From Our Archives
“Big women need big diamonds.” — Elizabeth Taylor
69 plus 2 plus 6, and on the seventh day they rested…
In 1969, Oscar Heyman received a call from Kenneth Van Atten, a senior salesman at Cartier in New York City. Richard Burton had just bought a 69 carat diamond for his wife, Elizabeth Taylor, and Cartier wanted to commission Oscar Heyman to design a setting for the spectacular stone. The challenge was they had only 2 hours to prepare their ideas. Later that same day, the celebrated couple would be in a car driving out to Idlewild Airport (now JFK) to fly to Europe. There, in a week’s time, the Burtons were attending a Royal wedding and Ms. Taylor wanted to wear the diamond.
Two hours later, Oscar Heyman submitted six ideas for Mr. & Mrs. Burton to review. Ms. Taylor chose a design showing 67 graduated pear-shaped diamonds — diamonds that had not yet been sourced.
With less than a week to create the necklace, the diamonds, all perfectly matched in shape and quality, were collected and Oscar Heyman craftsmen worked day and night for six days to complete what to this day is the legendary Taylor-Burton Diamond necklace. And on the seventh day, they rested!
In December 1969, Ms. Taylor was featured on the cover of Paris Match wearing the iconic necklace. Nearly 45 years later, the legend still holds. Both the dramatic beauty of the gemstone as well as the beauty of the woman truly are the stuff of legends.