For some of us, jewelry is just jewelry. It’s a statement, and accent, or sign of endearment. However, throughout history, there have been pieces of jewelry that have become WAY MORE than just an accessory or investment. They have endured an immense history and carry a story that adds an almost invaluable facet to the piece. One of these such pieces is “La Peregrina” or “The Wanderer”, believed to be the world’s largest pearl (at the time) when it was discovered.
It’s said that this pearl was found during 1500s in the Gulf of Panama off of the coast of the Isle of Santa Margarita by a laborer who would turn it over to man named Don Pedro de Temez, who was the head of the Spanish colony at the time. When it was weighed, it yielded a whopping 55.95 carats (11.2grams) and Don Pedro was stunned. Realizing its majesty, he personally escorted the pearl to Spain where he would present it to the “the Prudent” Phillip II who would then gift its magnificence to his beautiful bride.
Mary I of England would adorn the jewel as an elaborate broach until her passing in the year 1558. Subsequently, this piece would spend centuries languishing within the Spanish Crown Jewels – ultimately being sporadically worn by royalty such as Margaret of Austria, Elisabeth of France, and Mariana of Austria until the early 1800s when the French ruler Joseph Bonepart abdicated his throne to return home, but not without plundering part of the Spanish Treasures including the famous pearl.
It was during Joseph’s depature that the piece earned its nickname “La Peregrina” (“The Wanderer”). Throughout the years, the valuable piece would pass through royal hands including Napoleon III of France, James Alexander Hamilton and his wife Lousia who would set the pearl into a necklace. After the pearl became loose from its fixture and was misplaced during a handful of events, Louisa became weary of wearing it and ultimately the family put it up for auction in 1969 where it would be purchased by Richard Burton, the famous Hollywood actor, as a Valentine’s day gift for his then-wife, the illustrious Elizabeth
Taylor, much like Lousia Hamilton, would also have trouble holding onto the pearl and it was infamously detailed to be lost in a Cesar’s Palace suite during the couple’s Las Vegas vacation. Fortunately, the jewel was located surprisingly unscathed within the mouth of a puppy who had seemingly thought was a bone due to its sheer size. After the scare, Taylor immediately had the piece reset into a decadent Cartier necklace (as seen today) and would occasionally wear it however it spent most of its time on display, including being featured
in the Smithsonian’s “The Allure of Pearls” exhibit.
After Elizabeth Taylor’s death, it was put up for auction along with a number of other valuable pieces from the late actresses’ collection and would go on to fetch over $11.5 million. “La Peregrina” is no longer considered to be the world’s largest pearl as it has been outshined by the likes of the “Mary Tudor Pearl”, the “Pearl of Lao Tzu”, and the recently discovered 75lbs monster from the Philippines that has yet to be named. Though this is no longer the world’s largest, it can be argued that it is the most famous and its sheer history dating back from its discovery on the shores of Santa Margarita to its royal lineage and Hollywood influence make it the most desirable gem the sea has gifted to the shore over the years.
At 1477, we believe that every piece of jewelry we carry has a story all its own. Buying storied jewelry provides you the opportunity to become a part of history and create your own lasting footprint. We believe that classic adornment has more relevance than ever and interconnects our stories, love, and endearment. We believe in turning Tradition Into Trend.