La Peregrina, the Wanderer

A bit like the pearl – (as a wanderer) – I myself have been feeling like one as of late;)  lost in the daily experience of activities and demands. Everywhere I went, I carried the nagging feeling I was neglecting my world of jewels and my blog. Which of course I was and yet found it hard to slow down long enough to dive into it.

La Peregrina’s wandering adventure however has been a very glamorous one! One which reeled me back in.

So here I am, thanks to the alluring La Peregrina and the late Elizabeth Taylor.  I just adore the original necklace the stunning pearl hung from, which you see above, on the left.

How privileged Elizabeth Taylor was to own such incredible jewels! I love the way she cherished each piece, knowing the items intimately.

“I hope their presence and their magic will be passed on to others, loved but not possessed, for we are all temporary custodians of beauty.”

Those words temporary custodians of beauty really brought home my understanding that we are passing through this human experience and while we are here, we are the guardians of everyone and everything in our lives- owning nothing.

One look at the bewitching pearl and I was hooked. I became curious of her past and poked around a little for information. As I read on about its journey, with all the bends, twists and turns, no wonder it was called La Peregrina, the Wanderer!

It all began in the gulf of Panama. This beauty was found in the mid 16th century by an African slave who was rewarded with his freedom for this pearl.

The pearl was carried off to Spain and was first worn by Mary I of England who married Philip II of Spain. She wore it as a pendent to a brooch.

Upon her passing, the pearl became a part of the crown jewels of Spain and much enjoyed by the Queens of the time.

In the 1800’s  Joseph Bonaparte (elder brother of Napoleon)  who was installed as King of Spain, fled the Kingdom.  He took with him some of the crown jewels. La Peregrina was one of them. It was at this time the pearl received its name – the Wanderer!

Joseph Bonaparte left the pearl to his nephew who in turn sold it to James Hamilton.

And now we come to Richard Burton, who bought it (for $37,000) in 1969 when the Hamilton family auctioned it at Sotheby’s in London. It was for his wife, Elizabeth Taylor.

Interestingly, La Peregrina has been lost and found at least three times. Or should I say wandered off! First, it was lost and found in a sofa in Windsor Castle, next it was lost and found during a ball at Buckingham Palace and finally – when Elizabeth Taylor found it in her puppy’s mouth after her frantic search for it!

What a miracle! We are all too aware how delicate and sensitive pearls are… and so its long history, particularly its survival from doggy teeth is to me a miracle:)





The image above is the redesigned necklace Elizabeth Taylor commissioned Cartier to produce, setting it with pearls, diamonds and rubies.

This was finally auctioned at Christie’s in New York for an incredible price of $11 million.

What a life! From being found by a slave and passing through Queens, I wonder how the journey of  La Peregrina will continue and end… xx

*the images are from Elizabeth Taylors, “My Love Affair with Jewelry”

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