Notable Notes from Pearls that have made History


PG Forum Admin
Aug 26, 2005
Today I found a post by my friend Rui Galopim de Carvahlo on his LinkedIn page. He always shares such interesting photos and facts on all gemstones. This one, I loved...his way of phrasing the information is just so clear and nice!

So, I thought I should share it! And then I told myself...hey, there are many other people and friends that share interesting facts and information and that somehow are not doing it here on the largest pearl information source! So, I will begin sharing these (and will link to the original source, of course) inside this thread for the benefit of all. Hope you enjoy this new thread :reporter:
So here is the one that "started it all", Rui's post about naming origins and conventions...hope you like it! The original can be found HERE (you may need a LinkedIn account).

This ca. 1760 pearl and diamond aigrette (hair ornament), also known as the pearl flower brooch measuring 10.2 cm x 7,4 cm (quite a significant size), once property of Catherine the Great of Russia (reigned from 1762 until 1796) illustrates here a few words on pearls. Natural pearls occur in various molluscs, notably in the ones popularly known as pearl oysters with a nacreous interior, namely species from the genus Pinctada. In Greek and old Persian, pearl sounded like “margaron or margatit” and this is the origin of the name of Isla Margarita in the Caribbean, of the taxonomic term “margaritifera” (meaning pearl-producing) and of all Margarets, Margaridas and similar lady’s names. In Latin, pearl was called “unio” and in Arabic it may have many names according to their qualities, but “lou lou” is a general term for pearls. In this aigrette, we see rare pear-shaped pearls, which shape is behind the origin of the word “pearl”, from “pirula” the Latin word for little pears.
By the way, note the fact that no metal is seen in the construction of the jewellery piece fully set with brilliant cut diamonds of most probable Brazilian origin.
Photo © Albion Art Jewellery Institute
#pearl #jewellery #gemology #arthistory #russian
And the second entry for today belongs to another dear friend, Antoinette Matlins. The original post is HERE.

An Amazing Example of Nature & A "Jewelry Master" Combining Their Creative Abilities!

To quote its owner:

"This necklace is a superb natural pearl, diamond, and platinum necklace, designed by Thomas DeGasperis, GG, and Jason Marchiafava, and made entirely by hand. It is also notable that Marchiafava’s exemplary workmanship resulted in his being recognized by Tiffany & Co, for the first and only time in its 200-year history, as "Master Craftsman.” This necklace is an example of his finest workmanship, with exemplary precision and skill evident in every detail (note that each link of the platinum chain is also handmade). I do not know of any other comparable necklace, anywhere in the world.
In addition to the exceptional workmanship, this necklace is notable because of the rarity of the natural pearls that are highlighted in this elegant piece—one conch pearl and three quahog pearls—each exhibiting an overall beauty that is seen only in the finest, highest quality examples of such pearls. All the pearls in this necklace show exceptional color, surface sheen, freedom from blemishes, and unusually large size; in short, pearls of the finest of quality, in every way."

And I agree!
And a last one to finish off the day ;)

Another post by Rui Galopim de Carvahlo, the original can be seen HERE.

Archaeology has given very important contributions to the understanding of the history of the use of gemstones. The discovery in 1858 of the Treasure of Guarrazar, near Toledo, Spain, unveiled a treasure of great gemmological interest: a group of votive crowns and other precious objects that are believed to have been ex votos, that is votive offerings, of kings and high officials to the temples in that area witnessing the influence of Byzantine customs in the Visigothic court of the 7th century (ca .621-672). Materials like gold, sapphire, garnets, pearls, mother-of-pearl, artificial glass and rock crystal have been identified as well as their fashioning styles, which make this collection a valuable testimony of the use of gem materials, their imitations and cutting styles, in well-defined period of history and in a specific geography, being relevant elements to the history of the gem trade.
One of the votive gold crowns stand out for its reported stone content: pearls, garnets, coloured glass and sapphire-studded. This crown was commissioned by King Reccesvinth (649-672) as seen in the letters of this name that are represented as pendants.
© Museo Arqueológico Nacional, Madrid
#gemstones #history #jewelry #crowns #archaeology
Aw...Ok...I said that one was the last one for the day but I can't! I just NEED to share this one about two amazing natural we have all heard of, of course: "La Peregrina" (if not, click here!) and the other one is another unique pearl but is still nameless (OMG!). The original post by Rui Galopim can be read HERE.

High-quality and sizeable natural pearls, pearls that form naturally inside a pearl producing mollusc without human intervention, are very rare and may fetch very high market values. A well-known example of their desirability is the record that was set in 2011 for the famous “La Peregrina”, who’s late proprietor was Elizabeth Taylor, that sold for $11,842,500 at Christie's New York.
More recently, in 2018 at the “Royal Jewels from the Bourbon-Parma Family” sale at Sotheby's Geneva, the lot nr 100 was a unique and large (ca. 15.90 x 18.35 x 25.85 mm) exceptional salt water pear-shaped natural pearl set in a diamond and silver pin that was property of the extravagant queen Marie Antoinette, wife of king Louis XVI of France, that was beheaded in 1793 after the French Revolution. Her lavish lifestyle made her collect a significant number of fine jewellery and some were saved after being sent to Vienna to emperor Francis II, son of Marie Antoinette’s brother Leopold II, following their way among their descendants. This pearl had two ingredients to create a stir at the auction’s floor since it has unique gem qualities and proven provenance of great importance and was expected to fetch between $1-2 million. Well, it reached little over US$36.1 million, an absolute record for a pearl at auction © Sotheby’s; Portrait of Marie Antoinette with the rose, by Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun ca. 1783 © Château de Versailles
#pearls #jewelry #decorativearts #history #gemology
1630312588026?e=1638403200&v=beta&t=yZTqWhfdPvKx9vWGUuOBshU0-ZmR-WQ5DFJHjPYErCU.jpg - La Peregrina
1630312588214?e=1638403200&v=beta&t=-J_XrVxjDglA75lJcaVZCYftZJDEZOHRqMJ9I3EHCAc.jpg - Click image for larger version  Name:	1630312588214?e=1638403200&v=beta&t=-J_XrVxjDglA75lJcaVZCYftZJDEZOHRqMJ9I3EHCAc.jpg Views:	0 Size:	193.5 KB ID:	457574
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$36 million!!!! I can't fathom how wealthy someone would be to pay that for a piece of jewelry, however rare and historical it is.

