Taylor Burton Diamond
The best known of the well-publicized gifts Elizabeth Taylor received from her fifth husband, the late Richard Burton, is the Taylor-Burton Diamond. This 69.42-carat pear-shape diamond was cut from a rough stone weighing 240.80 carats found in the Premier Mine in 1966 and subsequently bought by Harry Winston. In 1967, Winston sold the pear-shape diamond to Mrs. Harriet Annenberg Ames, the sister of Walter Annenberg, the American ambassador in London during the Richard Nixon administration. Two years later, she sent the diamond to Parke-Bernet Galleries in New York to be auctioned.
The diamond was put up for auction on October 23rd, 1969, with the understanding that it could be named by the buyer. The winner was Robert Kenmore, the Chairman of the Board of Kenmore Corporation, the owners of Cartier Inc., who paid a record price of $1,050,000 for the gem. It was promptly named the ''Cartier Diamond.''
Richard Burton had been an under-bidder at the sale, but was determined to acquire the diamond. So, speaking from a payphone at a well-known hotel in southern England, he spoke to Mr. Kenmore's agent and negotiated for the gem while continually dropping coins into the phone. In the end, Robert Kenmore agreed to sell it, but on the condition that Cartier was able to display the now named Taylor-Burton diamond.
Miss Taylor wore the Taylor-Burton diamond in public for the first time when she attended Princess Grace's 40th birthday party in Monaco. It was flown from New York to Nice, Italy in the company of two armed guards hired by Burton and Cartier. In 1978, following her divorce from Richard Burton, Miss Taylor announced that she was putting the diamond up for sale and was planning to use the proceeds to build a hospital in Botswana. In June of 1979 Henry Lambert, the New York jeweler, stated that he had bought the Taylor-Burton Diamond for $5,000,000.
By December he had sold the stone to its present owner, Robert Mouawad. Soon after, Mr. Mouawad had the stone slightly re-cut and it now weighs 68.09 carats.