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Famous Jewellery Collections
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's Jewellery Collection
The jewellery collection belonging to this monarch is so extensive that there is a special room about the size of an ice rink to house it, situated 40 feet beneath Buckingham Palace. This collection does not include the British Crown Jewels, which are kept in the Tower of London. The Queen's personal fine jewellery is conservatively valued at $57 million. Most of it was received as gifts. One of the highlights of the collection is the so-called Timur Ruby. This is in fact a substantial 352.50-carat spinel. It is inscribed with the names of several of the previous owners, who were Mughal emperors. Other impressive gems in her collection include the Cambridge and Delhi Dunbar Parure, a suite of emerald jewellery including an emerald diadem (a jewelled ornamental headband) and the Prince Albert Brooch, a huge sapphire given to Queen Victoria by Prince Albert the day before their wedding. Equally impressive are Queen Mary's large ruby earrings. The collection also contains several of the large diamonds cut from the Cullinan, the largest diamond ever mined, weighing in at 3,106 carats, or just under one and a half pounds. From these were cut the 'Stars of Africa', the Cullinan I and II, weighing 530-carats and 317-carats respectively. She reportedly refers to the Cullinan III (94-carats) and Cullinan IV (64-carats) as "Granny's Chips."
Elizabeth Taylor's Jewellery Collection
This is another well-known and extensive jewellery collection, again largely consisting of gifts. It includes the 33.19-carat Krupp diamond and the 69.42-carat pear-shaped Taylor-Burton Diamond, given to her by Richard Burton. This now hangs from a diamond necklace. Elizabeth Taylor also received from Richard Burton the heart-shaped yellow diamond which was originally a gift given in 1621 by Shah Jahan to his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who inspired the Taj Mahal. There is also an impressive range of emeralds in this collection – Burton gave her a famous emerald and diamond brooch and emerald necklace as a wedding present, and earrings, a bracelet and a ring at later points in their marriage. Some of the emeralds in the set were from the Grand Duchess Vladimir of Russia. Another gift Taylor received from Burton was La Peregrina, a pear-shaped drop pearl weighing 203.84 grains once owned by the Spanish Royal Family. This is one of the largest and most historic pearls in existence.
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' Jewellery Collection
Jackie Kennedy's jewellery collection grew considerably when she married Aristotle Onassis – it is reported that she received $5 million in jewellery from her husband. Her engagement ring from Onassis reportedly sold for $2.6 million at the auction of the Estate of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis at Sotheby's on April 24, 1996. At this auction, a 47-carat kunzite ring that President Kennedy purchased for his wife but never had the chance to give her was also sold.
Marlene Dietrich's Jewellery Collection
Dietrich wore her own jewellery in many of her films and was a particular fan of emeralds. Most famously, she wore a suite set with huge cabochon emeralds in her role as a jewel thief in Desire in 1938. One anecdote tells of her baking a cake at Katherine Cornell's house, and being unable to find her 37.41-carat cabochon emerald ring which she had taken off in the kitchen. Despite everybody's best efforts, the ring could not be found – until it turned up in a piece of the cake during dessert!
Joan Crawford's Jewellery Collection
This actress was so notoriously keen on sapphires that the press called them "Joan Blue" after her. One of her favourite pieces in her extensive collection included a bracelet set with three star sapphires of 60 carats each. Star sapphires are half-dome-cut sapphires with a starlike effect which seems to glide across the surface of the stone, the way the sliver does in a cat's eye. She was also the owner of a 70-carat star sapphire engagement ring, and a 72-carat emerald-cut sapphire, which she often wore together on the same finger!