Elizabeth Taylor’s Dog Almost Ate The Famed La Peregrina Pearl

Elizabeth Taylor‘s jewelry collection wasn’t just full of gorgeous baubles — some of her pieces have some serious history. Exhibit A: the La Peregrina pearl.

The 55.95-carat pearl was originally acquired by King Phillip II of Spain in 1582, and was subsequently passed down through the Spanish monarchy until 1808, when it was obtained by Napoleon‘s brother Joseph Bonaparte. It was then held by Prince Louis Napoleon of France and the Duke and Duchess of Abercorn, until Richard Burton bought it in 1969 from Sotheby’s for $37,000.

Mere minutes after Burton presented the pearl to Taylor on Valentine’s Day, she lost it. As former Sotheby’s jewelry division head Ward Landrigan tells Page Six:

“[She] came back running, showing her cleavage and saying, ‘Ward! I’ve lost the pearl!’ The room had pink shag carpeting, and I was crawling past a settee when I saw one of [Taylor’s] two Lhasa apsos, and I heard the crunch. I said, ‘Liz, I know where the pearl is.’ She got the dog to spit it out. I was afraid it cracked because pearls do.”

Thankfully there were only a few scratches on the famed jewel. Taylor later commissioned Cartier to incorporate the pearl into a stunning diamond and ruby necklace that was valued between $2 million and $3 million. It was sold last week at Christie’s for $11.8 million. Here are the catalog details:

Suspending a detachable drop-shaped natural pearl pendant, weighing approximately 202.24 grains or 50.56 carats, measuring approximately 17.35 – 17.90 x 25.50 mm, with an old mine-cut and rose-cut diamond and silver foliate bail, suspended from a circular-cut diamond flame motif set with a pear-shaped ruby, spaced by a detachable pear-shaped ruby and natural pearl link, to the two-strand necklace, comprising fifty-six natural pearls and four cultured pearls, intersected by eight circular-cut diamond and cushion-cut ruby flame motif plaques, mounted in platinum and gold, La Peregrina late 16th century; diamond bail early 19th century; natural pearl, diamond, ruby and cultured pearl necklace by Cartier 1972, 13½ ins., pendant may also be worn as a brooch, accompanied by the seed pearl and platinum neckchain from the time of the purchase at auction in 1969, 30¾ ins.

Now that is was fancy, storied gem.


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