Pearl Peregrina

Pearl Peregrina
Elizabeth Taylor in Los Angeles, 1992

However, if the history of Elizabeth’s emeralds is still difficult to trace, then some of her other jewelry does not raise questions. One of these is the legendary pearl pendant known all over the world as Pearl Peregrina or the Wandering Pearl. Today it is recognized as the most expensive in the world – but not only thanks to Elizabeth. Because in fact, over its 500-year history, this pearl has managed to visit the collections of the most famous royal houses in Europe.

The exact history of the find is still unknown. According to one version, she was found by an African slave in 1513 in the Gulf of Panama. According to another, this happened several decades later. But, be that as it may, it is difficult to argue with one. In those days it was the most beautiful pearl in the world. Its weight was about 56 carats. And the pear-shaped shape was striking in its regularity and grace. It is not surprising that such a valuable specimen very soon found its way into the collection of the future Spanish king Philip II, who made it a gift to his bride Mary I Tudor, the very bloody Mary who ruled England.

Pearl Peregrina
Elizabeth Taylor in a historical costume and with the Pearl of Peregrine, 1969

The most beautiful pearl in the world

Perhaps it was Maria who made the pearl famous all over the world. The thing was so fond of the English queen that the decoration was invariably present in almost every portrait of her. After her death, the pendant became part of the royal jewels of Spain and for a long time was revered by the wives of local kings.

And yet the pearl is called a wandering one for a reason: in the end, she left Spain forever when, taking the jewel, King Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon’s older brother, fled from the country. He later transferred Peregrine to his nephew, the future French emperor Napoleon III.

In portraits, the queen was often depicted with her beloved pearl.
In portraits, the queen was often depicted with her beloved pearl.

Traveling Pearl Peregrina

But in France, the pearl did not remain long. For lack of money, the emperor will sell it to the Dukes of Abercorns, who will have Pearl Peregrina until 1969, until it is put up for auction. This is how the jewel will end its aristocratic history: Richard Burton will become its new owner. More precisely, his dear wife Elizabeth Taylor.

By the way, this pearl has a rare talent not only to travel around the world, but also … to get lost. It is known that even during the period of ownership of Peregrine Abercorns, the thing was lost twice. In Buckingham Palace and in Windsor Castle. And Elizabeth Taylor herself once managed to lose her in one of the hotel rooms (the loss was found in the mouth of her dog). The thing was that the 56-carat pearl was too heavy for the chains on which it hung. So Elizabeth’s decision to make Peregrina part of a massive ruby necklace was also partly dictated by practical considerations.

After the death of the actress, Peregrina also was sold at Christie’s for $ 11 million.