Many remember the phenomenal Taylor-Burton diamond, the 69-carat, pear-cut diamond bought by the actors Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in 1969. (Taylor wore it briefly as a ring but had it reset as a necklace because of its considerable heft.) What few know is the reason it went on the market at all: Its original owner, Harriet Annenberg Ames, felt she couldn’t wear it in public for fear of being robbed—and letting it sit in a bank vault seemed a waste. Of course, notes Janece White, North American vice president of underwriting and jewelry specialist at Chubb Personal Risk Services, one of the terms of Burton’s million-dollar insurance policy on the diamond was that it spend most of its time in a bank vault—the gem could only be worn 30 days out of the year, and Taylor had to be accompanied by armed guards when wearing it in public.
White recently mentioned the Taylor-Burton diamond in response to speculation about the insurance claims of celebrity Kim Kardashian, who was robbed at gunpoint of nearly $10 million in jewels — including her nearly $5 million, 20-carat diamond ring — when she was staying in a VIP apartment building in Paris. White told Billboard reporters that what Kardashian collects depends on the coverage she had, and whether she was abiding by its terms. “Was it worldwide coverage?” she asked. “Was there a maximum amount of coverage provided while traveling? Were there any restrictions with regard to the security required while traveling with the jewelry?” As with the Burton-Taylor diamond, some policies require that the jewelry be kept in a secure hotel safe during travel (not in the room safe, which is less secure).
For valuables such as jewelry, experts recommend personal property insurance that goes beyond standard homeowner’s coverage, which often caps the limits for valuables at around $5,000. Look for features such as those on Chubb’s Valuable Articles policy: It provides worldwide coverage with no deductible for most causes of loss; inflation protection (which may pay up to 150% of the amount of the policy to account for inflation); and automatic coverage—up to $50,000—for newly acquired items for 90 days if you have already itemized jewelry on your policy.
The more information you can provide to insurance companies, the better they can assist you. Keep an up-to-date appraisal in a secured area. The appraisal should include type of jewelry, what it’s made of, the gemstones used and how they are graded. It should be signed by a graduate gemologist or diamond gemologist and dated by the appraiser. Condition must be included in the assessment; a specialist should appraise rare pieces. Check in with your policy expert on a regular basis to keep pace with market fluctuations. Particularly with rare or large collections, values can change dramatically.
Regardless of your jewelry’s insurance policy’s specific terms, always adhere to these general safety rules: When traveling, keep your expensive items with you at all times, or use the hotel vault (not the room safe, as mentioned earlier). Don’t pack jewelry in your luggage or wear valuables to less secure areas like the pool or beach.
Finally, if you love dazzling while you travel, but don’t want the worry or extra security, follow Elizabeth Taylor’s example and consider investing in “travel jewelry.” Taylor had a replica made of her renowned diamond—at $2,800, it cost a fraction of the real McCoy and likely made her trips more carefree.