World's Famous Gemstones

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World's Famous Gemstones

A LOVE SET IN STONE: Elizabeth Taylor’s Bulgari Emerald and Diamond Brooch-Pendant

Elizabeth Taylor once admitted to having only three true loves in her life: her third husband, Mike Todd, her fifth husband, Richard Burton (whom she married twice), and jewelry. Surpassing Hollywood’s fleeting limelight, Elizabeth Taylor today remains one of the most highly revered actors of the past century. A long list of standout performances, her haunting beauty, and a penchant for unbridled elegance earned the violet-eyed actress her rightful place in silver screen history. 

But whether Taylor liked it or not, it was her tumultuous love life that drew the most attention from the public. Breaking more than a few hearts along the way, her many marriages crashed international headlining news. However, no other epic romance prevailed the test of time than her love for fine jewelry.  

A standout in Taylor’s affair with diamonds and baubles is the emerald and diamond brooch that Richard Burton gifted her upon their Roman engagement in 1958. “The only word she knows in Italian is Bulgari. I introduced Liz to beer and she introduced me to Bulgari,” recalled Burton with humor. 

Universally considered Taylor’s engagement brooch, the gorgeous Bulgari creation has an octagonal step-cut, Colombian emerald centerpiece. Mounted in platinum, the 23.44-carat stone is surrounded by 12 pear-shaped diamonds—possibly the biggest jewel the actress added to her sizable collection. Two years after the engagement, Taylor pinned the brooch on the yellow chiffon dress she wore for the couple’s 1964 wedding in Montreal. 

Taylor had a legendary love for all things Bulgari, the Italian high jeweler, and master of colored gemstones. As a wedding present, Burton gave his bride a matching emerald and diamond necklace the pair had seen two years earlier in Rome. The necklace is made of gorgeous 16 rectangular-cut and square-cut graduated emeralds. Each gem is surrounded by circular, marquise, and pear-shaped diamonds. The brooch then acted as a detachable pendant that could be used attached to the necklace.

Still, a far cry from fairy tales, Taylor’s emerald, and diamond brooch pendant continues to be celebrated 64 years later as the poignant abstraction of one of the 20th century's most intense love stories. 

When the Bulgari emerald and diamond pendant brooch sold at a 2011 Christie’s auction with Elizabeth Taylor’s estate, it went for the price of $6,578,500. The transaction set a world auction record for an emerald jewel and price per carat of an emerald, at exactly $280,000 per carat. 

As with all gemstones, the value of an emerald is characterized by its size, purity, color, and brilliance. 

It’s deemed true that an emerald’s deep colors, ranging from bluish green to pure green, grant its unrivaled appeal. But it’s the natural array of inclusions that renders each stone its unique presence. The mossy contours that permeate a stone are what the French consider jardins, or gardens. Very clean emeralds, such as Taylor’s brooch-pendant, can dictate their incredibly high price points. 

Today, Elizabeth Taylor's jewelry collection continues to be recognized as one of the greatest catalogs ever assembled. But her legend shines even brighter as one of the greatest, most enigmatic, and beloved icons of all time. 

FOREVER A DIAMOND: Paris Hilton’s Diamond Engagement Ring

"Diamonds are a girl's best friend," or so declared Marilyn Monroe during her performance in the 1953 film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Ninety-six years onward, the song immortalized by the American actress, singer, and 50s It-Girl rings true to this day. 


It takes a woman with just the right style, beauty, and pedigree to captivate the masses. Leading the vanguard and serving as a muse of fashion and celebrity, the It Girl appears wholly equipped for a life in the public eye.


But history reminds us that the life of the rich and famous is rarely entirely as it seems—as they say, "no good deed goes unpunished." Just ask American media personality, socialite, businesswoman, model, singer, DJ, and actress Paris Hilton.


Since debuting into New York City's society at the tender age of fifteen, the great-granddaughter of hotel founder, Conrad Hilton, has amassed unrivaled pop worship. Her legions of adoring fans consider her the most prominent icon of the New Millennium, having reigned over youth culture from the early 2000s to the present day.


For this blonde It-Girl, life at the epicenter of international news came with notorious friends, famous lovers, a long list of businesses, and four engagements along the way. 


It wasn't until February 2021 that Hilton said her final "I do" to her year-long partner, Carter Reum. "A peaceful pre-dinner walk on the beach turned into much more when Carter dropped to one knee," Hilton shared on an Instagram post to her 19 million followers. 


While vacationing on a private island to celebrate her 40th birthday, Reum presented Hilton with an emerald-cut engagement ring custom designed by Jean Dousset, the great-great-grandson of the legendary jeweler Cartier. 


Valued at $2 million, the engagement ring in total features an emerald-cut center stone and has 17 custom-cut tapers, trapezoid, and baguette-cut diamonds. 


