The Taylor-Burton Diamond – The First Million Dollar Diamond

The Taylor-Burton Diamond, so named for the man who purchased it – Richard Burton – and the woman who wore it – Elizabeth Taylor, was the first diamond to exceed the $1M price for a diamond. In fact, the previous record price for a diamond was just $305,000 while Richard Burton paid $1.1M.

The rough stone that would become the pear-shaped diamond known as the Taylor-Burton diamond was sourced from a mine in South Africa and weighed 241 carats. The stone was cut into a 69.42 carat pear-shaped gem and was first mounted into a platinum ring with two smaller side diamonds. The diamond was put up for action in 1969 and Richard Burton bid on it as a gift for his wife, actress Elizabeth Taylor. Burton lost the auction because he had set a $1M maximum and the stone was sold to Cartier jewelers. Burton was so upset he had been outbid, he offered Cartier $1.1M.

There were several interesting provisos to owning the gem. As part of the sales agreement to Burton, the diamond was displayed at Cartier’s in Chicago and New York where 6,000 people stood in line each day to see it. It finally reached Taylor in Monaco in November of 1969. She felt it was too large to be worn as a ring and it was placed in a necklace. The insurance policy also stipulated several requirements – the diamond could only be worn 30 days out of the year and Taylor must be accompanied by armed guards when wearing it in public. It also had to be stored in a vault. Taylor did wear the necklace, most notably to the 42nd Academy Awards. Sadly, after Burton and Taylor divorced for the second time, Taylor sold the diamond for an estimated $5M.

A beautiful gem with a fun history! What other famous gems would you like to know more about? Share on Bridgewater’s Facebook page!