Posted in  History of Pearls  on  October 16, 2022 by  Anisa0 comments

Discovery by a black slave

La Peregrina (which means ‘The Wanderer’) is a pear-shaped pearl of 134 grains which was found at Panama in 1560. The shell in which it was found was initially thought too small to be worth opening.

The black slave who found it was rewarded with his liberty, and his master with a plot of land and a local position of alcalde (Magistrate or Mayor) of Panama. Other authorities state that it came from Venezuela in 1574.

Table of Contents

A serial walk through Spanish Royalty

It was presented to Philip II of Spain by a grandee named Dom Diego de Temes, and exhibited in Seville in 1597.

It was given by Philip to Mary Tudor, ‘Bloody Mary’ and after her death was returned to Spain and graced the crown of the Blessed Virgin at Guadeloupe.

It was worn in Madrid in 1605 by Queen Margarita of Spain to celebrate peace between England and Spain. Joseph Bonaparte, who abdicated the throne in 1813, passed the pearl to his niece Hortense de Beauharnais who in turn left it to Joseph’s younger brother Louis Napoleon.

In great need of money, he asked the Duke of Abercorn to sell it for him but the Duke bought it for his wife. She often temporarily lost it, due to its loose setting. It was temporarily lost at both Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.

The Duke’s son had La Peregrina drilled to make a secure setting for it. See a timeline of it’s historical journey below, including it’s serial transfer along a line of successive Spanish Kings.

Timeline of La Peregrina’s Journey

  • Philip II (1582-1598)
    Philip III (1598-1621)
    Philip IV (1621-1665)
    Charles II (1665-1700)
    Philip V (1700-1746)
    Fernando VI (1746-1759)
    Charles III (1759-1778)
    Carlos IV (1778-1808)
    Joseph Bonaparte, of France (1808-circa 1844)
    Prince Louis Napoleon, of France (circa 1844-circa 1848)
    Duke and Duchess of Abercorn (circa 1848-1914)
  • The Hamilton Family (circa 1914-1969)
    Elizabeth Taylor (1969-2011)
  • Anonymous Buyer bought it for 11 million US Dollars (2011)

Current state of the pearl

La Peregrina is a natural 58.5 carat pear-shaped pearl centerpiece mounted on a Cartier necklace made of cultured pearls, diamonds and rubies.

It is excellent condition and sold for a healthy sum of 10.5 million USD (approximately 11 million USD after factoring in fees)(1).

La Peregrina at Auction (Christie’s New York)


1.         Taylor pearl sells for record sum. BBC News [Internet]. [cited 2022 Oct 15]; Available from:

About the Author


I am a pearl and oyster enthusiast who loves to share her knowledge and experiences about fashion with the world. I am neither a certified gemologist nor a reseller of pearls.

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