Jessica Chastain Wears Elizabeth Taylor's Necklace to Cannes 'Cleopatra' Premiere
Terry O’Neill/Getty; Dominique Charriau/WireImage
The infamous film Cleopatra was a smashing success for Elizabeth Taylor in at least two ways: It introduced her to two of the loves of her life, Richard Burton and Bulgari jewelry. Burton commemorated the start of his scandalous on-set affair with Taylor by purchasing her a massive emerald ring from the jeweler, which he followed up with a matching necklace and brooch for their engagement a few months later.
So it seems only fitting that Taylor’s Burton-selected Bulgari jewelry would return to the red carpet for a 50th anniversary Cleopatra viewing in Cannes, worn by another great beauty of her time, Jessica Chastain.
PHOTOS: See even more stunning star styles from the Cannes red carpet!
The star chose a simple, elegant Versace Collection gown to highlight the sapphire-and-diamond “sautoir” (with a 65-carat center stone!) bought by Burton for Taylor’s 40th birthday. Part of the eight-piece collection of Bulgari jewels that the house bought back from Taylor’s 2011 Christie’s auction, they’re rarely loaned to celebrities, but as the evening’s co-sponsor, Bulgari made a special exception.
To commemorate the film’s anniversary, Bulgari and 20th Century Fox are donating to the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, as well as co-hosting an afterparty with Chastain, where visitors will be able to see her stunning pieces up close. They include a hand-held turquoise and gold mirror specially commissioned by Taylor’s then-husband Eddie Fisher for her to use in Cleopatra, where she fell in love with Burton.
And if you think Taylor would squirm to think of her most treasured jewels being worn by other stars, a longtime friend of Taylor’s says it’s just the opposite. “Elizabeth was extremely generous with her jewelry,” the friend tells PEOPLE. “She often let trusted friends borrow select pieces she chose especially for them.”
And thought she had many beautiful gowns and baubles, the friend says that there was one thing she treasured above all — and it’s fitting for the event. “Elizabeth had many treasured pieces she kept through the decades, but the most notable was the yellow Irene Sharaff dress she wore when she married Richard Burton,” he shares, adding “Irene Sharaff also designed [her] costumes for Cleopatra.”
Check out a close-up look at the necklace below, and tell us: What do you think of its latest red carpet outing? Which Taylor jewels are your favorite?
–Alex Apatoff, reporting by Liz McNeil