Explore Famous Pearls Throughout History

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Last Updated on October 9, 2023

Pearls are among the oldest jewelry pieces, and many people enjoy wearing them. They represent beauty and add a touch of elegance to any outfit. Pearls are the only jewelry made in a living-shelled mollusk, such as a clam or an oyster. However, what makes them so unique is the fact that only 1% of wild oysters produce pearls that are the proper size, shape, and color to match the jewelry industry’s rigorous criteria. 

This is why pearls are so popular and a fan-favorite among women. There is a pearl piece for every woman, regardless of her style. Also, they are even more special and timeless because many antique jewelry pieces are still famous today, and picking a favorite is tough. So, whether you buy Tahitian pearl earrings, freshwater round pearl stud brooches, or an elegant Akoya pearl necklace, it is evident that there are many pieces you can wear, and know that there is an interesting story behind how they were made. 

So, if pearls are your favorite jewelry, here are some historical facts about five different types of pearls. 

The Hope’s Pearl

This is the biggest saltwater baroque pearl ever discovered. The Hope pearl is a one-of-a-kind gem, measuring 2 inches in length and weighing 450 carats. Its hues span from greenish gold at the base to pure white at the top. 

It was discovered by Henry Phillip Hope, a jewelry collector, on one of his hunts, and he named this baroque pearl after himself. The pearl is currently part of the British Museum of Natural History.

Image source: The Jewelry Blog

La Peregrina pearl

La Peregrina, also known as The Incomparable, is renowned as one of the most famous pearls throughout history. Its intriguing origins and fascinating journey have always been enveloped in a veil of mystery. This exquisite gem takes on the form of a pear resembling an egg while boasting an impressive weight of 56 carats. It was discovered in Panama around the 1500s and eventually belonged to Queen Mary after being given to her by her husband, King Phillip II of Spain. 

One of the things that makes this pearl so unique is that it was in the ownership of three different queens in France and Austria after Queen Mary died. It was most recently owned by Elizabeth Taylor, who wore it religiously. It was sold to a British auction house after she passed away for about $11 million and is currently in private ownership.

Read More: 90s Jewellery Trends Complete List by Style

The Pearl of Allah

The Pearl of Allah, also known as the Pearl of Lao Tzu, is believed to be the world’s largest natural pearl. It was found in the Philippines and was named “the Pearl of Allah” because its unusual shape resembled a turbaned and bearded male. Since the finders from the Philippines were Muslims, they believed it to be a sign of the Holy Prophet Muhammad.

It has a pure, dazzling white color, weighs more than 14 pounds, and is 10 inches in length, making it one of the largest sea discoveries ever. The pearl is incredibly rare and is frequently believed to be the world’s ugliest. It is supposed to be 600 years old, however, this has never been confirmed.

Image source: The British Pearl Association 

The Huerfana

La Huerfana, or La Sola, was discovered in 1515 in the Panama Gulf. It has a long history as it was formerly part of the collection of royal jewels of Spain. Dona Isabel de Bobadilla, Cuba’s first female governor, was its last known owner. Unfortunately, the pearl is supposed to have been lost in an 18th-century palace fire in Cuba.

The Abernethy Pearl

The Abernethy Pearl, often known as the “Perfect Freshwater Pearl,” was discovered in 1967 in Scotland’s River Tay. It was named after the diver who discovered it, Bill Abernethy. This pearl’s uniqueness is that it required pure water to develop, however, following the Industrial Revolution, the River Tay became extremely polluted, and still this pearl was formed. 

The pearl is made from a mussel of the species Margaritifera, and it has a round form with a white color and the slightest pink overtone. It was displayed in the Cairncross jewelry store for over 30 years until 1992 when it was sold. 

Final thoughts

Pearls are the perfect combination of Mother Nature’s strength and the enigmatic beauty of the natural world. People have used pearls to demonstrate their strength and elegance for millennia. This was made feasible by the pearls’ enticing radiance and distinct luster. Many iconic pearls have withstood the test of time, and they can still be seen and recognized today as timeless accessories in the shape of necklaces, bracelets, rings, and earrings.