Diamonds

Liz Taylor's gems go on a world tour

Sep. 7, 2011 at 8:42 AM ET

Think Ann Curry looked like a million bucks this morning? She did -- after putting on Elizabeth Taylor's emerald and diamond jewels.

She'll have to give it back, of course, to Christie's auction house, who will send Taylor's spectacular sparklers on a world tour through Moscow, London, Dubai, Geneva and more. 

But first, they made a stop in the TODAY studios, where Ann and Savannah Guthrie got a chance to actually wear the precious gems. Many of the pieces were gifts from various men. Liz's second husband, Mike Todd, gave her one diamond and ruby set by a pool in Monte Carlo. A then-pregnant Taylor was so thrilled, she pulled him into the pool and swam laps. 

Those big baubles joined the haul brought in by Rahul Kadakia, head of the Jewelry Department for Christie's America. Here's what the anchors wore:

Ann's tried on a brooch, earrings and necklace. Taylor gradually collected these diamond and sapphire pieces, from Bulgari, and wore them often. The necklace is estimated at between $1 and $1.5 million; the brooch, which Liz often hooked onto the necklace as a pendant, is worth $500,000-$700,000 and the earrings are valued between $150,000-$200,000.

Savannah put on La Peregrina, one of the most famous pieces: Collectors clamor for the pearl drop at the bottom of the necklace, which dates back to the 16th century. Richard Burton bought it for $37,000 in 1969; it's estimated today at $2 to $3 million.

The jewels will return to New York December 3-16, when they'll go on display at the Christie's Rockefeller Center location. A portion of proceeds from the exhibition and publications related to the sales will go to the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. The auction's proceeds go to Taylor's estate.

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