Daily Archives: May 29, 2011

Elvis’ Fabulous Rings — Part 1

The next time you look at concert photos of Elvis in his jumpsuits, check out his fingers.  You will note that he usually has three or four rings on each hand.  Elvis must have really loved rings, but he was also very generous with them and gave many away.  Because of that, quite a few have ultimately ended up at rock and roll memorabilia auctions.  During the past three years alone, thirteen Elvis rings have been offered at ten different auctions. 

 

Diamond Owl Ring:

This ring sold at the first auction I followed, the Gotta Have Rock and Roll Auction in April 2009.  Its owner let it go at a time that turned out to be the peak of high demand for Elvis jewelry, as it brought in over $44,000.  From that point on, the effects of the economic downturn seems to have made bidders much more cautious, and the winning prices for Elvis rings have steadily declined.   This is an outstanding custom-made ring with all those diamonds and a mess of 14KT gold.  The Elvis Owl Ring’s value was enhanced by an accompanying 8”x10” color photo of Elvis (with little Lisa on his knee) wearing the ring.

 

Green Cat’s Eye Ring:

There were two Elvis rings at the Julien’s Summer Sale auction in June 2009.    This fabulous green cat’s eye ring went for over $28,000.

 

Blue Lapis Ring:

 

Elvis was noted for his generosity to employees, friends and even complete strangers.  He gave both rings on auction at Julien’s Summer Sale to Dr. Nick, his personal physician and friend.  This gold, diamond and lapis stone ring topped out at over $33,000.

 

Crystal Opal Ring:

There was another Elvis ring at the next Gotta Have Rock and Roll Auction in March 2010.  This time it was a massive 14KT gold vintage ring featuring a beautiful crystal opal surrounded by approximately 1.25ct of diamonds.  Elvis bought it from Thunderbird Jewelers in Las Vegas in the early 70s, and he wore it both on and off stage for years.  Accompanied by a fuzzy color photo of Elvis wearing it at the Las Vegas Hilton in July 1974, it brought in over $20,000 at the auction.

Onyx and Diamond Ring: 

It is unclear if this is a personal ring or a movie ring, because the only supporting photo is a shot of Elvis wearing it in The Trouble With Girls.  It went for over $15,000 at the Julien’s Music Icons Auction in June 2010.  Elvis gave this gold, diamond and onyx ring to his Memphis Mafia buddy Alan Fortas, but it is now in the hands of a private collector.

Opal and Diamond Ring:

The Ultimate Elvis Auction was presented in Memphis by Heritage Auctioneers during Elvis Week 2010.  It contained a treasure trove of Elvis memorabilia, including this stunning opal ring which they proclaimed was one of his favorites.  The 24 x 20 mm opal is surrounded by 34 full cut diamonds.  It came with a letter of provenance from famed jeweler Lowell Hayes who originally sold it to Elvis.  Also included was a five-page appraisal from the Chicago Gem Lab.  With all this pedigree, the auction estimate was $50,000, but no one cared to even bid the minimum of $25,000.  We will probably see this ring at auction again, but with a lower minimum bid.

 

Diamond Roundel Ring:

Guerney’s was the third auction company to offer Elvis rings in 2010.  In September, this 14KT gold ring with seven diamonds had an estimated winning bid of $30 – $40,000.  It came with photographs of Elvis wearing the ring, a history of ownership, and a certificate of authenticity.  However, that was not enough to coax the minimum bid out of anyone.  The trend toward lower prices for Elvis rings was now very evident.

Horseshoe Ring:

Julien’s had another chance with an Elvis ring in October 2010.  The 14KT cast horse head has two diamonds for the eyes, and the silver horseshoe around its neck contains 18 diamonds.  It was designed after Elvis’ beloved horse Rising Sun.  This time, Julien’s set the starting bid at just $8,000 with an estimate of $12,000.  Unfortunately, I failed to follow up quickly enough before auction results were removed from their website, so I don’t know what it went for.

Black Star Sapphire Ring:

In February, 2011, Heritage had their Beverly Hills Signature Music and Entertainment Auction.  It featured this large black star sapphire and eight diamonds in a 14KT gold nugget setting.  According to the auction catalog, black star sapphire was one of Elvis’ favorite stones, and he had many pieces made with it.  He gave this ring to tour promoter Tom Hulett who provided a letter of authenticity and several photos of Elvis wearing the ring.  It sold for over $13,000.

 

Navaho Turquoise Ring:

Gotta Have Rock and Roll had a trio of Elvis Rings in its March 2011 auction, including this authentic Native American ring.  It has elaborate silver work accented with turquoise and red coral stones.  In the early 70s, turquoise rings were very popular, and Elvis had several.  One day Elvis realized he had so many and said to Charlie Hodge, “What am I going to do with so many turquoise rings?”  He solved the problem by giving this ring to Charlie.  With a letter of provenance from Charlie and a photo of Elvis wearing the ring, it brought 0ver $5,000.  This is actually is a hefty price for an Elvis ring with no gold or diamonds in it.

 

Opal and Gold Ring:

   

This is the second Elvis ring from the March 2011 auction.  It is also the third Opal ring we have looked at in this photo essay, and the auction guide says opals were one of Elvis’ favorite stones.  It is difficult to see, but there are also a number of small diamonds set in the 14KT gold, and it sold for almost $5,000.  Did you notice something wrapped around the shank of this ring.  It is a Band-Aid.  Elvis had many of his rings sized larger, so he could use Band-Aids to vary which figure he could wear them on.  When the market for Elvis collectibles picks up steam again, the new owner of this ring could probably take the Band-Aid off and get $50 for it an auction.

 

Gold and Blue Lapis Ring:

   

This ring provides another story illustrating Elvis’ amazing generosity.  He wore it while performing at the Las Vegas Hilton.  One night before a show, Elvis was in the office of Mary Pride on the Hilton staff.  She commented on the ring and he gave it to her on the spot.  For the auction, she provided a letter of authenticity and a photo of Elvis wearing it, and it brought in nearly $8,000 


White Gold, Diamond and Ruby “Elvis” Ring:

This fantastic ring was part of a special small auction that Heritage conducted for a private individual in April 2011.   It has a wonderful story.  After one of Elvis’ shows at the Las Vegas Hilton in 1975, he was approached by J.D. Sumner, leader of Elvis’ backing group The Stamps.  Sumner asked if a family friend and her two daughters could come up to Elvis’ penthouse suite.  Elvis agreed, and that would be special enough by itself, but things got better.  One girl’s first name was Novalene, and Elvis laughed at the fact they both had unusual names.  Novalene found Elvis very easy to talk to, and soon they became instant friends.  Before the evening ended, Elvis went into his bedroom and came back with this ring.  He put the ring on a necklace and put it around her neck.  Is that a special gift, or what?

The estimate for this diamond “Elvis ring was $12,000.  Unfortunately, there were no archive results of the special auction, so I don’t know what it went for. My guess is that it was much more than the ones sold during the previous year.  It is safe to say that if any ring could reverse the downward trend in prices on Elvis rings, this one would be it.

 

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