Hollywood icon Dame Elizabeth Taylor—also a legendary jewelry collector—is now a jewelry designer in her own right. The actress, whose designs are the driving force behind House of Taylor Jewelry, made a surprise appearance at the LUXURY by JCK show, causing quite a stir among attendees who crowded around to get a glimpse of the famous violet-eyed actress.
In an exclusive interview with JCK, Dame Elizabeth talked about her lifelong passion for jewelry and what encouraged her to add “designer” to her resume.
JCK: What inspired you to become a jewelry designer?
Dame Elizabeth Taylor: I’ve created jewelry all my life. Usually it’s been pieces for myself or loved ones. When Jack and Monty Abramov asked me to design a collection, the idea quickly grew into our little company, House of Taylor Jewelry.
JCK: How do you get your ideas for each of the individual pieces?
DET: The first piece of this collection came to me in a dream. It was a dream of a rose wrapping itself around my throat. The moment my eyes opened, I began to sketch, and now the rose collection is one of our signatures.
JCK: You’re in a fortunate position to be able to buy any kind of jewelry you want, but what would you suggest to ordinary women who can’t afford as much as they might like?
DET: No woman is “ordinary!” Every woman is special. When we created this company, I knew Kathy Ireland would design what every woman can afford. We work together on the House of Taylor collection, and I design the Elizabeth collection, which is couture. (Editor’s note: House of Taylor also produces the Kathy Ireland collection of jewelry.)
JCK: How should a woman begin building a jewelry collection? What are the building blocks?
DET: It [the first piece] should be something that takes your breath away. It’s not about which specific pieces [to build a collection], but rather it must speak to your heart and make you dream. The important thing to know about jewelry is that you never really own it; you’re simply a custodian of beautiful things. So if you love it, you can’t make a mistake.
JCK: What was the first piece of jewelry you ever bought?
DET: It was costume, and it was for my mother. It was quite beautiful.
JCK: Your collection now is legendary. What’s your favorite piece?
DET: The Krupp [diamond]. It’s my baby. And two of my new designs, Frost, and Waterfall.
JCK: What pieces should a woman wear every day?
DET: Everything! I may put the Taj Mahal diamond over a sweater and wear jeans. People worry too much about perfection. Jewelry is to be enjoyed every day.
JCK: What can jewelers do to make sure their customers are as inspired by jewelry as you are?
DET: My advice to jewelers is the same as to women collectors—buy the best you can, and don’t keep it a secret. Whether you’re a retailer or a collector, set aside a budget and keep at it. Once people know you have interesting pieces, they become inspired, and whatever [else] you have suddenly becomes interesting.
JCK: Any final thoughts to leave with women?
DET: Jewelry is something that strikes a chord in you, or it doesn’t. But that chord can set you all a-quiver.