Sotheby’s Sale of Magnificent Jewels scheduled for December 11 in New York. Bulgari created the earrings as part of a year-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of Cleopatra, through a partnership between the venerable jewelry house and Twentieth Century Fox. The newly designed 18-karat gold earrings would be right at home in the 1963 epic film, yet they manage to look thoroughly modern at the same time. Featuring spinel, turquoise and diamonds, they are expected to fetch up to $22,000. All proceeds from the sale will be donated to the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF).

The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor at Christie's
The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor at Christie’s
Photo Courtesy of GIA.edu

Meanwhile, on the Left Coast, eight fabulous pieces of Bulgari jewelry once owned by Taylor are among the approximately 150 pieces on display at The Art of Bulgari: La Dolce Vita & Beyond, an exhibit at the Fine Arts Museum, in San Francisco, through February 17, 2014. This is Bulgari’s first-ever retrospective in the U.S. The Taylor jewels include an emerald and diamond collar with a detachable brooch that was part of the mega-star’s “Emerald Suite.” The piece sold for over $6.5 million at Christie’s 2011 auction of Taylor’s jewelry and fashions. Also on view is the Sapphire Sautoir, a necklace featuring a 52.72-carat sugarloaf cabochon sapphire, which sold for more than $5.9 million the same night.

Cleopatra 50th Anniversary Edition being celebrated all year 2013
Cleopatra 50th Anniversary Edition

While the Taylor-inspired earrings up for auction at Sotheby’s in December don’t have the same provenance as those sold by Christie’s two years ago, OBJ predicts that the stars will align: look for the allure of the film’s anniversary, Taylor’s inspiration, and her deserving AIDS foundation to propel the earrings well past their estimate.

All the world was aghast in 1963 when Elizabeth Taylor fell for her leading man Richard Burton on the set of Cleopatra in Rome. It was there that they shopped together for jewels to celebrate their new-found love. Years later Burton famously said of these days with La Liz in the Eternal City: “I introduced her to beer and she introduced me to Bulgari!”

La Dolce Vita indeed.

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