It’s no secret Oscar-nominated actress Jennifer Tilly is a champion poker player. What you may not know is that she also is a world-class jewelry collector. Inspired by the glamorous pieces movie stars owned in the past, Tilly has invested in serious jewelry ever since she started receiving serious paychecks.

After making Woody Allen’s Bullets Over Broadway, a film in which she rebukes her gangster boyfriend’s jewelry gift with the hilarious line—“Black pearls? They probably come from defective oysters!”—Tilly bought a strand. The actress also purchased a stunning gold and sapphire ring from the gorgeous selection of Luna Felix jewels she flaunted in the Jim Carrey comedy Liar, Liar. Over the years, she has continued to pick up masterworks with impressive provenances, like a bejeweled evening bag that once belonged to the Duchess of Windsor and a jaw-dropping pair of JAR earrings from actress Ellen Barkin’s collection sold at auction in 2006.  “A lot of beauty in jewels is the story behind them,” says Tilly.

The most fabled item in her jewelry box is a Bulgari brooch from Elizabeth Taylor’s legendary collection. Like any great gambler, Tilly enjoyed the thrill ride of acquiring it during Taylor’s 2011 estate sale at Christie’s in New York. Click through the slide show for the great story behind the Taylor treasure, and Tilly’s other incredible Bulgari jewels that will be among the 150 pieces on display in “The Art of Bulgari: La Dolce Vita and Beyond” at the de Young Museum in San Francisco from September 21, 2013 through February 17, 2014.

SEE THE PHOTOS

MORE:
The Most Breathtaking Fall Accessories Ever
Celebrity-Inspired Jewelry Trends To Try Now
• An Inside Look at Rachel Zoe’s Home and Closet