It was a slow process assembling the rings for Part 1 of this series – 13 rings from ten rock and roll memorabilia auctions over a four year period. Part 2 was a little easier – eleven rings from four auctions plus the website Elvis Moments in Time. For “Elvis’ Fabulous Rings — Part 3,” they all came from one auction that just ended on August 14. It was the Ultimate Elvis Auction held in Memphis by Heritage Auctioneers over Elvis Week. Let’s take take a look at ten more rings Elvis owned and gave away to a girlfriend, music associates, and Memphis Mafia buddies.
Diamond Cluster Ring
This 14K yellow gold ring adorned with seven small diamonds (approximate total weight of one carat) sold for $10,000 plus the auction house premium of 25% for a total of $12.500. Also Included is a Letter of Authenticity (LOA) from Sam Thompson, brother of Linda Thompson, and the King’s personal bodyguard for several years. Thompson states Elvis was wearing the ring on a 1977 flight to Hawaii, Sam admired the ring, and Elvis simply removed it from his finger and gave it to him.
The appeal of this diamond cluster ring was no doubt enhanced by an accompanying photo showing Elvis in his dragon jumpsuit wearing the ring.
This large baguette cut ring brought in a high price, considering that it is a synthetic ruby, not a real one. Part of the explanation for this is the ring’s history. As explained in a Certificate of Authenticity (COA) from Joe Esposito, Elvis wore this ring, and then gave it to his girlfriend at the time, Linda Thompson. According to another COA, years later Thompson sold this and most of the other jewelry Elvis had given her to a Beverly Hills jewelry store.
But, probably the biggest boost to the selling price was the accompanying photo of Elvis in a white jumpsuit from his Elvis on Tour wardrobe wearing the ring. This 9K gold and 20 carat rubellite ring sold for $6,875.
Gold Nugget Ring
Elvis usually pulled rings off his fingers to give them to other people, but sometimes they came right out of his bedroom jewelry box. Elvis gave this 10K ring with four diamonds to Marty Lacker, his longtime friend, personal aide, and the co-best man at his wedding. . Lacker tells the story in the 2011 signed letter accompanying this ring:
“One night in the 70’s, I was upstairs at Graceland with Elvis and he was going through his jewelry case and he turned around came over to me and said ‘let me see your hand’. I had no idea what he meant so I put my left hand out and he slid this ring on my finger. I thought it was a good looking ring. I looked at it and started to take it off to give back to him and he said, ‘keep it, it is now yours.’ That was a typical move for Elvis… I have worn it on my left hand every day for the last 40 years.”
The ring sold for $5,250, including the auctioneer’s premium.
Tiger Eye Ring
Here’s a ring we looked at earlier this year in “Elvis’ Fabulous Rings – Part 2.” Elvis owned and wore this ring, but gave it to Claude Thompson, who was his choreographer for the ’68 Comeback Special. The tiger eye stone is mounted on a 14k heavy gold electroplate setting. Accompanied by a LOA from Thompson, it sold at auction in November 2009 for $4,481. Now, it was able to command $5,500 plus premium, so the owner made a little over $1,000 on the sale.
Gold Coin and Diamond Ring
This is an impressive ring, with an 1853 two-and-a half-dollar gold coin surrounded by tiny diamonds and set in a 14K gold mounting. However, the seller obviously had an inflated sense of its value. The auction estimate was $35,000, and the minimum bid was half that. With the premium added, that comes to almost $22,000 opening bid, and no buyers thought it was worth it.
One problem was that there was no photo of Elvis wearing it. The item description says you can see the ring on his finger in the 1970 documentary Elvis: That’s the Way It Is. Well, duh. Why didn’t the seller play the DVD on his computer and do a screen grab? With some cropping and resizing, he’d have the photo you need to establish Elvis’ ownership.
This ring cost less originally than most of Elvis’ purchases because it has no gold or diamonds. There is a large turquoise stone set in silver. It went for $4,375, including the premium. This was certainly aided by a color photo of Elvis wearing it. It also had had two LOAs verifying it as a ring Elvis owned. He later gave it to J.D Sumner of the Stamps Quartet as part of a gift of a large collection of turquoise jewelry.
Gold and Citrine Ring
This ring was custom made for Elvis in the early 1970s by Thunderbird Jewelers of Las Vegas. It has eight citrine stones totaling 25 carats in a gold setting. It sold for $5,000, the minimum bid plus the premium.
It is another of the rings Elvis gave to Linda Thompson in the 70s that she sold in the 80s. There was no photo of Elvis wearing it, but Joe Esposito provided an affidavit and a certificate of authenticity. Seems like it would be better to have these from Linda Thompson.
Black Star Sapphire and Diamond Ring
The auction web page proudly described this as a massive gold 14K ring with a large number of round brilliant cut diamonds and many black sapphires. Then they put what would seem like a ridiculously low opening bid of $1,250 on it. Nine bidders ran the winning price up to $8,750 including the premium. Elvis gave the ring to Alan Fortas, a member of the Memphis Mafia and one of Elvis’ best friends for almost two decades. Fortas once said:
“Elvis believed the wearing of sapphire jewelry was supposed to signify generosity, good manners, wisdom and noble thoughts.”
The ring was accompanied by a LOA from Abe Fortas. I wonder what it might have gone for if there was also a photo of Elvis wearing it.
Gold and Diamonds Ring
Here is the second ring that failed to generate the minimum bid. The auction estimated it would bring $30,000 because it is huge – nearly 1-1/4 inches square with 36 diamonds set in 14K gold. It says EP on one side and TCB on the other. And, it was accompanied by a color photo of Elvis wearing the ring. No history of the ring was given. For some reason, the lot included two framed unused tickets for an August 22, 1977 concert at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, NY, six days after Elvis’ death. Even with all that, nobody wanted to put out $18,750 (including auction premium) to buy it.
Red Coral, Turquoise, and Sterling Silver Ring
This is a ring we also looked at in “Elvis’ Fabulous Rings – Part 1”, and the result was better the first time. In the early 70s, turquoise rings were very popular with Elvis, and he had as many as ten or twelve. 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.
In March 2011, Gotta Have Rock and Roll Auctions offered this Native American ring with elaborate silver work accented by turquoise and coral stones. It was accompanied by a LOA from Charlie Hodge and a picture of Elvis wearing the ring. It went for $5,000 plus premium, and I commented at the time that it seemed like a hefty price for an Elvis ring with no gold or diamonds in it.
So, now Heritage Auctions has had their shot at this ring. The LOA from Hodge was included, but not the picture of Elvis wearing it. Somebody goofed, and the winning bidder had to pay only the minimum bid of $3,000 plus premium. Yes, it is possible to lose money on high-priced Elvis collectibles.
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