The past two Auctions at Graceland have been loaded with Elvis rings. The one on January 7 (during the celebration of Elvis’ birthday) had five rings, and the one on March 4 (during the opening celebration for Elvis Presley’s Memphis) had six. And one ring at first appeared to have been sold at both auctions, but a closer look revealed they are examples of Elvis purchasing multiples of the same or similar rings from his favorite jeweler, Lowell Hays. First, here are the rings sold in January.
Diamond Cluster Cocktail Ring:
The auction website had this to say about this gentleman’s cocktail ring:
Elvis’ star shone bright and part of that sparkling came from the jewels that adorned his fingers. The offered flower-shaped seven-diamond cluster ring was worn on stage by Elvis as documented in photographs from the period. The 10k gold ring weighs 6.5 grams with seven diamonds, one weighing 0.18 carat and measuring 3.5 mm while the remaining six each weigh 0.12 carat and measure 3 mm.
Although they mention Elvis was photographed wearing this ring, no picture was offered as verification. Instead, a Letter of Authenticity from Joe Esposito was included to prove Elvis actually wore the ring. But the LOA included something strange. Instead of saying Elvis gave him the ring, Joe states “This ring was given to a particular friend.” I wonder who that might have been, and why the name wasn’t given.
The ring fell a little short of the $10-15,000 estimate, going for $9,375 (which includes the 25% auction house fee).
Gold and Diamond Lion Head Ring:
The next four rings were all originally given by Elvis to Charlie Hodge. It is part of a group of twelve rings Charlie sold to an unnamed man is the early 80s. Here is a portion of the man’s letter describing the event:
At one point in the very early 1980s there was an event in Antwerp, organized by the Belgian fan club, that featured Charlie Hodge as the headliner. He was one of the very first people who had known Elvis up close to come to Europe to speak at an Elvis event. I found Charlie in one of the hallways at one point and talked to him for about twenty minutes. He was a bit shocked to hear a teenager asking if he had any of Elvis’ stuff for sale, but I convinced him that I was very, very serious about expanding my Elvis collection with as many personal items as possible. He told me to visit him at his hotel the next morning.
He showed me a small black box full of rings, and said Elvis had asked him to hold on to them at some point in the early 70’s and then had never asked for them again afterwards. He said this kind of stuff would happen all the time, because Elvis would go through a lot of rings and other jewelry all the time. He asked me if there was any ring I liked best, that I was most interested in buying from him. I could not take my eyes off the box and immediately knew I wanted the entire thing! Within minutes we agreed on a price for all 12 rings that were in the box. I was short so I borrowed some money from my parents, and we left with a dozen of Elvis’ rings!
The gold and diamond lion head was the star of the Elvis jewelry at this auction. It blew past the estimate of $10-15 and topped out at $37,500 (including the auction fee).
White Gold and Star Sapphire Ring
This is another ring Elvis gave to Charlie Hodge. Elvis had a fascination with sapphire jewelry, perhaps because of the special significance of sapphires in numerology, of which Elvis was an enthusiast.
This 14 karat white gold ring has a black star sapphire, which weighs 14 grams, mounted above two sapphires each weighing 0.08 carat. While the estimate was for the same $10-15,000 as the lion head ring, it sold for only a fourth as much, topping out at $9,750.
$2-1/2 Indian Head Gold Coin Ring
Elvis had a number of rings made with gold coins. This one is a U.S. 1911 $2½ Indian Head gold coin. Rings of this ilk were worn during many of Elvis’ hallmark moments on stage and screen, including during the filming of the 1970 documentary film Elvis: That’s the Way It Is.
The coin is set in 17 grams of 14-karat gold. I’m surprised the ring did not blow past the estimate of $10-15,000. Somebody took it home for $9,375.
Gold and Diamond “Pyramid” Ring
This is the last of the four Elvis rings given to Charlie Hodge and sold at the January 7, 2017 auction. However, there are four more coming up in the March 4, 2017 auction.
Elvis showed this affinity for jewelry by wearing and gifting a hundreds of rings in the 1970s. This 14-karat gold men’s ring weighs approximately 9.5 grams and contains a 0.18 carat diamond.. The diamond is centered in a starburst, which is centered in a pyramid-shaped concentric surround. With just one small diamond, this ring brought in a modest $8,125.
The March 4, 2017, Auction at Graceland provided multiple phots of the rings, but no shots of Elvis wearing any of them.
Gold and Diamond Panther Head Ring
This 14-karat yellow gold panther head ring has marquise-shaped diamond eyes that each weigh 0.18 carat, a diamond in the panther’s mouth that weighs 0.20. It was gifted by Elvis to Tom Hulett who, with Colonel Parker, managed Elvis’ live performances in the 1970s.
