With Valentine’s Day just around the corner I thought of writing about some interesting Valentine’s gift which made history. The first thing came into my mind was the famous 11.8 Million pearl “La Peregrina”. This historical pearl is 500 years old, and it’s one of the largest perfectly symmetrical pear-shaped pearls in the world. It was passed from the African slave to European kings and queens. Prince Philip II of Spain gave it as a wedding gift to his wife, Mary Tudor of England, and most recently it belonged to Elizabeth Taylor. Her husband Richard Burton purchased the pearl at an auction price of $37,000 and gave it as a Valentine's Day gift during their first marriage. At the time Burton purchased the "La Peregrina" it was suspended as a pendant to a delicate pearl linked necklace, which did not suit their taste. Therefore they decided to have the necklace re-designed using the expertise of Al Durante of Cartier. The result was the masterpiece shown below consisting of pearls, rubies and diamonds. The redesigned piece has a detachable pendant embellished with an old mine-cut and rose-cut diamond and silver foliate bail suspended from a circular-cut diamond flame motif set with a pear-shaped ruby .
In her book "My Love Affair with Jewelry," Elizabeth Taylor wrote of her delight in receiving the amazing gift, the La Peregrina, and the panic and horror struck when it went missing 20 minutes later. Taylor saw one of her two Lhasa apsos crawling in her pink shag carpeted room, and then she heard the . She said “I know where the pearl is” Liz grabbed the dog and put her hand into its mouth. She got the dog to spit it out. She was afraid it would crack, later she found that it suffered only a couple of scratches. The La Peregrina was then safely retrieved from the mouth her pet dogs.
This was not the only time that the pearl was misplaced there is another instance earlier when the pearl was owned by , the fifth Duke of Abercorn, whose wife misplaced it at a family wedding and later found it in the bride’s train.
Did all these mishaps added to the La Perigrina’s price of 11.8 Million?