The splendor and sparkle of the diamond has inspired us for generations; their rarity, value and the way they delicately reflect light. Whether they’re worn as status symbols, bought as investments or emblems of endless love, diamonds are still the most prized stone in the world.
The tale of the Taylor-Burton diamond is glamorous to a fault. The story begins in 1966, when a 240 carat rough was found in the De Beers-owned Premier Mine in South Africa, the same mine that had produced the Cullinan and Golden Jubilee diamonds. It was snapped up by the American jeweler Harry Winston, who decided to make the larger half into a perfectly proportioned pear shaped diamond. Winston sold the diamond to Harriet Annenberg Ames, sister to billionaire publisher and diplomat Walter Annenberg, who planned to wear it as a ring, but felt too conspicuous wearing such a huge stone in her native New York City. Ames didn’t keep it for long, putting it up for auction in 1969. When Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton heard about the upcoming sale, they had to see the stone, so it was flown to Gstaad where the couple were holidaying.
Burton set his ceiling price at $1 million, and had his lawyers bid via telephone from London. Despite his efforts, the winning bid, $1,050,000, came from Robert Kenmore representing Cartier, who outbid Burton, Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis and the Sultan of Brunei. A proviso of the sale stated that the diamond’s buyer could name the diamond, so naturally the stone was christened the Cartier Diamond. It’s reported that Richard Burton, livid not to have won the diamond, had his lawyer contact Cartier the very next day to buy the gem. Robert Kenmore did indeed agree to sell it to Burton, for an undisclosed amount, but on the condition that Cartier was able to display it in store before it was handed over to the couple. Over 6,000 people a day flocked to Cartier’s Fifth Avenue store to see the celebrated stone, now of course named the Taylor-Burton Diamond. Shortly afterwards the diamond was delivered to the couple on their yacht in Monaco, where they were anchored to attend Princess Grace’s 40th birthday. Taylor wore the legendary 69.42 carat diamond on a double strand necklace of smaller diamonds for the first time in public at Princess Grace of Monaco’s party.
Over the years, the diamond has continued to be a treasure, be it in the form of a sparkling solitaire or set in a delicate tennis bracelet. If you, like so many around the globe, have a soft spot for the April birthstone, here are 37 jewelry pieces worth investing in this month.
Originally published in Tatler.com