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The Taylor-Burton Diamond

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton had a passionate love affair which continued through two separate marriages. They fell in love during the filming of “Cleopatra” in 1960. They were recognized not only for their astonishing acting skills and their multiple marriages but for the diamond named after them, the Taylor Burton diamond weighing 69.42 carats. The original diamond rough was found at the Premier Mine in South Africa, also known for the origination of other huge diamonds such as the Cullinan in 1905, the Niarches in 1954 and the Premier Rose in 1978. It was originally purchased by Harry Winston who took the diamond to New York for cutting. The diamond rough weighed 240.80 carats and was purchased by Cartier for $1,050,000 on October 23, 1969 during a much publicized auction. Burton, also at the auction was amazed that during the frantic bidding, he lost to Cartier. He decided he must have the diamond for Liz. Through a negotiator in a pay phone at a hotel bar, he was heard to have said, “I don’t care how much it is; go buy it”. It is not known how much he ultimately paid for the diamond. He wanted it for Liz as an engagement ring and wanted the diamond to be named after them. Elizabeth Taylor had the 69.42 carat pear-shaped diamond placed in a pendant with other pear-shaped diamonds framing her neckline. She wore it to Princess Grace’s fortieth birthday in Monaco. Then in 1978, after Taylor and Burton divorced, she sold her diamond for $2.8 million dollars to finance the building of a hospital in Botswana. It was donated in his memory.

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