Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but we can’t help but look back at some of the extravagant celebrations of love we’ve seen all around the world. From skywriting, karaoke performances, and chocolates to special dinners, matching couples’ outfits, and customary wedding proposals; since time immemorial, societies as old as Greek mythology have celebrated their relationships with jewelry.
The quintessential symbol of desire, affection, victory, love, promises and memories, jewels have been the universal language of love. The pricier the rock, the grander the gesture!
So let’s look at some of the most expensive jewelry gifts in history.
THE GIFT: The 68-carat Diamond
WORTH: $7 Million
The romance between actors Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton was stuff of legends. Known for his many, many precious gestures of love, Ms. Taylor, Richard Burton wanted to present her with this 68-carat diamond. Although he was outbid at first, he wasn’t one to accept defeat. He went to the highest bidder and bought the piece from him. Elizabeth Taylor subsequently wore it around her neck during the 1970s Academy Awards function.
Where is it now?: Said to have been sold to New York jeweler Henry Lambert, in 1979, who in turn sold it by the end of that year, the diamond was last rumoured to be in Saudi Arabia.
THE GIFT: The Hope Diamond
WORTH: $7.6 Million
The Hope Diamond was bought at $3,00,000 (today’s $7.6 million) by Edward Beale for his socialite wife, Evalyn Walsh. Funnily, Walsh would hang this 45.52 carat blue-gray stone from her dogs collar to amuse her guests. But there’s more to it. Said to carry a curse, the Hope Diamond seems to have brought misfortune, death and misery to its earlier owners.
Where is it now?: The Smithsonian Museum is now the exhibitor of the Hope Diamond, which is now valued at more than $250 million.
THE GIFT: The Emerald Tiara
WORTH: $12.7 Million
This luxuriously jeweled piece was custom-made for German Prince Guido Henckel von Donnersmarck as a gift to his second wife Princess Katharina. The tiara is encrusted with 11 Colombian emeralds. But the real romance lies in the mystery of its origins. Some say the stones are as old as 17th or 18th century, previously owned by an Indian king, and possibly also a part of French Empress Eugenie’s private collection.
Where is it now?: It was last auctioned at Sotheby’s, Geneva, in 2011.
THE GIFT: The Orlov Diamond
WORTH: $200 Million
A large 189.62 carat diamond, which hails from India, the Orlov was gifted by Count Gregory Grigoryevich Orlov to his love Catherine the Great. The story of their affair is as dramatic as the size of this beautiful rock. And Catherine donned the diamond on her sceptre.
Where is it now?: The Diamond Fund of the Moscow Kremlin has it exhibited among other tsarist jewels and relics.