Have you ever wondered who a piece of jewelry belonged to before it became yours? Or maybe you've wondered what happened to a particular ring or bracelet that you saw in a piece of art? We'll you aren't the only one. Questions like these tickled author Lynn Cullen's mind until she decided to create a historical fiction tale to document the movements of one particular pearl in the collection owned by the recently deceased Elizabeth Taylor.
Elizabeth Taylor owned many spectacular jewels, but none of them has a more fascinating pedigree than the pearl called La Peregrina (The Wanderer). The pearl lives up to its name. Since its first appearance in the sixteenth century, it has made its way from breast to breast of many a famous woman.
It has lain upon the stiff bodice of Mary I of England, known to us, perhaps unfairly, as Bloody Mary. It has dangled jauntily from the cap worn by Elisabeth of Valois, the teenaged wife of the Spanish King with the ill-fated Armada, Philip II. It has posed for its portrait by the first female painter of the Renaissance, Sofonisba Anguissola. If it could talk, the stories it would tell!
According to legend, the world’s largest (originally 55.95 carats) and most perfect white pear-shaped pearl was found in the Gulf of Panama by a slave who was given his freedom by presenting it to his master. A conquistador was said to then give it to Philip II, who in turn bestowed it upon his first wife, Bloody Mary.