Famous Jewelry In The Movies, Vol. 10: Cleopatra
If you are a true jewelry lover, then you know one of the greatest collectors of all time was Elizabeth Taylor. Richard Burton was coined as saying, “I introduced Elizabeth to beer. She introduced me to Bulgari. The only word Elizabeth knows in Italian is Bulgari.” Taylor and Burton met on the set of Cleopatra and history was made.
Not only did the movie break production spending records ($44M then, which would equate to over $300M in today’s dollars) and almost bankrupt 20th Century Fox but it also ignited the now infamous Burton/Taylor love affair. An affair so steamy and torrid, it prompted The Vatican to denounce the couple as “erotic vagrancy.” And while the film had amazing costumes (65 costume changes for Taylor alone) most of the jewelry, even the iconic serpent armband that’s oh so reminiscent of a Bulgari motif, was costume.
Taylor’s 24kt gold cloth cape, designed to look like the wings of a phoenix, was made of tiny straps of leather, encrusted seed beads, bugle beads and bead anchored sequins. There were fake headdresses, armbands, breastplates and crowns all glittering about. But the real jewels of Cleopatra, were those acquired off-screen.
While Burton’s mistress and then later his wife, Elizabeth Taylor was bestowed with sparkling gift after sparkling gift from Burton. Heck, even her husband at the time of the filming, a heartbroken Eddie Fisher, whose marriage to Carrie Fisher’s mom, Debbie Reynolds, Taylor had broken up, tried to woo Elizabeth back with yellow diamond jewelry from Bulgari, taking a page from Richard Burton’s playbook.
But alas, it was to no avail. Burton had already won – perhaps solely via his choice of baubles. Which is your favorite? Tell us in the comments below.