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Largest Pear-shaped Pearl of the World: Taylor's 'La Peregrina' Pearl

Elizabeth Taylor's Ruby Diamond and Pearl Necklace, with the La Peregrina hanging as a pendant
Elizabeth Taylor's Ruby Diamond and Pearl Necklace, with the La Peregrina hanging as a pendant. Photo courtesy: Christie's

La Peregrina is the largest pear-shaped White Nacreous Pearl of the World weighing 203.84 grains. Its most recent owner was Elizabeth Taylor who had this Pearl set as a Pendant to a necklace made out of Pearls, Rubies and Diamonds by Cartier. Richard Burton, her then husband, famously purchased the Pearl for Elizabeth Taylor at an auction in 1969 for $37,000. Burton gave the pearl to Taylor on Jan. 23, 1969. Inspired by a 16th century portrait of Mary Queen of Scots, Taylor commissioned Cartier to design a new mount of matched natural Pearls and Rubies. It was designed by Taylor with Al Durante of Cartier to offset what she called “the most perfect pearl in the world.”

The Necklace

Necklace is a double-stranded Pearl necklace interspersed with equally spaced eight floral patterns. Each floral pattern has a Ruby as its centerpiece which is surrounded by Diamonds all around. The outer strand of Pearls is composed of larger drop-shaped Pearls, and the inner strand is composed of smaller round-shaped Pearls. The "La Peregrina" pearl is attached to this necklace as the lower part of an elaborate pendant. The centerpiece of this pendant consist of a pear-shaped Ruby surrounded by Diamonds in a floral pattern.

La Peregrina Pearl

The original weight of La Peregrina Pearl was 223.8 grains (55.95 carats). In 1913 the Pearl was drilled, cleaned, and polished. The drilling was necessitated in order to secure it firmly to its setting, as the pearl was nearly lost on three different occasions. The final weight of the Pearl was 203.84 grains.
The "La Peregrina" pearl is one of the most famous pearls in the world with a recorded history of nearly 500 years. During its 500-year history the "La Peregrina" pearl had been variously used as a pendant to a brooch by Queen Mary I, pendant to a necklace by other Queens of Spain and centerpiece of a hat ornament by King Phillip IV of Spain.


"La Peregrina" in Spanish means "the Pilgrim" or "the Wanderer." The large pear-shaped white Pearl was discovered in 1513 off the Pearl Islands in the Gulf of Panama by a negro slave. The Pearl entered the Spanish Crown Jewels during the period of rule of King Ferdinand V (1479-1516) or his successor King Charles V (1516-1556). Phillip II (1556-1598) gave the pearl as a gift to Queen Mary I of England (Mary Tudor or Bloody Mary) in anticipation of their marriage in 1554. After Queen Mary's death in 1558 the pearl was returned to Spain, where it remained for over 250 years. In this duration, it became a favorite ornament of all queen consorts of Spain including Queens Margarita and Isabel. In 1808 Napoleon Bonaparte captured Spain and installed his brother Joseph Bonaparte on the throne who became the new owner of the pearl. When Joseph Bonaparte fled Madrid after the defeat of the French forces by the joint Anglo-Spanish-Portuguese forces at the Battle of Vitoria, he carried the renowned pearl with him. It was then the celebrated pearl came to be known as the "La Peregrina - the Wanderer." Joseph Bonaparte left the pearl to his nephew Charles Louis Napoleon (Napoleon III) who while in exile in London sold it to the 2nd Marques of Abercorn. It remained with the Dukes of Abercorn until the year 1969, when it was purchased by Richard Burton for his wife Elizabeth Taylor.

Elizabeth Taylor wearing La Peregina Necklace
Elizabeth Taylor wearing La Peregina Necklace. Photo courtesy: Royal Jewelry Thread

The spectacular La Peregrina necklace is set to be auctioned by Christie's this December and is estimated to cost around $2 million to $3 million.

One of the most remarkable piece of jewelry in the world, don't you think? Share your comments and reactions below. 

Update: The Necklace was sold for an unbelievable $11,842,500 dollars yesterday!

Best regards
Sambhav Karnawat
K.K. Exports
The Ruby KingTM
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