Bettina’s Take: Elizabeth Taylor’s Bulgari Jewelry Love Affair

The excitement surrounding the Elizabeth Taylor auction at Christie's continues. Bulgari hosted a lunch in honor of Save Venice to celebrate the Bulgari jewelry being sold in the auction.

Taylor had amassed quite the Bulgari collection, many of the pieces during the filming of Cleopatra in Rome.

"Elizabeth Taylor was a fashion icon, an actress, someone who loved jewelry and life," said Marco Tatarella, head of sales at Bulgari's Fifth Avenue store in New York City, as he introduced a fascinating slide show about the Taylor/Bulgari relationship, including rare photos of Gianni Bulgari showing jewelry to Taylor in the "money room"—the private salon at the back of the store in Rome reserved for exclusive clients.

Taylor owned the entire Grand Duchess Vladimir Suite (some of which is pictured above), an exquisite collection of Colombian emeralds and diamonds. Her fourth husband, Eddie Fisher, bought her the earrings and tiara. Her fifth husband, Richard Burton, completed the set with a brooch, a ring, a necklace and a bracelet.

"Taylor was such a great actress and an incredible person," said luncheon co-host Dayssi Kanavos, in a black J.Mendel dress and Bulgari jewelry. "She must have been attracted to all of this drama. All of this energy must have led her to build this great jewelry and clothing collection, often made to measure and put together in such specific ways. She was really an expert on living life. She wasn't afraid of the drama and the pain."

"A lot of people don't know about the relationship between Taylor and Bulgari," said co-host Adelina Wong Ettleson, in Lanvin. "It's great that Bulgari will give us a short lecture and give us the inside scoop."

We did indeed get some scoop: The famous snake watch, estimated in the catalog to be worth between $12,000 and $15,000, has already generated interest from clients willing to pay up to $150,000 for the privilege of owning a piece of Liz.

This behavior would surely not have come as a surprise to the iconic Taylor. As she said herself, "The importance of the jewelry is emotional and psychological. Nobody ever owns anything this beautiful. ... We are only the guardians."

Photo: Emerald and diamond pieces from Elizabeth Taylor's Grand Duchess Vladimir Suite by Bulgari