Galeotto was Cleopatra’s set. Liz Taylor and Richard Burton they are overwhelmed by passion, a colossal love that is born between the chalks and the papier-mâché of Cinecittà. They fall in love, marry, divorce, and then remarry in 1975. The second marriage lasts a few months and she will continue to hope for a third occasion. He introduces her to beer (as a good Welsh), she jewels (the only Italian word he knew at the time was “Bulgari“).
In Mankievicz’s film, Richard Burton plays Antonio, she is the seductress Cleopatra: her make-up with marked eyeliner and those narrow-tight tunics that highlight the décolleté are iconic. Tabloids will define it “a pocket venus with purple eyes“. They had to play the part of the two lovers and they really fall in love. Thus was born the “furious love“.
Richard Burton and Liz Taylor in Cleopatra, 1963
© Silver Screen Collection
As a true diva she would not have been satisfied with an “any” engagement ring: to declare her love Richard Burton chooses a gigantic 33.19 carat Asscher cut diamond (today worth almost 8 million euros). Yet the perfect combination love and diamonds would not be such without the famous Taylor-Burton Diamond, a pear shaped diamond from 69.42 carat which Richard Burton buys in 1969.
The jewel more than others represents their troubled love. It is extracted from the South African mine of Primer Mine, to end up in the hands of Harry Winston who cuts it artfully. The piece is beaten at the New York auction where Cartier buys it for $ 1,050,000, escaping from Richard Burton’s pocket. He will buy it directly from the French Maison, already mounted on platinum. The capricious Liz will wear it only twice (!) And will have the South African stone mounted on a necklace: the first rare occasion is the Scorpio Ball of the Hermitage of Monte Carlo, which many have read as a sign of challenge towards Grace Kelly; the second is for the 1970 Oscar red carpet. After the second divorce from Richard Burton, she now lost hope for a third act of their love story, in 1978, the actress sold the diamond at auction for five million dollars: part of the proceeds will go towards financing the construction of a hospital in Botswana.
Another beautiful story is about the pearl Peregrina, with a perfectly oblong shape, which was found in the 16th century in Pearl Islald in the Gulf of Panama by an African slave who traded it for his freedom. According to the writings it is the pledge of love of Philip II of Spain for Mary I of England (he wears it in the portrait of Hans Eworth). In the Napoleonic era it ends up first in the hands of Giuseppe Bonaparte, then in those of Ortensia de Beauharnais. After being sold to an English aristocrat, Richard Burton won the Peregrina pearl at auction in 1969 for 39 thousand dollars. It will be his Valentine’s Day gift in 1969.
Liz Taylor and Richard Burton in The Comedians, 1967
Jewelry as a token of love, as a birthday gift or for winning a simple game of ping pong: every excuse was good for covering the beautiful actress with gold and gems.
Their love story takes shape among precious gifts that satisfy the whims of Liz Taylor who has the cult of diamonds and gems. Maybe a little too restless, jealous and passionate: the two lovers, even after the two divorces, will continue their warm correspondence, collected in a book Furious love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton the love story of the century by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger.
And while we hope to see its sparkles in the biopic A Special Relationship, here you can discover some Liz Taylor jewels given by Richard Burton.
The 33.19 carat Asscher cut engagement ring
The wedding rings of the first marriage
Choker of emeralds and diamonds, Bulgari. Gift from 1962
Brooch “The Night of the Iguana” created by jeweler Jean Schlumberger, Tiffany & Co .: gift from Richard Burton at the premiere of the film of the same name, 1964
© Paul Zimmerman
Necklace with Peregrina pearl, Richard Burton’s Valentine’s Day gift in 1969
© STAN HONDA
Gift for Liz Taylor’s 40th birthday: Taj Mahal diamond, heart-shaped stone from India. On both sides, an Arabic engraving stands out
Bulgari sapphire and diamond sautoir, a gift for Liz Taylor’s 50th birthday.
Ruby ring Puertas of 8.24 carats with diamond crown. Gift for the 1968 Christmas
© Ron Galella
Pink pong Diamond. Pledge of a bet: Liz Taylor beats Richard Burton at + 10 points at their home in Gstaad in Switzerland, during a ping pong match
Choker Van Cleef & Arples
© Mondadori Portfolio
Gold and diamonds earrings and choker (with lion head and emerald eyes) by Van Cleef & Arpels. The necklace turns into two distinct bracelets.