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!

Hearts on Auction

In honor of Valentine’s Day I have put together a few heart shaped jewelry items that were on the auction block. I am looking at items sold by Skinner Auction House in Boston, Sotheby’s, and Christies. All of them are beautiful, a few have some interesting history and one has created a scandal that will put it back in the auction house once again!

 

Skinner Auction House:

Skinner_67_12_2015_1

An 18kt Gold, Ruby, and Diamond Pendant sold in 2015 at the Fine Jewelry Auction for $1,230.

 

Skinner_121_12_2015_1An Antique 14kt Gold and Pink Tourmaline Necklace sold in 2015 at the Fine Jewelry Auction for $9,840.

Skinner diamond blog

Important Diamond sold in 2015 at the Fine Jewelry Auction for $3,947,000.

Note: I saw this in person, my photo on the right it was so valuable that it was not taken out for the public viewing. A bidder needed to be preregister and cleared by the accounting department in order to place a bid! This diamond was named important due to the area it was mined from which was believed to be in the area of the Golconda mines. This diamond had been in the collection of a prominent British American family who originally acquired this diamond around the 1880’s/1890’s. You can see in the photo on the right the ring is mounted in a setting. That is a platinum setting by Harry Winston. Total weight 31.25cts.

 

Sotheby’s Auction House:

Sothebys_339_12_2015_1Gold, Platinum and Diamond Bracelet sold for $22,500 in Magnificent Jewels Auction, 2015

Sothebys_5_12_2015_1Pair of Gold, Wood and Emerald Ear clips by Daniel Brush sold for $11,250 in Magnificent Jewels Auction, 2015

 

Sothebys_145_12_2015_118 Karat Two-Color Gold, Faint Pink Diamond, Colored Diamond and Diamond Ring, no final bid price listed from the Magnificent Jewels Auction, 2015

 

Sothebys_1327_12_2015_HK_1Tanzanite and Diamond Pendant Necklace, no final bid price listed from the Fine Jewels and Jadeite Auction, 2015

Note: Does this remind you of Rose’s Heart of the Ocean necklace from Titanic?

 

Christie’s Auction House:

Flato_04_14_14The Millicent Rogers Heart: A Ruby, Sapphire, Colored Diamond and Enamel Brooch by Paul Flato sold at the Magnificent Jewels Auction in 2015 for $425,000.

Note: Millicent Rogers (1902-1953) was a socialite and fashion icon that influenced several designers in her day and continues to inspire current designers in their collections. Verbum Carro is a Latin phrase that translates to ‘A word to my dear one’.

 

19c_sapphire_brooch_4_14_15_christiesA late 19th / early 20th century diamond and sapphire brooch sold at the London Jewellery Auction in 2015 for $4,401.

 

DE GRISOGONO_11_11_14_christiesA Pair of Diamond, Colored Diamond, Ruby, and Emerald Ear Pendants by De Grisogono sold at the Geneva Magnificent Jewels Auction in 2014 for $ 290,924.

 

ETaylor_taj_blogThe Taj Mahal, An Indian Diamond and Jade Pendant Necklace with Ruby and Gold Chain (chain by Cartier) owned by Elizabeth Taylor and Auctioned off at the Legendary Jewels Evening Sale in 2011.

It is no surprise to see something related to Miss Taylor back in the news. This piece was a gift from Richard Burton who famously stated, ‘I would have liked to buy her the Taj-Mahal but it would cost too much to transport.’ All items for the Taylor Jewelry Auction far surpassed their estimates. This item sold for $8,818,500, the second highest price paid for that auction. The Peregrina, the famous Spanish pearl was the item with the highest price paid, $11,842,500. (Note: All final price come from the Christie’s sight on the Evening Sale) The Taj Diamond, like the Peregrina necklace, has a story and history attached to it.

The necklace belonged to the Shah Jahan who commissioned the Taj Mahal monument in Agra in India. This diamond was a gift to the wife the Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal for. However, the dispute happened shortly after the auction ended, as the winning bidder has claimed that this diamond did not belong to Shah Jahan. The owner then sought to get their money back and return the gem. This reason for the long battle is since the proceeds of the charity went to the Elizabeth Taylor Foundation; the Foundation had to return the money, not the auction house. This December the dispute finally ended with the bidder returning the gem and getting their money back. Now the diamond is returning to auction on an undisclosed date. It will be interesting to see the story now attached to it. I hope that there will be a public viewing of this diamond. I saw this diamond in December 2011, the only auction preview I needed to reserve a ticket and wait in line. Regardless of its origin, this diamond is still associated with love. For more information on this diamond’s story, please click here.

I hope you have a Happy Valentine’s Day and I look forward to you returning soon for another blog post!