The auction website had this to say:
The ring is a stunning example of the kind of dramatic touch that Elvis was always seeking in his wardrobe and especially in his jewelry. Elvis adored larger rings later in his career, and since the symbolism of the panther represents courage, valor and power, this ring would have been a perfect choice for Elvis in his career.
Like most of Elvis’ rings in this auction, it had an estimate of $10-15,000, and it did go for $15,000.
Diamond and Blue Sapphire Owl Ring
Back to the rings Elvis gave to Charlie Hodge. According to the auction website, the owl is known to symbolize wisdom and it was a favorite of Elvis’, who would wear jewelry adorned with the depiction of an owl. Of the eighty Elvis rings featured in these ElvisBlog posts, there have been three owl rings.
This 14-karat yellow gold ring weighs 12 grams and has two round blue sapphire eyes which each measure 2.9 mm and a singular V-shaped brow of 15 1-point diamonds. This owl ring is 14K and has gold-feathered texture surrounding the eyes, brow and beak. It had the usual $10-15,000 estimate, and thirteen bids ran the price up to $13,750.
Gold and Diamond Cocktail Ring
This ring is another that Elvis gave to Charlie Hodge. Remember the first ring in this post that Elvis gave to a “particular friend.” Here it is again:
And here is one given to Dave Hebler covered in Part 7 of this series:
The auction website stated: “When Elvis discovered a style he liked, he would often acquire several examples of the piece of jewelry.” This flower-shaped diamond cluster ring is certainly a good example of that. Who else but Elvis would buy rings in bulk to give to people?
The Charlie Hodge version on this ring is only 10-karat, but it contains seven champagne-colored diamonds, one weighing 0.12 carat and the remaining six each weighing 0.15 carat. The gold in the ring weighs 7 grams. Of the three versions shown here, the Charlie Hodge had the highest bid of $16,250.
Diamond and Black Sapphire Ring
The auction website says, “The shimmering rays of the star effect in the star sapphire is called asterism, from the Latin word astrum, or “star.” Black star sapphires owe their stars to the included crystals of the shiny, dark mineral hematite.”
This diamond and black star sapphire ring was a favorite of Elvis’ and he was as known for wearing this style as he was for gifting it to friends and family. The men’s yellow 14-karat gold ring, with black star sapphire weighs 10 grams and is mounted in a nugget-style setting that is marked 14K and “Heirloom” on the interior band. The ring measures approximately size 10 with three diamonds each measuring 1.5 mm.
This diamond and black star sapphire ring was a favorite of Elvis’ and he was as known for wearing this style as he was for gifting it to friends and family. The men’s yellow 14-karat gold ring, with black star sapphire weighs 10 grams and is mounted in a nugget-style setting. The three diamonds each measure 1.5 mm. It sold for $11,875.
Diamond and Opal Ring:
This large white opal ring got fourteen bids, the most of any of the rings in this auction. Bidders must have liked the big size of the emerald-cut opal (19.5 x 14.5 mm). There are 40 diamonds surrounding the center stone which each measure .01 mm. The 24k gold ring weighs 10.5 grams. Elvis gave it to his concert tour promoter Tom Hulett during the 1970s. Hulett certified that Elvis wore it both on and off stage. “Opal held a special meaning for Elvis and wore it often.”
Unlike the other rings in the auction, this one had a lower estimate of $8-10,000, but fourteen bids ran it up to $15,000.
Gold and Red Star Sapphire Ring
I get a kick out of the auction website that says, “Star sapphires were one of Elvis’ favorites.” They have said that about black onyx, opal, diamonds, lions, tigers, owls, horse heads and many more. It seems like everything was an Elvis favorite.
A star sapphire is named because it has needle-like inclusions that refract a star-shaped pattern in effect known as “asterism.” Star sapphires are typically blue—but this is the less common red star sapphire . This 14-karat white gold, oval cabochon red star sapphire measures weighs 9.5 grams. The star sapphire is mounted in a textured white gold setting with two channels down either side.
There must have been many bidders hoping to score an Elvis ring without paying big bucks, but fourteen bids ran the price up to $6,875. If the winner ever finds a photo of Elvis wearing it, it will be worth a lot more.
The next ElvisBlog post or the one after it will also cover Elvis items sold at an auction. But this is a unusual one that has a Smith & Wesson revolver expected to bring $160-225,000, a diamond and ruby studded sheriff’s badge ($50-75,000), plus Elvis’ contract to purchase Graceland, two more guns, and two Nazi knives. Stay tuned.
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