topline bling

Elizabeth Taylor jewelry
From the former collection of Elizabeth Taylor…not my taste, but the workmanship is impressive

Jill of the blog Everything Just So alerted me to this exhibit at Van Cleef & Arpels in Beverly Hills. Normally ultra high-end jewelry isn’t part of my beat, but when she mentioned that the exhibit featured several pieces from the former private collection of Elizabeth Taylor, I was curious enough to trek over to Rodeo Drive for a look. I had not expected to be able to get this close to the pieces, and in retrospect wish I’d lugged along my DSLR to capture higher quality images.

Van Cleef & Arpels “45 Years in Beverly Hills, A Celebration of Style and Design.”

Elizabeth Taylor jewelry

Elizabeth Taylor earrings

Elizabeth Taylor Jewelry

Ok, so maybe the collection was impressive…

Elizabeth Taylor jewelry

Of all of the Elizabeth Taylor pieces, this brooch below was my favorite.

VCA exhibit 5
I’d wear it… 😉

The sheer size and volume of exquisite stones was breathtaking…

Van Cleef & Arpels

the workmanship awe-inspiring…

Christina Onassis necklace

and the pedigrees notable.

I found myself gazing at each jaw-dropping piece with a sense of wonder.

Van Cleef & Arpels
can you imagine stepping out with this charming bird on your shoulder?


I was very taken with this lion head bracelet; it’s hard to see in this photo but the texture of the mane must have required a great deal of technical skill to achieve. I was surprised to read that it was from the collection of Roy Clark, whom I had not realized was a high-end jewelry collector.

lion head bracelet

Of all of the pieces on display, my very favorite was this Art Deco clip.

Art Deco brooch

There are many, many more pieces on display.

The exhibit at Van Cleef & Arpels is free and open to the public until March 2, 2016.

If you could pick one of these pieces or sets to wear (complete with security detail, bien sur), which would you choose?

Stay in touch

Sign up to be notified of new posts and updates from une femme d’un certain âge.

Affiliate links in posts may generate commissions for See my complete disclosure policy here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. I never wear necklaces but really that 1st set… ! Is it gold , diamonds , turquoise ? Whatever it would go nicely with what I usually wear !

    1. Hi rukshanaafia, according to the brochure it’s gold, chrysoprase (assume those are the green stones) and white and gold diamonds.

  2. The “Ibiza” necklace with amethyst, coral and diamonds is so pretty and wearable, albeit in a very luxe way. I love to pore over the various jewels in the book Elizabeth Taylor wrote, “My Love Affair With Jewelry”. My favorite pieces from that book are the quirky, personal ones like the charm bracelets that commemorate each of her four children, and the gold necklace with enormous vintage ivory medallion-like pieces that she inherited from designer Edith Head…

    Thank you so much for showing some of this wonderful exhibit! Drool-worthy. Makes me think of another great book, “Famous Jewelry Collectors” by Stefano Papi and Alexandra Rhodes. It showcases the extraordinary collections of Paulette Goddard, the Duchess of Windsor, Ava Gardner, the Duchess of Marlborough, etc. etc.

    My favorites from that are the collection of Merle Oberon– stunning rubies, emeralds, diamond clips, heavy on huge turquoises that probably were chosen to enhance her beautiful eyes— and the heart stopping collection of cosmetics magnate Helena Rubinstein. Her style was bold, colorful, with an emphasis on huge stones and one-of-a-kind settings. As an old woman she continued to deck herself out in these stunning pieces and was truly a regal grande dame..

    Love it when you do jewelry posts! Thanks for a fun interlude….

  3. Not sure I could wear any of those pieces as they seem scaled for someone taller than I am, perhaps, but I’d definitely give that peacock a try — I love its starry feathers! And the Art Deco clip is stunning!

  4. Oh, the peacock on a black dress – or a black anything! And the Art Deco clip is very special, too. I’ll take one of each, s’il vous plait!

  5. I am so crazy for this post! Thank you SO MUCH for going to see this exhibit! I did not realize they would have pieces formerly owned by Christina Onassis on display too! I am always impressed by the technical skill that goes into making these pieces–from the stone selecting and cutting to the settings. I love the Liz pieces here! If I could only choose one to wear it would be the bird clip, I am so wild for VCA brooches. I am hoping to own a small vintage one someday. Thank you for linking to me and thank you for being my eyes for this show, I truly appreciate it. I also want to thank Nell above for the mention of a jewelry book she likes, I am going to look for it!

