29 October 2016

The Mike Todd Diamond Tiara

The Mike Todd Diamond Tiara (Photo: Express/Express/Getty Images)

Elizabeth Taylor may not have been actual royalty, even if she was made a dame by Queen Elizabeth II, but she certainly was Hollywood royalty. It’s no wonder that her film producer husband thought she needed her very own tiara...

Photo: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

The husband in question was Mike Todd (that’s hubby #3, for those of you checking your scorecard). Elizabeth would later call him one of the two loves of her life, along with the tempestuous Richard Burton, of course. Todd was wealthy in his own right, and he loved to lavish jewelry on his movie star wife. The tiara was created in the late nineteenth century. Old mine-cut diamonds are set in platinum and gold and shaped into alternating scroll and latticework elements. Todd gave the tiara to Taylor in 1957, the year that they married.

Mike Todd and Elizabeth Taylor in Cannes (Photo: Express Newspapers/Getty Images)

Here’s Taylor herself, writing in Elizabeth Taylor: My Love Affair with Jewelry, describing the gift: “When he gave me this tiara, he said, ‘You’re my queen, and I think you should have a tiara.’ I wore it for the first time when we went to the Academy Awards. It was the most perfect night, because Mike’s film Around the World in 80 Days won for Best Picture. It wasn’t fashionable to wear tiaras then, but I wore it anyway, because he was my king.”

Elizabeth Taylor and Princess Margaret (Photo: Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Sadly, Todd and Taylor weren’t king and queen of Hollywood for long. Todd died tragically in a plane crash barely a year after the two were married. Liz went on to marry five more times, including once to Todd’s best friend, Eddie Fisher, and twice to her Cleopatra co-star, Richard Burton. She kept Todd’s tiara until her death in 2011. (Above, she wears it to meet with Princess Margaret at a royal film premiere in 1969.) The diadem was auctioned that December, along with the vast majority of Taylor’s impressive jewel collection. Also on the auction block were pieces with serious royal pedigrees: a Prince of Wales feather brooch that once belonged to the Duchess of Windsor — and even better, La Peregrina, the famous Spanish royal pearl.

Photo: Stan Meagher/Getty Images

The Mike Todd Diamond Tiara was sold by Christie’s, with a pre-auction estimate of between $60,000 and $80,000. When the hammer fell, a buyer had spent more than four million dollars on Elizabeth Taylor’s tiara. Portions of Taylor’s estate, including the proceeds from the sale of Taylor’s collections (which raised more than $156 million dollars!), went to a cause close to the late actress’s heart: AIDS research.