Music legend Elvis Presley loved his jewelry — the bigger, the bolder and more flamboyant, the better.
This past Thursday, Graceland — the Memphis home of Presley — auctioned a number of authenticated jewelry items that were either worn, or gifted, by The King of Rock and Roll. The auction coincided with Elvis Week, an annual commemoration of his passing on August 16, 1977.
Presley famously wore over-the-top rings and pendants, and his generosity to those close to him was legendary. He often gifted jewelry to friends, colleagues and staff. It wouldn't be unusual for Presley to wear a favorite piece and then present it to a staffer or fan who admired it.
One of the top lots of the auction was a diamond and 14-karat yellow gold pendant Presley gave to his dear friend and fellow entertainer, Sammy Davis Jr. The lightning-bolt pendant is designed with the black enamel initials "TCB" for "Taking Care of Business," the name of Presley's band. The lightning bolt boasts 15 diamonds, measuring approximately 1.0 to 2.0 mm and weighing approximately 0.60 carats. The unique piece sold for $40,000, which was $10,000 more than the high estimated price.
The "TCB" pendant was apparently not the only jewelry item gifted to Davis by Presley. The Graceland Auctions web site noted that "Elvis gave Sammy a black [star] sapphire ring and told him, 'This is the biggest black star I've ever seen so I'm giving it to the biggest black star I know.'"
The highest-priced jewelry item from the Graceland Auctions event was a tourmaline and diamond ring that Presley wore and then gifted to his girlfriend, Linda Thompson. The ring has 20 round diamonds with a total weight of 1.75 carats. It also features 22 marquise-cut green tourmalines and one large, dark-colored, radiant-cut center tourmaline. The estimated price was $25,000 to $35,000, but it ended up selling for $47,500.
On the 10-year anniversary of Presley's death, the National Enquirer obtained the ring and made it the grand prize of a contest. The lucky winner was a subscriber from Texas. Later it became the property of the owner of a construction company, who won the ring in a poker game.
Here are some other notable jewelry lots from the Graceland Auctions event...
This 14-karat yellow gold owl ring was gifted by Presley to audience member Connie Murray Denny during his concert at Sahara's Showroom in Lake Tahoe in May of 1973. The 14-karat yellow gold ring in the shape of an owl's head has diamond-studded feathers and black star sapphire eyes. The item sold for $32,500, exactly $12,500 more than the high estimate.
Denny recounted her memorable encounter with The King...
"I was sitting stage side and Elvis' girlfriend at the time, Linda Thompson, was sitting near me. During the show Elvis threw out a red scarf. My friend had it in her hands when another girl grabbed a hold to take claim of it. Neither one of them were going to give it to the other, so I took the scarf and ripped it in half and gave each of them a half," she wrote. "I believe that Elvis saw this gesture and at the end of the show he went along the stage shaking hands. He then came over and motioned for me to stand up so I did. He leaned over and gave me a kiss as he took my hand and put the ring in it. I said you dropped this in my hand. He smiled and bowed with his cape wide open and said, 'No. I gave it to you.' At first, I didn't realize what he had done. I turned to Linda Thompson who was still at the table and showed her the ring and said that Elvis must have accidentally let this slip off his finger. She assured me it was no accident..."
This 22-karat gold pinky ring features 15 round diamonds weighing approximately .60 carats. The sides of the ring are engraved with the initials "E" and "P" on a textured ground. The ring was worn by Presley until he gifted it in the 1960s to a member of his inner circle, Richard Davis, who was not only his wardrobe manager but also a stuntman and stand-in. This piece sold for $27,500.
More than 40,0000 fans converged on Graceland during Elvis Week festivities. The U.S. Postal Service also marked the occasion by releasing a new "Forever" stamp bearing the black-and-white likeness of the late singer.
Jewelry Credits: auction.graceland.com; Facebook/ElvisPresleysGraceland.