No person of royalty would fully reign without a substantial jewelry collection. Elvis took this to heart, especially toward the end of his life.
Even in his early days as a rock star gone military heartthrob, Elvis was fond of watches and rings. In later years, as his larger than life presence grew, Presley was rarely seen without some significant gold or diamond encrusted adornment, often in necklace form.
In honor of what would have been his 81st birthday this Friday, here’s a look at a few of the King’s most memorable and iconic jewelry pieces.
“Taking care of business” is widely known as one of Elvis’ most influential mottos, and this “TCB” 16-carat diamond ring is arguably the most recognizable piece in his extension collection. Characterized by a massive 11.5-carat center diamond solitaire set against a black backdrop, the diamond-encrusted letters are encased on either side by lightning bolts. It’s been said he would often secure it to his finger with tape before greeting his fans to prevent its theft. Makes sense when you consider the ring was also the most expensive custom made piece he’d ever commissioned. With a total of 56 diamonds, including its sizeable center, it’s estimated he would have paid the equivalent of $163,000 today.
Opal Pinky Ring – Elvis Style
Elvis was often seen wearing this impressive vintage opal ring on his pinky finger during performances. The 14KT gold stunner features more than 1.25 carats of VS diamonds highlighting its massive center. One now famous photo shows Presley wearing it in front of a banner which read “Elvis for President” in 1974. When sold at auction, it was ultimately purchased for more than $20,000.
Gemstone Encrusted Cross Necklace
During the 1970s, Elvis was most widely recognized for his gemstone covered jumpsuits and equally loud jewelry choices. This multi-color gemstone cross necklace is one of the more iconic pieces from his days as a Las Vegas performer. Comprised of more than 200 quarter-cut diamonds in white gold, this quintessential Elvis pendant was a gift from then girlfriend, Linda Thompson. Its center stones are fashioned in the shape of garnet and emerald hearts that represent their respective birthstones and enduring love for one another.
Hebrew Chai Charm Necklace
Few people actually realize that Elvis comes from a Jewish bloodline. Though he didn’t actively practice Judaism, he did have some strong ties to the religion. Presley was often seen wearing this Hebrew Chai necklace. The diamond-encrusted pendant contains letters from the Hebrew alphabet which spell out “yod”, translating to “life.” He once told Charlie Hodge that he wore the pendant because he, “didn’t want to miss out on going to heaven on a technicality”. In fact, Elvis was said to have been this Chai symbol on the evening he passed.
At the time his estate was settled, Presley’s was said to have hundreds of watches among his large jewelry collection. In an article published by the Hollywood Reporter, his serious girlfriend Linda Thompson recalls their first encounter saying, “The first time I met him, at the Memphian theater, he used the diamond-encrusted watch he was wearing to start a conversation with me. It was a great icebreaker!”. The now infamous Omega Constellation Calendar he owned for many years went for a whopping $37,000 at auction in December 2014.
It seems the King of Rock and Roll was also the definitive King of jewelry. No one pulled off a fist full of diamond rings and elaborate pendant necklaces quite like him. We can only imagine that in his old age he would have remained true to his timeless love of expensive watches, gold accouterments and diamond stones.