Hollywood actor Richard Burton once told Elizabeth Taylor, “I love to watch your response and that’s why I just love giving you jewellery”. Her emerald-and-diamond necklace, earrings and the famous entremblant brooch were gifts from Burton during their courtship and marriage. After her death, Taylor’s collection was sold at Christie’s New York auction in December 2011 and fetched about $115 million.
This and many such stories about kings, queens and famous actors who were connoisseurs of emerald jewellery, have made it to the coffee-table book titled Emerald (Rs 7,784), commissioned by UK-based Gemfields, which deals in precious metals.
One of the book’s four authors, Joanna Hardy, who has 30 years of experience in gemology, visited Mumbai recently. She has selected more than 200 emerald jewellery pieces to be photographed for the book. Many of these have never been seen at any auction or collection before.
Hardy’s selection for the book includes ornaments owned by Empress Josephine, Napoleon’s first wife, and jewellery owned by the Maharajah of Kapurthala, Jagatjit Singh. The latter commissioned Cartier to make his famous Kapurthala headdress of emeralds and diamonds. He even got a crescent-shaped emerald headgear for his favourite elephant. “But it was destined to be worn by a woman who stole his heart — a Spanish flamenco dancer named Anita Delgado,” says Hardy.
The book is divided into three sections with contributions from editor of Vogue’s Italian edition, Franca Sozzani. The first section gives a history on emeralds, and the second showcases emerald jewellery through time. The third section talks about emerald trade through history.