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Taylor-Burton Diamond Tells The History Of The 1900s



 Elizabeth Taylor
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Studio publicity portrait of the American actress Elizabeth Taylor
If there's one gem whose history is intimately entwined with the events of the 20th century, it is the infamous Taylor-Burton diamond. The stone's public life began when it was hacked out of South Africa's Premier Mine, which has since been renamed the Cullinan mine. Though it first weighed 241 carats, it was cut by the late Harry Winston down to just under 70 carats, into a pear shape. When its first owner decided to sell it at auction, it became the first diamond in the history of the world to be publicly sold for over a million dollars. Its purchaser was Robert Kenmore, and he then named the stone after the company he owned, Cartier.


Shortly thereafter, Kenmore sold the diamond to the actors Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor for a paltry $100,000 markup, although he probably gained much valuable publicity from the sale, since the two actors were then the most famous movie stars in Hollywood. Now named the Cartier-Burton Diamond, Taylor wore it publicly on a number of occasions, including the 40th birthday of Monaco's Princess Grace and the 1970 Academy Awards show. Two years after Taylor and Burton divorced in 1976, the stone was auctioned off for $5 million and the funds from the sale were used to build a hospital in Botswana.


Today, diamond mogul Robert Mouawad owns the stone and has recut it down to 68 carats.

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