Sep 21, 2018

The 5 Most Extravagant Gifts In History

Have you ever been tempted to make a really extravagant gesture? Perhaps a declaration of love to the object of your affections, or a proposal with real impact? This month, we’re looking at how the truly rich spend their millions and the extravagant gifts they buy their loved ones and associates. Perhaps it will inspire you to do the same!

The last Maharaja of the Sikh Empire gifted Queen Victoria the 186 carat Koh-i-noor diamond back in 1849. The biggest diamond ever found, it was nearly 4 times the size of the Hope diamond. Albert did decide it was a little dull and cut it down to 106 carats, but it is still the largest diamond in the world and its value is priceless. It was set in the Queen Mother’s crown and can be seen today in the Tower of London.

In 1917, Morton Plank traded his mansion on Park Avenue for a $1 million pearl necklace for his young wife. Grand though this declaration of adoration was, after Mikimoto bought in cultivated pearls, the necklace dropped in value considerably, and was sold after his wife’s death for a meagre $150,000. You can still visit his mansion today - it is the flagship store of Cartier in New York, where the original necklace was bought from.

In the height of their love, Richard Burton went into a bidding war for a 68 carat diamond to gift to Elizabeth Taylor -- as he was up against the Sultan of Brunei and Cartier, he unfortunately lost. Desperate to give this token to his love, he offered Cartier, the eventual winner, $1 million to buy it outright. Delighted though she was, when they eventually divorced, Burton sold the diamond for $6.6 million and donated the proceeds to build a new hospital in Botswana. At least something good came of it!

Though lost now, one of the most extravagant gifts in British history was a table fountain Anne Boleyn gifted to Henry VIII. Essentially a fancy finger bowl, this extravagant water feature was made from gold and silver and encrusted from top to bottom with rubies, diamonds and other precious jewels. One suggestion is that he had it destroyed after her execution in a fit of anger. Thankfully a drawing by Hans Holbein still survives today showing the incomparable beauty of the fountain.

A somewhat cuter gift to represent unity was from the Chinese government to President Nixon; two giant pandas, a male and female to symbolise the growing relationship between the two countries. Supposedly pandas were the President’s wife’s favourite animal, and she used to visit them frequently at the zoo.

Not many of us can hope to match these incredible gifts, but the intention can certainly be replicated -- if your wife loves pandas, why not get her a cuddly toy? Or perhaps, a unique floral gift to show her just how special and unique she really is?