24 April 2014

Tiara Thursday: The Mike Todd Diamond Tiara

The Mike Todd Tiara
Most of the tiaras we cover here are known for their association with royalty or nobility, but this one's a little different: it's known because of its association with Hollywood royalty. It was given to Elizabeth Taylor by her third husband, Mike Todd, in 1957. The tiara dates from around 1880 and is made of old mine-cut diamonds mounted in platinum and gold in a design that includes central scroll motifs topped by single diamonds and separated by latticework.
Mike Todd was a theater and film producer who was married to Taylor for just over a year - from February 1957 to March 1958, when he tragically died in a plane crash in New Mexico. Taylor later wrote that when he presented her with the tiara the year they married, he said, "You're my queen, and I think you should have a tiara." He lavished jewels on Taylor during their time together, from the 29.4 carat diamond engagement ring she referred to as her "skating rink" to the Cartier ruby and diamond set he gave her while she was lounging in the pool wearing this very tiara.
More gifts from Todd: Diamond earrings, and a ruby set from Cartier
She wore them all, sporting the tiara for the first time at the 1957 Academy Awards, where Todd's film Around the World in 80 Days won Best Picture. She also wore it at the Cannes Film Festival that same year and at events after Todd's death as well. It didn't matter that tiaras weren't particularly fashionable at many of the events she would attend - she wore it, and she made it look right at home.

Video: Taylor in the tiara at the Oscars with Mike Todd. At the end, footage from his funeral is shown.
The Taylor jewelry collection was auctioned after her death, with a portion of the proceeds going towards her AIDS foundation. The now-famous auction was held in December 2011, and included the Mike Todd Diamond Tiara. It carried an estimated price of just $60,000 - $80,000, but bidders were enthusiastic throughout the sale and in the end the tiara sold for $4,226,500. Its current whereabouts are unknown.

Would you have sprung for this tiara? Assuming you had a few spare million sitting around, of course...

Photos: Christie's/TimeLife/Art