The King and His Jewelry

The King and His Jewelry
Guest Post by Debbie Blair

The King:

Arguably one of the most popular, charismatic and electrifying entertainers in American history, Elvis Presley was born in poverty, yet his international stardom at a young age allowed him to go on to live a lavish lifestyle, complete with a jewelry collection befitting of the King of Rock and Roll.

Elvis started to develop his own sense of style as a teenager, influenced by the gospel singers and other musicians in Memphis, where his parents moved when he was eight years old. In the 1960s, his slicked-back hair and sideburns—a very different look from other teenagers of that era—received much criticism. Yet that famous pompadour set a national trend in men’s hair styles. During this phase of his life, Elvis made a total of 31 movies and became the highest paid actor in Hollywood.

In 1968, Elvis decided to return to his roots as a rock-and-roll singer and performed his televised “Comeback Special.” His famous black leather suit from that performance is now on display at Graceland.

In the 1970s, Elvis regularly performed sold-out shows in Las Vegas in his iconic white jumpsuits. Through the years, each jumpsuit became more elaborate, adorned with gemstones and semi-precious jewels and often incorporating a cape. You can find photos of several of his most elaborate jumpsuits online without having to travel.


Elvis’ Jewelry:

Elvis loved collecting and gifting fine jewelry, and even had a hand in designing his own jewelry. Upon Elvis’s engagement to Priscilla, he purchased a pair of matching horseshoe-shaped diamond engagement rings. Elvis’s platinum wedding band contained a row of eight baguette-cut white diamonds between two rows of eight brilliant-cut diamonds. It has been said that eight was Elvis’s lucky number. For Priscilla, he chose a large diamond surrounded by a detachable halo of smaller stones.

Photographs and footage of Elvis’s concerts during the 70s reveal his lavish diamond cross pendants, large gold chains and bracelets, huge gemstone-encrusted rings on every finger and enormous belts covered in jewels. The look, like the performer, was larger than life, and set the precedent for today’s blinged-out hip-hop and rap artists. In a fascinating Billboard magazine article you can learn about Elvis’s personal jewelry designer.

The most famous jewelry pieces designed by Elvis were the TLC (Tender Loving Care) necklaces, which he handed out to nearly every woman he met, and the TCB (Taking Care of Business) necklaces and rings, which featured a zigzag lightning bolt and inlaid with diamonds, sapphires and emeralds. The TCB necklaces were designed from a sketch that Elvis and his wife, Priscilla, drew on a cocktail napkin and were given only to close members of his entourage, special friends and executives at RCA.

In Person Viewings of Elvis’ Collection:

Graceland has held a number of auctions in recent years as part of the annual festivities commemorating Elvis’ birthday and death, and jewelry that was either worn or gifted by Elvis is often a popular auction item. You can find out what was auctioned off this year. And, of course, replicas can be purchased at the Graceland store.

You can always see more of Elvis’s style through the years online or by taking a trip to Graceland yourself.

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