“I’ve never thought of my jewellery as trophies,” Elizabeth Taylor once said. “I’m here to take care of it and to love it, for we are only temporary custodians of beauty.”
Very few women loved their jewels as much as Elizabeth did. For decades the undisputable queen of tinsel town, the Hollywood star became the greatest ambassador for high jewellery. One of her favourite jewellers was Harry Winston, from whom she bought and borrowed many stunning pieces, which she would wear at red carpet events and private parties alike. The most famous is probably the Taylor-Burton diamond, gifted to Elizabeth by her then-husband, Richard Burton, which she first wore at the Oscars in 1970.
Archive image of the Conch pearl set worn by Elizabeth Taylor in 1985. The main pearl on the necklace weighed 45 carats, making it the largest pink conch pearl in the world at the time.
Less notorious, but equally enchanting, was a set of pink and salmon conch pearls by Harry Winston that she wore in 1985. Conch pearls are produced by the Queen Conch mollusc and are found in various areas of the Caribbean. They come in a variety of colours, from yellow, brown, golden and white, to salmon and pink – the most desirable of them all and as you’d expect, the most difficult to find. Any above 10 carats are considered incredibly rare. The one worn by Elizabeth Taylor was 45 carats, the largest gem-quality pink conch pearl on record at the time, and among the largest ever discovered.
The House of Harry Winston has found inspiration in this one-of-a-kind set for its Dame Necklace & Earrings suite, part of its Royal Adornments collection, based on the numerous gems of extraordinary value and royal provenance that passed through the hands of Mr Harry Winston over the years, with a focus on coloured gems. Rubies, sapphires, emeralds, Paraiba tourmalines and conch pearls, along with diamonds, are transformed into exquisite jewellery with a modern flair, fit for a queen.
The Dame Necklace stars a 41.95 carat pink conch pearl, set in a cascade of diamonds, mostly round except for the collarbone area, where the marquise cut has been favoured, to emphasise the sensuality of the “beauty bone”.
The Dame Necklace brings the beauty and warmth of conch pearls to life in a timeless design that looks as current today as Elizabeth Taylor’s did all those decades ago. The star of the show, a 41.95 carat pink conch pearl, is expertly set in a dramatic cascade of diamonds, as a pendant on a classic necklace, with side-set diamonds along the collarbone.
Following the iconic cluster design by Harry Winston, the Dame Earrings feature diamond accents paired with oval-shaped rubies and 12 conch pearl beads in different shades of pink.
The Dame Earrings combine sparkling diamonds with rubies and pink conch pearl beads in a colourful interpretation of the iconic Winston Cluster Earrings. The House’s signature design style was established in the 1940s, setting pear-shaped, marquise and round brilliant diamonds at varying angles to create sculptural, multi-dimensional designs that capture the light from all directions. In this pair, 12 conch pearls in different shades of pink to add depth and volume, are anchored by two oval-shaped rubies, along with diamond cluster accents.
Words: Julia Pasarón