|Elizabeth Taylor with The Ring|
“It turns out that one of my rivals was Ari Onassis but he chickened out at $700,000,” Burton wrote. “But apart from the fact that I am a natural winner, I wanted that diamond because it is incomparably lovely. And it should be on the loveliest woman in the world. I would have had a fit if it went to Jackie Kennedy or Sophia Loren or Mrs. Huntingdon Misfit of Dallas, Texas.”
Biographer Melvyn Bragg wrote, “The New York Times deplored the crowds outside Cartier’s where it was displayed and lambasted the Burtons for vulgarity. Princess Margaret too thought it vulgar: Elizabeth asked if she would like to try it on: yes please. ‘It doesn’t look so vulgar now, does it?’ said E.T.
“Not much later, John Gielgud went to stay and, helping with the washing-up, found it lying on a draining board next to a saucer. It is also surprising — and something of an insight — to learn that Elizabeth Taylor washed up!”
The diamond didn’t derail the couple’s famous rows for long, however. Two weeks after it arrived, Burton noted, “E., the pot, gave this particular kettle, me, a savage mauling. I was coldly accused of virtually every sin under the sun. Drunkenness (true), mendacity (true), being boring (true), infidelity (untrue), killing myself fairly quickly (true), pride envy avarice (all true), being ugly (true), having once been handsome (untrue) and any other vice imaginable except homosexuality and ungenerousness.”