The famous Taylor-Burton diamond was the product of a fight that Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor had in a restaurant one night. Burton called Taylor’s hands large and ugly, and she responded that in that case, he’d better buy her the 69-carat ring she wanted so that her hands looked smaller and more attractive. The flawless, pear-shaped diamond ring she wanted was slated for auction in October 1969. It was bought by the Cartier jewelry firm for $1.05 million. The very next day, Burton bought the diamond for an estimated $1.5 million. The diamond was christened the “Taylor-Burton” and it remained at Cartier for several days before Burton took it home and presented it to Taylor. Thousands of people lined the street outside Cartier every day to view it.
At the time of its 1969 sale the diamond was set in a platinum ring with two smaller diamonds on either side. Miss Taylor wore the Taylor-Burton in public for the first time when she attended Princess Grace’s 40th birthday party in Monaco. The ring guest starred with the Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton on an episode of Here’s Lucy, and also appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. The diamond is reported to have been at the center of a humorous exchange between Elizabeth and the Princess Margaret of England. “Is that the famous diamond? But it’s so large—how very vulgar!” “Yes,” said Elizabeth. “Ain’t it great?” Margaret then asked to try on the huge stone. “It doesn’t look so vulgar now, does it?” remarked Elizabeth.
During her ownership of the famous gem from 1969 to 1978, Elizabeth Taylor wore the beautiful necklace to the 1970 Academy Awards. She sold the necklace in 1979 and donated part of the proceeds to help fund a hospital in Botswana.