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History of the La Peregrina Pearl

The La Peregrina Pearl is one of the world’s most famous pearls. It has a 500 year history. It starts with the pearl being found by an African slave at Pearl Islands in the Gulf of Panama. It has since been owned by European kings and queens and is now owned by Elizabeth Taylor. This beautiful pearl is the largest pearl ever found and “remains one of the largest perfectly symmetrical pear-shaped pearls in the world”. As mentioned earlier, the La Peregrina Pearl was found by an African slave in the mid-16th century. The slave was given his freedom when he gave the pearl to Don Pedro de Temez. The pearl was then given to Philip II of Spain who gave it to his bride Mary I of England. After her death in 1558, the Crown of Spain owned the pearl where it became part of the Crown Jewels for the next 250 years. In the years since then, the pearl was owned by Margaret of Austria, Queen of Spain, Joseph Bonaparte, Charles Louis Bonaparte and later by Emperor Napolean III. It was lost several times by Louisa Hamilton, Duchess of Abercon when it fell out of her necklace and was lost under the sofa and again at a ball in Buckinham Palace. It was found both times. The Hamilton family owned the pearl until 1969 when it was sold at Sotheby’s in London to Richard Burton. He gave it to Elizabeth Taylor during their first marriage on Valentine’s Day. At one point, she also lost the pearl and noticed one of her puppies chewing on something. It was the La Peregrina Pearl and was surprisingly not scratched.

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