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Why the Taylor-Burton Diamond Is Also Known As The Cartier Diamond

Elizabeth Taylor wearing the 69.42-carat diamond suspended from a Cartier necklace
Photo Jack Garofalo/Getty Images

Why the Taylor-Burton Diamond Is Also Known As The Cartier Diamond
Before Elizabeth Taylor stunned the world in her iconic diamond, Cartier owned it—for one day.

The Adventurine is celebrating the historic renovation and grand reopening of the Fifth Avenue Mansion with a series of stories about Cartier New York.

In 1969, when a 69.42-carat pear-shape diamond was put up for auction in New York there was a lot of interest in the flawless gem. A couple of bold faced names stood out among the dealers and collectors. Aristotle Onassis had dropped by the Parke-Bernet Galleries in New York to inspect the stone, leading the press to speculate that he intended to buy it for his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The Greek tycoon had apparently promised his bride a diamond of at least 40-carats for her 40th birthday.

Richard Burton, who had been on a jewelry buying spree, was also interested. Within the year he had purchased the luscious 33.19-carat Krupp diamond ring and the legendary Peregrina Pearl pendant from the Parke-Bernet Galleries for Elizabeth Taylor. When the actor asked the auctioneer, Ward Landrigan, to send the 69.42-carat diamond to the couple’s vacation home in Gstaad for his inspection, it was promptly shipped.


Ring:  534 x 400The 69.42-carat pear shape diamond ring purchased from Cartier by Richard Burton for Elizabeth Taylor;  Photo Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The day of the auction, October 23, 1969, Burton had his lawyer send a representative to bid with a ceiling price of $1,000,000. Surely, he must have felt the sum would have been sufficient.

The record price for a diamond jewel at the time was comparatively meager—$385,000 for a diamond necklace sold from the estate of Mae Hayward Rovensky in 1957. A parenthetically interesting fact relating to Cartier, Mae Rovensky was Morton Plant’s widow. Morton Plant was the man who bartered his Mansion for a double strand of natural pearls from Cartier for his wife Mae.

But back to the sales room and the diamond, there was some serious competition for the 1-½ inch long and 1-inch wide gem that was described by one pithy journalist as the size of a peach pit.

The auction room was packed to the rafters. Nine people participated in the bidding, shattering Mrs. Rovensky record diamond necklace price in a matter of minutes. Things slowed at around $500,000. Finally, at the $850,000 mark, it was down to two bidders.

Al Yugler who was representing Richard Burton and Robert Kenmore representing Cartier.

by Marion Fasel.  The Adventurine Posts : continue article Link to The Adventurine Blog

Why the Taylor-Burton Diamond Is Also Known As The Cartier Diamond

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