To mark the record-breaking price for the Winston Pink Legacy diamond in Geneva, we look back at the historic auctions of the Oppenheimer Blue diamond, La Peregrina, the Hancock Red, the Blue Belle of Asia sapphire, the Rockefeller Emerald, and other magnificent jewels at Christie’s
- La Peregrina: A natural pearl jewel with a star-studded provenance
Few jewels have a history dating back 500 years, or one that have seen them passing through the hands of royals, empresses and Hollywood stars. La Peregrina, which was found off the coast of Panama in 1576, is one such jewel.
La Peregrina: a natural pearl, diamond, ruby, and cultured pearl necklace, by Cartier. Sold for $11,842,500 on 13 December 2011 at Christie’s in New York
This perfectly pear-shaped pearl weighing 202.24 grains was bought by Philip II of Spain in 1582 and soon became one of the country’s most important crown jewels. It passed through the hands of eight kings of Spain over a 200-year period before falling into the hands of Joseph-Napoléon Bonaparte, the elder brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, who became King of Naples and Sicily.
In 1969, Richard Burton paid $37,000 for La Peregrina at auction in New York, before presenting it to his wife, Elizabeth Taylor, on her 37th birthday. It was remounted on a necklace created by Cartier, and the actress often wore it to events and during films.
La Peregrina most recently came up for auction in December 2011 at Christie’s New York. It sold for $11,842,500, more than five times its low estimate, making it at the time the most expensive natural pearl jewel ever sold at auction. Elizabeth Taylor’s collection produced the most successful single-owner jewellery auction in history.
Content courtesy: Christie’s