“She was the Queen of Hollywood & she had the jewels to match.”
Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was a British and American actress who began her career as a child actress in the early 1940s and was one of the most popular stars of classical Hollywood cinema in the 1950s.
Throughout the rest of her life, she remained a well-known public figure thanks to her eight marriages, outlandish way of life, and her dazzling collection of exquisite jewellery.
In 1957, Elizabeth’s third husband, the flamboyant film director Mike Todd walked in to Cartier in Monte Carlo and purchased one of the most extravagant sets available on the Riviera .
Christie’s described the pieces as:
A RUBY AND DIAMOND NECKLACE, BY CARTIER
Designed as a circular and baguette-cut diamond latticework bib, set at the front with seven oval and cushion-cut rubies, to the circular and baguette-cut diamond neckchain, joined by a cushion-cut ruby and shield-shaped diamond clasp, mounted in platinum and 18k gold, 14 ins., with French assay marks and maker’s mark
Signed Cartier, Paris, no. MC 1151
A PAIR OF RUBY AND DIAMOND EAR PENDANTS, BY CARTIER
Each set with a line of three oval and cushion-cut rubies, each within a circular and baguette-cut diamond surround, to the circular and baguette-cut diamond scrolling surmount, mounted in platinum and 18k gold, with French assay marks and maker’s marks
Signed Cartier, Paris, nos. MC 1743 and 01610
A RUBY AND DIAMOND BRACELET, BY CARTIER
Set with a graduated line of ten oval and cushion-cut rubies, each within a circular-cut diamond double oval surround, mounted in platinum and 18k gold, 6 1/8 ins., with French assay marks
Signed Cartier, Paris, no. 07302
In her book ” My Love Affair with Jewelry’, Elizabeth described the moment she received the Rubies:
‘When Mike gave me the rubies, I was pregnant with Liza… I was swimming laps at our home when Mike came outside to keep me company. I got out of the pool and put my arms around him, and he said, “Wait a minute, don’t joggle your tiara.” Because I was wearing my tiara in the pool! He was holding a red leather box, and inside was a ruby necklace that glittered in the warm light. It was like the sun, lit up and made of red fire. First, Mike put it around my neck and smiled. Then he bent down and put matching earrings on me. Next came the bracelet. Since there was no mirror around, I had to look into the water. The jewellery was so glorious, rippling red on blue like a painting. I just shrieked with joy, put my arms around Mike’s neck, and pulled him into the pool after me. It was a perfect summer day and a day of perfect love.”
Mike Todd was at the height of his professional success. Around the World in Eighty Days, his most popular production, had debuted in 1956 to tremendous box office success. A few weeks after he wed Elizabeth, the film received the Golden Globe Award for Best Picture in February 1957. Just a few weeks later in March, Mike Todd accepted the Academy Award for Best Picture.
The couple travelled to London in July 1957 to attend the film’s glitzy British premiere at the Astoria Cinema on Charing Cross Road.
The Associated Press reported, “Yards of crimson chiffon trailed from her sun-bronzed shoulders to the floor. Her ruby and diamond earrings and necklace glittered.”
Tragically, Mike Todd would die in a plane crash March 22, 1958, leaving Elizabeth devastated. In later life, after eight marriages, she would say that Mike Todd was the love of her life and she would still wear his gifts to her, including the Cartier Rubies
With Elizabeth Taylor’s passing in 2011, her beloved rubies were sold at Christie’s in a legendary auction that raised $137.2 million for her AIDS foundation. These exquisite gems, once a symbol of love, continue to sparkle as a reminder of her timeless elegance and legacy in the world of cinema. The Rubies are now part of the Cartier Heritage Collection