Dame Elizabeth Taylor Muses on Jewelry

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?
: 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?
: It was costume, and it was for my mother. It was quite beautiful.

JCK: Your collection now is legendary. What’s your favorite piece?
: 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?
: Jewelry is something that strikes a chord in you, or it doesn’t. But that chord can set you all a-quiver.

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