Thanks, Douglas. This is fun reading.
Yup! When "La Peregrina" fetched almost $12M I told, amazing and fully worth it...but $36M is totally over the top...and still worth it!
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Glad you are enjoying :)
This is a great new thread! I'm always excited to read about pearl history (especially when there are accompanying photos). Thank you for all of your research, Douglas!
Glad you are all enjoying the thread :yup:
I will keep adding whenever I find more does take me some time looking for the information but I really want our forum to become the #1 Source for All things Pearl already is! But I just want it to be even more so. Quite redundant of me, but there it is.
Thank you!
Another interesting post from our friend Rui:
Basrah Pearls.png

Original post on Instagram!
I am adding the text here so it is discoverable using search:

For those that like the world of natural pearls, the trade name "Basra pearl" might be quite familiar. Basrah is a very important and historically relevant inland trading post in Iraq and in fact, the name "Basra pearl" was originally the trade name given by Indian traders to the natural pearls from the coastal area near Basrah, Iraq. Although pearls are not produced anymore in the area of this historically important trading post between Europe and Asia in the Middle East, the term, especially in India, is synonym of natural pearl from the Gulf, namely those still being produced in Bahrain in the local mollusc Pinctada radiata that typically ranges from 5 to 10 cm, producing nacreous pearls from the seed sizes (bellow 2-3 mm) up 8 mm or more in exceptional cases. In the photos, Sanad Bin Abdullah Bin Jafan, a very lucky Bahraini pearl fisherman showing his treasured findings at Jewellery Arabia trade show: the largest pearl weighing 18.07 ct (13.97 x 13.62 mm) and the smallest at 8.36 ct (11.17 x 10.72 mm), both tested at the Bahrain Institute for Pearls & Gemstones DANAT in 2019 to verify their nature. Nacreous gulf pearls of this very unusual size and quality are exceedingly rare and local tradition says that one of such is found every 100 years.
#pearl #pearling #naturalpearl #jewelry #bahrain
Finally a new one to add to this thread :)

A new one by my dear friend Rui, who posted on LinkedIn about one of Queen Antoinette's pearls that was sold at an auction.

This pearl had two ingredients to create a stir at the auction’s floor since it has unique gem qualities and proven provenance of great importance and was expected to fetch between $1-2 million and it reached little over US$36.1 million, an absolute record for a pearl at auction.

Yesterday marked the passing of British Queen Elizabeth...she sat on the throne for 70 years, something never achieved before by any other British Monarch in History (correct me if wrong!).

But even if Monarchs Fall or Rise we have many other elements that seem to remain immutable, such as their Royal Regalia, mainly the Crowns and Scepters.

And this story about a Famous Mexican Natural Pearl is very much linked with Queen Elizabeth!

The original article is written in Spanish and can be read HERE, but I have translated some snippets for you all :)

"Queen Elizabeth II has a large collection of jewelry and jewelry, there is one that stands out among all. It is the Crown of St. Edward, which is the main headdress of the coronation of the kings of England and is used by the Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the Anglican church, to enthrone the monarchs."

The current crown of St. Edward is a circle with eight alternating florons in the shape of a cross and fleur-de-lis, decorated with jewels. The florons lead to a dome topped with a kicked cross. The crown features several jewels, including a row of pearls at the bottom. This tiara weighs about two kilos.

Within the row of pearls stands out one, called the "Great Lemon", whose origin is the Sea of Cortez, located in Baja California Sur, north of Mexico. It was extracted in 1883 by divers Juan Vacaseque Calderón, and Antonio Cervera, who found it near the island of the Holy Spirit. Its name refers to the size of it, similar to that of a lemon.

The pearl became the property of Antonio Ruffo Santa Cruz, who owned the company that found the pearl. It was Ruffo who later gave it to King Edward VII (1841-1910) to wear in his crown.

Years later, the pearl caught the attention of Queen Elizabeth II, who traveled to Baja California in 1983, aboard the ship Britannia. During his second trip to Mexico she passed through Espiritu Santo and Cerralvo, being able to know the place where the pearl of her crown had been extracted.

Another article details her visit to La Paz and includes some photos of that visit:

This is a Memorial marker placed for the occasion of the visit:

And several other interesting tidbits can be found in this article.

Farewell Queen Elizabeth!
Thanks for the translation, Douglas! So it seems we will see this for the coronation? There sure are a lot of gems on this piece. I wonder what the thought process was in assembling it…