Recreating the harmony and structure of the diamond head are small pavé diamonds surrounding the stunning centerpiece, as well as on prongs and at the base. It is framed by two shield-cut diamonds and fits in a tension setting. And, as a personalized touch and a twist on the classic keepsake, a special P-shaped pink sapphire stone subtly radiates from beneath its setting. 


Honing Hilton's tastemaker charm, the Paris ring embodies one of the hottest trends in engagement rings: elongated cuts, also known as marquise.


Known as the hardest substance and possibly the most popular gemstone, diamonds are among nature's most precious and beautiful creations. An emerald cut highlights a diamond's clarity better than any of the other shapes and offers abundant reflections of both white and colored light to a diamond. The unique look of an emerald-cut diamond is created by the step cuts of its pavilion and its large, open table, producing a hall-of-mirrors effect with the interplay of light and dark planes. 


Hilton's intricate ring was influenced by the vaulted glass ceiling of the Grand Palais located in the heart of the French capital. Fittingly named Paris, the ring is as breathtaking and unique as the multi-hyphenate personality herself. 


Diamonds may come alive with light, but, eclipsing the namesake lent to her exemplary ring, it is Paris Hilton's contribution to the canon of pop culture that brings a certain softness to all that is harsh. Now, that's hot!


BEHIND THE FAIRYTALE: Her Royal Highness Catherine, The Duchess of Cambridge’s,   Sapphire Engagement Ring

The story behind Catherine Middleton's engagement ring reveals a fairytale seen through the lens of modern love. A stone that once belonged to the eminent royal icon, Diana, Princess of Wales, would grace Middleton's finger the night of October 20th, 2010, while on a private holiday with then-fiancé Prince William of Wales. Prince William gifted her soon-to-be bride an intimate family heirloom, the same engagement ring that his father, Prince Charles, gave to Princess Diana in 1981: a blue 12-carat oval Ceylon sapphire cut into facets, surrounded by 14 round solitaire diamonds, set on a bar of 18-carat white gold. William famously stated at the time that giving Kate this ring was a way for him to include his late mother in his wedding. The incredible sapphire ring was designed by Crown jeweler Garrard, valued at £28,500 or £110,000 ($137,395,50) USD today. Kate and William's official engagement announcement wasn't made public until November 16th that same year, surprising the entire world and becoming the Royal Family's most photographed couple of the decade. Along with the blue stunner, Kate wore a complementary sapphire-blue, silk, and jersey dress by London-based designer Issa, for the photocall of her engagement at St. James's Palace, which was led by renowned fashion photographer Mario Testino. Just like a fitting coronation for the British icons of our times, Kate and William's wedding, a peak global audience of 162 million viewers, and almost 200 million online viewers tuned in for the royal occasion. Since then, Kate and William have welcomed three children together: Prince George (b. 2013), Princess Charlotte (b. 2015), and Prince Louis (b. 2018). While it's been well over a decade since the holy union of the British Royals, much attention surrounded Kate's coveted ring—perhaps the most famous piece of jewelry she inherited from Princess Diana. Controversy followed the sapphire ring right from the very beginning as it was not specifically designed for Princess Diana at the time of her engagement, despite a customary tradition of all royal brides being given custom-made rings. The inspiration behind the royal ring dates back to 1840 when Prince Albert had British jeweler Garrard create a sapphire-and-diamond brooch for his future wife, Queen Victoria. Queen Victoria treasured the piece so much that she wore it up until her husband's death in 1861. Having been worn by Queen Elizabeth on several occasions, the brooch is said to be a strong influence on Prince Charles' decision when it came to Princess Diana's. The beloved wife of the first-in-line to the British throne ended up settling on a sapphire cluster ring that was featured in the jeweler's catalog. Princess Diana continued to wear her engagement ring long after she separated from Prince Charles until her tragic death in 1997. Rumor has it that the ring was originally in Prince Harry's possession right after the brothers were allowed to choose a keepsake to remember their mother, "I remember when I held mummy's hand when I was a small boy, and that ring always hurt me because it was so big." Preceding Prince William's engagement to Kate Middleton, the brothers decided to switch their mementos so that William could propose with his mother's engagement ring. Even though it was once regarded as a "commoner's sapphire" for its simplicity, it catapulted blue sapphires to the height of perennial popularity. Already iconic, sales of blue sapphires went up around 300% after Kate and William's engagement. Sapphires are now a popular choice among couples. Their striking appeal lies in the beauty of their bold colors. From pink, violet, yellow, white, and more, sapphires are a perfect option for couples who prefer to stay away from the traditional white diamond style. As the second most durable gemstone after diamonds, sapphires are extraordinarily unique, and no two are the same. Associated with royalty and believed to attract abundance, blessings, and gifts. Kate's engagement ring is now one of the most coveted engagement ring styles, serving as inspiration for millions of replicas donned across the world. Today, the iconic royal ring alludes to Diana's adoring nature and devotion to her children, charities, and her people. More than the sum of its parts, the ring will be forever worthy of love's magic touch.  
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