La Peregrina Pearl

Pat Wagstaff looks at the history of a famous jewel that is reputed to have an association with Mary I, and is now in the possession of Elizabeth Taylor.

It is a magnificent jewel and Mary I wears it in almost all her portraits as queen. It consists of two gold mounted diamonds, a smaller one above and a huge square table diamond in a rose setting below. A large pearl hangs from the lower diamond. It is often said that this pearl is La Peregrina, ‘The Wanderer’, a 58½ carat pear-shaped pearl, and that it was given to Mary by Philip as a wedding present and returned to him by the terms of her will. La Peregrina is now owned by Elizabeth Taylor: Richard Burton bought it for her in New York in 1969.


How much of the story can be authenticated? Is the pearl that Mary is wearing in her portraits La Peregrina? Did Philip give it to her as a wedding or pre-wedding present? And was it returned to him after the Queen’s death?


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