The Added Costs of Jewelry at the Oscars: Looking at the Taylor-Burton Diamond

Lots of excitement surrounded Lady Gaga for wearing the Tiffany Yellow Diamond last worn by Audrey Hepburn. Several articles on seeing this stunning piece were covered by JCK, Independent, and Town & Country .   Lady Gaga’s jewelry and performance will be looked backed on for many years but you wonder if it’s worth the cost? Business of Fashion put out an article titled, Does Oscar Fashion Still Matter? (accessible only to BOF Professional subscribers) Drawing attention to some of the numbers a recent poll referenced in the article found 44% of Americans did not watch the awards show red carpet coverage. I was in those numbers. Of the 56% that did only 6% said they watched for the fashion. (This was a sample size of 2,203) So how much does the jewelry matter? And what is the cost to a jewelry house? I can’t get specific numbers of current celebs, but I want to look back at one of the most famous red-carpet jewel and star, Elizabeth Taylor at the 1970 Oscars wearing the famous Taylor-Burton Diamond.

Elizabeth Taylor presenting at 1970 Oscars

Brief Background on Taylor-Burton Diamond

The Taylor-Burton Diamond has been mentioned by Taylor in books and interviews. The cost of the jewel was disclosed at being $1,050,000 in 1969 bought from Cartier. Taylor wore this 69.42 carat pear with diamond set necklace to the 1970 Oscars accompanied by her husband and actor Richard Burton.

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor at 1970 Oscars, Taylor wearing Taylor-Burton Diamond

Taylor presented that year so many people got to see this piece on display. The cost of insuring it was $1 million by Lloyd’s of London. Taylor could wear the diamond out 30 days of the year, for all others it was locked in a safe. The diamond was sold in 1979 for between $3-$5 million to New York jeweler, Henry Lambert who sold it that same year to jewelry house Mouawad for close to $5 million.

The Added Cost of High Jewelry

Since the numbers are not available for the Tiffany Diamonds cost to be out, I will look at what it cost Elizabeth Taylor to wear that gem out.

I mentioned above the numbers from that time period, but I want to adjust them for inflation, so we see the price in today’s dollars.  You can check out other prices from the CPI calculator I found online here.

Tiffany Diamond Estimate

The Tiffany Diamond is 128 carats and valued at over $30 million by a CBS report. The diamond has not been out since the Audrey Hepburn stills for Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1962. My guess is that Tiffany bought an insurance policy for this event and if Lady Gaga did not already have jeweler’s insurance she likely signed off that she would be financially responsible if something were to happen. I found an article detailing more about celebrity jewelry policies here. This is one of the main reason stars don’t own their jewelry. The cost would likely be much greater than Taylor’s piece.

Tiffany Press

Will this really boost Tiffany’s bottom line? The reason for exposure at an award show is to create brand awareness to sell to those watching these shows. Since Tiffany is a publicly traded company, I will take a peak at their first and second quarter financials when they become available. I would be interested in seeing how the Tiffany Diamond is mentioned and displayed in the store with this new celebrity connection. What I wouldn’t give to see the numbers on the foot traffic over the year in the NYC Fifth Avenue store!

Final Thoughts

So far, the response seems mostly positive following Hepburn is a hard act, but Tiffany is trying to make their industry relevant which benefits more than Tiffany. If you are looking at new ways to market your product and need some guidance on how to measure its effectiveness. Also, if you need help making sure you are accounting for all your costs when launching a campaign or starting a new business venture. Contact me at data.inthe.rough@gmail.com ! Thank you for reading this post and for all the Elizabeth Taylor fans out there I didn’t forget Dame Taylor’s birthday tomorrow!  Return soon for more Data in the Rough!

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