Courtesy Christie’s; inset: Andrew H. Walker/Getty
Elizabeth Taylor famously told the world what a “lucky girl” she was when she looked at her jewels. Former Real Housewives of New York star Jill Zarin says she feels just as lucky now that she owns one of them.
Zarin’s husband, Bobby, bought several items his bride picked out at the record-breaking $153 million Elizabeth Taylor auction at Christie’s New York last week, including a light-blue gemstone ring designed by famed jeweler Zorhab Istanboulian. He also bought her a 14-karat gold pillbox from Van Cleef & Arpels, bearing the inscription, “To Elizabeth With Love” on one end and POKER ALICE, the name of her 1987 TV movie with George Hamilton, elsewhere.
Zarin wouldn’t say what her hubby paid for the items, but a rep at Christie’s confirmed that the final bid for the Zorab ring — featuring an ornate, multi-gemstone setting — was $19,000. The final bid for the pillbox, which houses a compartment set with red and blue cabochon stones, was $8,000.
“I’m a huge fan of Elizabeth Taylor,” Zarin tells PEOPLE. “I always have been. I admired her because she was such a loyal friend and because she was the first A-list celebrity to say that HIV/AIDS is not a gay disease and came out to help so many people. Owning some of her pieces is really personal.” She hasn’t received the pieces yet, however. “I’m dying to see that pillbox,” she says. “I liked it because it was engraved to her. You know she used it. It’s something I want to keep forever.”
She bought the ring to give to her daughter, Ally, one day, because its light-blue stone reminds her of her blue eyes. “When I put the ring on, I wonder if it’s going to be a magical experience, knowing that Elizabeth Taylor wore it,” she says. Zarin also believes Elizabeth Taylor designed it herself, since Zorab is a custom jeweler. “I want to believe she designed it with love because the setting has hearts on it,” she says. “I believe it was a happy piece. I need the jewelry that has good karma attached.”
The star pored through the auction catalogs and attended the event on Dec. 15 in anticipation for her new line of jewelry, Jill Zarin Jewelry, which will include a tribute collection inspired by Elizabeth Taylor late next year. Her first limited-edition collection will be on sale exclusively at jillzarinjewelry.com starting Feb 1. Prices range from $28-$150.
What did she learn from most iconic jewelry collector of all time? “Bigger is better,” she says. “Color is great. Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but emeralds are a close second. If you are going to wear a great cocktail ring, people should notice it.” Zarin also hopes she’s able to hang onto Taylor’s storied cocktail ring. “I’m known for losing things,” she says. “Please pray that I don’t lose it.”