beth-Taylor-wearing-La-Peregrina” src=”http://www.mrkstyle.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/Elizabeth-Taylor-wearing-La-Peregrina.jpg” alt=”Elizabeth-Taylor-wearing-La-Peregrina” width=”193″ height=”284″ />The immaculate pear-shaped pearl is the exclamation point on the end of this exquisite Cartier-designed necklace that drapes the neck of the legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor. Named the “La Peregrina,” or the pilgrim, for its epic journey since its discovery in Panama 500 years ago, the grandiose pearl has adorned both real-life and Hollywood royalty.
Originally weighing 223.8 grains, La Peregrina’s history is most visible in a lineage of masterpiece paintings, including both Queen Mary I and Mary I created by Flemish artist Hans Eworth during the 16th century. After the death of Queen Mary, La Peregrina remained a Crown Jewel of Spain. The heirloom was favored by the royal family and appears in various portraits, such as Queen Margarita on Horseback (1634-35) by the Spanish painter Diego Velázquez.
Spain eventually lost La Peregrina to the French Bonaparte royal family, who couldn’t hold onto it either. Due to financial stress in the 1800s, Napoleon III was forced to sell La Peregrina to the British Marquis of Abercorn, whose family ultimately sold it 120 years later at Sotheby’s in 1969. The highest bidder, actor Richard Burton, acquired the famous pearl for $37,000 as a gift for his beloved Elizabeth Taylor. At the time of purchase, La Peregrina was displayed as pendant on a delicate pearl chain. Not quite suited for Taylor’s extravagant taste, she commissioned Cartier to reset the pearl in a similar fashion to that of Queen Mary in Eworth’s paintings.
The result is this masterpiece of remarkable craftsmanship: A pearl choker with rubies and diamonds that set the stage for the star, La Peregrina. Similar to Queen Mary’s necklace, the pearl detaches from the chain to be worn as a broach. Its significant journey almost came to a tragic end at the mercy of one of Ms. Taylor’s curious dogs. Luckily, the pearl was retrieved miraculously unscathed from the jaws of death. Today, La Peregrina remains in the possession of Ms. Taylor, who appears to have finally given the little white wanderer a home.
START YOUR OWN LA PEREGRINA-INSPIRED JOURNEY
Pass down one of these three equally stunning drop-pearl pendants in your family. Who knows where it will end up 500 years from now!
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