The Curse of Turbulent Love – La Peregrina Pearl
Photo Credit: Ana Herda
Elizabeth Taylor loved her gemstones and jewelry! One of her favorites was La Peregrina Pearl, a 50.6-carat pearl, one of the largest natural pearls in the world, measuring approximately 0.7 inch by 1 inch in size.
La Peregrina means “the pilgrim” or “the wanderer” in Spanish. The pearl was discovered
in the Gulf of Panama during the 16th century. King Philip II of Spain gave the pearl to
Queen Mary I of England before their marriage in 1554, but the King abandoned her and she died in 1558 without providing an heir. Queen Mary I was nicknamed “Bloody Mary” after her death because of the hundreds of Protestants she ordered to be executed during her five-year reign.
Following the Queen Mary’s death, King Philip II took La Peregrina Pearl back. the King then proposed to the dead queen’s younger half-sister, Elizabeth I. The pearl was worn by Spanish royalty until the 19th century, when Napoleon Bonaparte invaded and seized the Spanish crown, and the pearl.
La Peregrina Pearl was passed down to members of the Bonaparte family, but was ultimately sold to Lord James Hamilton in 1873. It was then sold at a Sotheby’s auction in 1969 to Richard Burton, who gave it to his wife, Elizabeth Taylor, as a Valentine’s Day present. The couple married and divorced twice, with their second marriage lasting only nine months. Elizabeth Taylor held on to the pearl and married seven more times.
After Taylor’s death in 2011, La Peregrina Pearl was bought for 11.8 million by an anonymous buyer at a Christie’s auction.
Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon provides appraisal and consultation services, either at our Gem Lab or at your home and your jewelry never leaves your sight. We want you to watch and ask questions during the entire process.
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