Monday, 25 October 2010

La Peregrina: A Historical Jewel From The Distant Past

  Mary Tudor, Queen of England  
Portrait by Hans Eworth, wearing the famous Peregrina
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La Peregrina, which translates into "The Pilgrim," is a drop-shaped natural pearl weighing approximately 203.84 grains (about ten grams). It was found in the early 1500's, according to its long history, by a slave in the Gulf of Panama . For its discovery, the slave was given his freedom as a reward. It was given to Mary Tudor, Queen of England, as an engagement present by Philip II of Spain. After Queen Mary died, Philip reclaimed the jewel. Over the next 400 years, the jewel passed through several hands on its journey through history, included among whom were: Queen Margarita of Spain, Joseph Bonaparte of Spain, Prince Louis Napoleon of France, and the Marquis of Abercorn  who bought it for his wife in 1837.  

More recently, in 1969, the actor Richard Burton purchased it from Sotheby's for his then wife, the film star Elizabeth Taylor for the princely sum of $37,000.

Mary Tudor (also known as Bloody Mary), Queen of England, the original owner of La Peregrina pearl, given to her as an engagement gift by Philip II of Spain
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A 1634-1635 painting by Velazquez, showing Queen Margarita wearing La Peregrina pearl

A more recent owner, Elizabeth Taylor wearing the historical Peregrina pearl, once owned by the Catholic queen, Mary Tudor of England

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La Peregrina before its reconfiguration by Cartier

Cartier's reconfiguration of La Peregrina in a design which included rubies & diamonds for Elizabeth Taylor

La Peregrina
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For more on the history of La Peregrina, see:

"Buried Treasures: Travels Through the Jewel Box" (2006), by Victoria Finlay: Sceptre Books

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by Janet Deleuse

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