  6. Jaw dropping for sure. What a treat to see these pieces up close! I believe she had quite a few pieces from Cartier. Definetly fit for a queen! I would choose the Ibiza necklace. Just a simple , little piece! Ha!.

  7. I’m more curious about who gave what to whom at the time of acquisition. The stories behind these pieces must be fascinating if not full of gossipy tales of forgiveness bought for indiscretions large and small, or so I would like to think. Then again, if the owner’s just bought them for themselves there goes the fuel for my imagined dramas. I do admire the craftsmanship even though they are way too much flashy for me.

    1. Oops, that should be “way too flashy”. Scrap the “much”. Upon second look that top necklace and earring set with the daisy design reminds me of the swimming caps with the multi-colored rubber flowers adorning the outside that used to be popular back in the early 60’s. I hated having to wear those as a kid.

  8. I love the (ahem) simple diamond brooch and the brilliant ruby beads of the Segovia necklace. . . And now I’ll have to go read about other jewelry collections mentioned! Thanks for the post!

  9. I’m with you and prefer the Art Deco piece. It appears to be very artfully designed and classic while some of the other pieces just seem too ostentatious.

  10. Amazing – and yet, some of those pieces seem almost more like intricate gem display cases than jewelry per se. Thank you for making the effort to get over there!

  11. If I had an Auntie who invited me into her bedroom and requested I pick a piece for her to give me I think I’d go with the first necklace or the Segovia necklace. Then I’d spent the rest of my life figuring out what to wear it with. I suspect it would look great with the plainest of dresses, in a suitable luxury fabric, or with a wild 60s print.

    Jewelry, like scarves. is one of those things that when you see it by itself it can take vision to assemble into a outfit. I have a plain denim trapeze dress that I didn’t wear much last summer and I’m thinking about how to get it into rotation this year. A killer necklace would do the trick. Given that the dress is denim I think I’ll go with an art-fabric material and not Harry Winston.

  12. What a fun post! I adore magnificent gems… to look at but I could never be more than a Kenneth Jay Lane customer and have collected many pieces, mostly earrings, over the last three decades.

    I was given the coffee table book, “My Love Affair with Jewelry” referred to in the Comments above. The pieces which most amazed me were the gaudiest made for “La Liz” as gifts from Michael Jackson. They were obviously on the same page in that Dept.

    During the Palm Beach season, there are a few jewelry and antique shows at the PB Convention Center with vendors from all over the world. As one might imagine, there is a huge concentrated buyer’s market here. I embarrass my poor husband when asking to try on pieces. He walks right out of the booth!

  13. I remember going with my grandmother to Van Cleef and Arpels when I was a girl in the sixties. My gran lived in Beverly Hills and took me on lots of adventures to fabulous places. She also had a great friendship with Liz Taylor’s father and I was the lucky recipient of a few of her childhood things. Thanks for bringing back so many memories!

  14. the craftsmanship is simply exquisite! i’m happy you decided to trek on over to the exhibit and share with us. i’m conjuring up all of the old hollywood glamour. only elizabeth could pull off some of these gems.
    xoxo beth

  15. I too love Elizabeth Taylor’s Book with its many anecdotes. She shares her philosophy that jewelry is really on loan to the current possessor and will go on after that person’s life is over–I guess that’s true for these very expensive pieces. My own philosophy and goal is to wear more of the wonderful (mostly inexpensive but nice) jewelry I own. So far, I am hitting all my benchmarks. Thank you for sharing this exhibit. Mary F.

  16. Works of Art !!!!
    Everything is beautiful and breathtaking !
    Love the Segovia necklace and the Reine
    Marguerite parure should suit me I think ! 🙂
    Tant de travail, tant de maîtrise technique et d’innovation ( le sertissage !), tant de créativité : c’est superbe !

    Merci de m’avoir fait rêver !

  17. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful experience; the ruby an diamond necklaces are fabulous and either one would make my heart sing! 🙂

  18. I would love to have seen the exhibit in person. Elizabeth Taylor is one of the few women who could wear such bold and overwhelming jewelry – and just OWN it. Jewelry didn’t outshine her own personal beauty. My personal favorite of all time was the necklace with the dangling Peregrina pearl.

  19. The Segovia, formerly belonging to Onassis…I can see it with a tee, jeans and a cool black wool crepe blazer. Thanks for sharing–I’m going to try to go see this!!