Discovered in the mid 16th century, La Peregrina Pearl is one of the most symmetrical natural pearls ever discovered. It was discovered in Panama and turned over to Don Pedro de Temez, the administrator of the Panama colony. Temez carried the pearl back to his Spanish homeland where he gifted it to the future king, Phillip II who gave it as a bridal gift to Queen Mary I of England. When Mary died, Queen Elizabeth I returned it to Spain where it remained one of the crown jewels for more than 250 years.
In the early 1800s, Joseph Bonaparte, brother to Napoleon, ruled Spain and when he was ousted, he took La Peregrina and other crown jewels back to France. This is when the pear-shaped pearl earned its nickname “The Wanderer.” Joseph willed the pearl to his nephew who became Napoleon III, Emperor of France. He then sold it to the Duke of Abercorn who gave it as a gift to his wife, Duchess Louisa Hamilton. It remained in the Hamilton family until 1969.
In 1969 Richard Burton purchased the pearl at auction for $37,000 as a Valentine’s Day gift for Elizabeth Taylor. Taylor had the pearl redesigned into a necklace with pearls, diamonds and rubies. Following her death, the necklace was auctioned to an anonymous buyer for $11 million.
La Peregrina wandered the world and is a gorgeous gem with a long and royal history. Love pearls? Share your favorite piece on Bridgewater’s Facebook page or stop in to find a new piece for your collection.