To celebrate Valentine’s day, this month’s brooch is the ‘Heart of Hollywood’ designed by Elizabeth Taylor for Avon.  From 1993 to 1997 Elizabeth Taylor collaborated with Avon in the USA on a collection of costume jewellery. Elizabeth was famous for being meticulous and demanding, she supervised every detail of the design and manufacture of the pieces bearing her name.

A contemporary advert with Elizabeth Taylor modelling the ‘Heart of Hollywood’ brooch

Avon sold the jewellery line through their travelling representatives going ‘door to door’ with their trade mark phrase “Avon Calling”

This video is from 1956

Avon was established by David H. McConnell in 1886, a travelling book salesman in America.  To aid his sales McConnell offered free samples of homemade rose-scented perfume. Finding the perfume interested the ladies more than the books, he began selling perfume.  In 2019 the company was bought by the Brazilian firm Natura.

McConnell (pictured on the left in 1905) recruited women to act as sales’ representatives going around their local communities.  The first Avon lady was Persis Foster Eames Albee, known as PFE Albee (1836 – 1914).

 

 

 

PFE Albee in 1886, dressed for work carrying her sample case.

 

 

Elizabeth Taylor was a wonderful example of the triumph of hope over experience as far as believing in romance and everlasting love.  Elizabeth was married eight times, including twice to Richard Burton. She collected jewellery throughout her life, Richard Burton gave her some spectacular pieces including the 33.10 caret Krupp diamond, the 69.42 Taylor-Burton diamond and the 50 carat La Peregrina Pearl.  The Peregrina Pearl was once owned by the Spanish monarchy and has a history of over 500 years.

Margaret of Austria, Queen of Spain by Juan Pantoja de la Cruz c1606