Famous Works by Alfred Durante

The Taylor-Burton Diamond

It is one of the most famous jewelry designs in all the world. Its notoriety came in part from the amazing 69.42 carat diamond,and from the legend, Liz Taylor, who wore it...and, from the equally famous husband who was determined to purchase this prize jewelry creation and make it his ultimate gift of love.

The Taylor-Burton Diamond

She was absolutely stunning... the epitome of glamor, and Liz's love of jewelry was almost as renowned as her celebrated screen career. Now, it was up to me to create a new design that would do justice to her amazing beauty and her very high standards.

Their beauty and brilliance were legendary. There was Elizabeth Taylor, the celebrated film goddess adored by audiences and her many suitors. Then there was the amazing 69.42 carat gemstone, at the time, the world's most expensive diamond. To bring these two larger-than-life luminaries together, I envisioned a jewelry piece that would transform from a gorgeous ring to a stunning necklace.

My rendering ability certainly came to good use while working with Elizabeth Taylor on her famous diamond necklace. A lover of fine jewelry, she had lots of ideas about what she wanted and I was only too glad (who wouldn't be) to sketch them out for her.

But my final design only became clear when I realized I needed to create a piece that, even under the glare of the spotlight and under the presence of great beauty, would be its own star. Ms. Taylor knew it too and, as soon as she saw the final sketch, she signed off on it. Of course, I am thrilled that it became one of her favorite pieces.

Liz only wore it on very special occasions and, when she did, she had to have security for insurance purposes. And when she wasn't wearing it, her diamond jewelry was in our vault at Cartier.

Le Peregrina Pearl

Working with this famous pearl, which was worn by Mary, Queen of Scots, was like holding a piece of history in my hand.

I've had the good fortune to create designs for numerous celebrities, and I've also had the opportunity to work with some fabulous and fabled gems. One of my most memorable designs brought the two together -- a gem of royal heritage and a woman who was the very epitome of Hollywood royalty during its most glamorous age.

The star was Elizabeth Taylor and the gem was the Peregrina pearl -- the largest, perfectly symmetrical pearl in all the world. Ms. Taylor, who was known for her love of jewelry, had admired the piece in a famous painting done in the 15th century of Mary, Queen of Scots. And when the pearl became available at auction, she knew she had to have it.

But it wasn't enough for Elizabeth to simply own this magnificent gem. She wanted to have a setting -- a jewelry design -- befitting the pearl's historical importance but with a more updated look. So she brought it to Cartier, and to me, to create a piece that would equal its legendary status... and, of course, in my mind, to equal the beauty and renown of the woman who would now wear it -- Elizabeth Taylor.

Almost tragically, and yet a bit humorously, the pearl just about didn't make to Cartier and to me for the final design. I was told that, after the auction and while still under armed guard, the pearl became lost in Ms. Taylor's hotel suite. Elizabeth was frantic, but she felt she couldn't admit to losing it. So she retraced her steps, looking everywhere, when she noticed that one of her dogs was chewing on a bone. But she didn't give the dog a bone!

Moments later, viola!... the pearl was retrieved from the dog's mouth, unharmed. The rest was up to me... to design a necklace with the just the right gemstones, in just the right setting, with just the right drop that would complement the celebrated Peregrina pearl and the celebrated beauty, Elizabeth Taylor. When Liz finally parted with her beloved pearl necklace, it sold at auction for $11.8 million the highest price paid for any pearl.

Princess Grace's Engagement Ring and Wedding Band

Not just any set of ring, it was the engagement ring and wedding band for Grace Kelly, admired as an award-winning actress, a woman beauty, grace and style, and now her Highness, The Princess of Monaco.

Engagement Ring and Wedding Bands for Princess Grace and Prince Rainer

Before she became a real Princess, she was our princess of the silver screen. A woman of extraordinary beauty and grace, Grace Kelly instantly enchanted audiences from her first movie, Fourteen Hours, to Dial M for Murder, To Catch a Thief and The Swan. At the Cannes Film Festival in France, it was Prince Rainer III who fell under her spell, describing her as the ideal bride. So it was no surprise when their glamorized courtship led to a very public and ornate wedding.

It was certainly an honor to play a small part in the weddings of the century, designing not only the engagement ring but also the wedding bands for Princess Grace and Rainer.

Designs for the Silver Screen

Alfred's designs not only played significant roles in many notable films, his designs also influential in the fashion world.

Jewelry Created for The Great Gatsby

As I've mentioned, I always had a fascination with the theater, and with costume and set designs. So it was with great delight that I found the chance to work with some of Hollywood's most highly regarded costume designers. One such opportunity was with the movie the The Great Gatsby, where I created jewelry pieces for Mia Farrow's character, Daisy Buchanan, and others. My jewelry designs, which were well received by those involved in this film that took place in the jazz age of the 1920s, also became were extremely influential in the fashion world. The very geometric and art deco designs of the Roaring 20s were just reemerging, and with this film, they came roaring back.

For Marilyn Monroe

I worked with Marilyn Monroe on a couple occasions. My favorite was a piece of earrings that she wore to premier of The Prince and the Showgirl.

Jewelry Designs and More

Dolls, awards, priceless party favors it always had Alfred Durante's eye for distinctive design.

Working with Mattel, Alfred created a line of Barbie dolls, the Royal Jewels Barbie collection. Prominently featuring bedazzled jewelry pieces, each doll is named after the prominent stone she is displaying. The collection, the best selling set of dolls during its year of promotion has also become a collector favorite. A pristine set containing all four can sell for up to $800.

Alfred spent several years after Cartier as the head of design for the Franklin Mint, where he produced several exceptional products that are still hot in auctions to this day.

A few of the other notables:

And still others who own Alfred Durante custom designs