There are many beautiful and expensive pieces of jewelry, but few can be considered the world’s most famous jewelry of all time. Here’s an overview of some pieces and collections that fall into that very exclusive and expensive category.
- Queen Elizabeth II’s Godman Necklace. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth has a vast collection of jewelry that she wears for occasions at Buckingham Palace and for various State visits and Commonwealth tours. One of the most elegant and impressive is the Godman Necklace given to her by daughters of Frederick Du Cann, a British naturalist, who purchased the necklace in Bavaria in the 1890s. The emerald and diamond-encrusted necklace is one of the many famous pieces in Queen Elizabeth II’s private collection. It’s most striking quality – besides the diamonds and emeralds – is its perfectly symmetrical floral motif.
- Elizabeth Taylor’s Taylor-Burton Diamond. Liz Taylor’s passing and Christie’s recent auctioning of her jewelry – estimated at $150 million-renewed interest in her extensive and expensive collection. One of the most famous of her many pieces was the Taylor-Burton diamond. Taylor wore the 69.42 carat pear-shaped stone to many events, including Princess Grace’s 40th birthday party in Monaco. It was once the most expensive stones in the world and is currently estimated to be worth $3.5 million. Taylor sold the diamond in 1978 following her divorce from Burton to fund her charity work.
- The Collections of the Maharajahs. India’s legendary Maharajahs were among the most passionate jewelry collectors in history. During India’s Mughal period from 1570 to 1857, the Maharajahs – Mughal lords – had a ravenous appetite for gold and amassed massive collections, in part because India had some of the most prolific gold mines in the world at the time. The Maharajahs adorned themselves in gold and gems as a sign of wealth and appreciation for jewels. Some of the most legendary of the Maharajah’s pieces included a tunic spun entirely from gold, massive tapestries made of natural pearls, rubies and emeralds, a solid gold, ruby-studded bird and a necklace triple strung with red and emerald gemstones the size of eggs.
- The Faberge Easter Eggs. Russian jeweler Peter Carl Faberge’s famed Faberge Easter Eggs were passionately collected by wealthy socialites in the late 19th Century. Handcrafted by the House of Faberge between 1885 and 1917, the most famous eggs were those made for Czar Alexander III’s wife, Czarina Maria Fedorovna. In 1885, Faberge delivered to their palace what appeared to be an enamel egg. The Czarina was delighted to discover that within the egg was a “golden yolk” containing a gold hen, which contained a miniature royal crown and tiny ruby egg. From then on, Czar Alexander III commissioned Faberge to deliver a new, custom-made Faberge egg each Easter, always exquisitely hand-crafted and full of jeweled surprises.