The Wide World of Pearls, Our 59th Issue: The Rarest and Most Expensiv
RARE ROYAL PURPLE PEARLS
These are the pearls we love to hunt down. I mean who wouldn’t love finding a large, natural royal purple or crisp white Freshwater pearl with metallic luster?
For our last pearl post this June (the month of the Pearl), we decided to showcase some of the most glamorous, RARE and EXPENSIVE pearls the world has ever seen.
Traditionally, the most expensive pearls in the world are going to be older, natural pearls with a rich history and story behind them … That said, some wild pearls are still busy setting records in 2022! Let’s take a look at the latest, most updated list of the Most Rare & Expensive Pearls in the World.
Marie Antoinette’s Pearl Drop Pendant & Necklace
Marie Antoinette was executed during the French Revolution; however in 1791 just before Antoinette began gathering her children to flee Versailles, she sent some of her most treasured jewels out of the country for safekeeping with a trusted friend of hers.
Some of her jewels have never been seen again, but the famous natural pearl drop pendant suspended from this large oval diamond with bow motif and the triple strand pearl necklace recently resurfaced and went to auction at Sotheby’s. These and other important pieces with proven provenance had not been seen publicly for over 200 years … this was a very exciting auction!
The pearl drop measures 18.0 x 26.0mm, and the Triple Strand Natural Pearl Necklace features 331 pearls with a diamond clasp. Both items sold to an anonymous bidder “European Anonymous” for a startling $36,165,090.00, breaking the previous record held by La Peregrina.
“The Dragon’s Egg” White Conch Pearl
Before the practice of culturing pearls was invented, rare Pink Conch pearls were valued as highly as Rubies, Sapphires and Diamonds. Conch pearls are known for their gorgeous pink to peach colors, fun oval and egg-shapes and their unique flame patterns which light up just under the surface of the pearl.
A nice-sized pink conch pearl is found in one out of every 15,000 Queen Conch shells. Even rarer than Pink Conch pearls are White Conch pearls … these unique pearls are found in 1 in 1,000,000 conch pearls!
The Dragon’s Egg is a supreme rarity among conch pearls: not only is this stunning white pearl a 1 in a million find … The Dragon’s Egg weighs an eye-watering 86.24 carats in size. The Dragon’s Egg Conch Pearl is a one-of-a-kind treasure in the world, currently valued at $1.4 million.
The Bao Dai / Sunrise Pearl – Melo Melo
Melo Melo pearls are another very rare natural pearl type produced by a marine snail Melo Melo, also called Indian Volute, Bailer Snail, and Melo Amphora. These stunning pearls are famous for their fiery orange colors and optical phenomenon of flame pattern (chatoyancy) just like Conch pearls. Melo Melo pearls are even more rare than Conch pearls – finding a Melo Melo pearl has a chance of just 1 in 50,000 snail shells!
The largest Melo Melo pearl in the world is the Bao Dai pearl. The pearl is believed to have belonged to the collection of Bao Dai, the last emperor of Vietnam. The Vietnamese have long revered Melo Melo pearls, believing these pearls are the natural “fireballs” of nature. The Buddhists believed these pearls to be a symbol of perfection, and legend holds that they are one of the eight precious emblems of the Buddha.
Also known as the Sunrise Pearl due to its striking and fiery orange hues, the Bao Dai pearl is the largest, roundest Melo Melo pearl in the world. It measures 37.97-37.58mm in diameter, and weighs an incredible 397.52 carats. The pearl has never been up for auction and is currently owned by Mr. Ray Chen of Vietnam, but the last recorded private offer for the pearl was $7,000,000.00.
The “Giga” Clam Pearl
The Giga Clam pearl was passed down to Mr. Abraham Reyes from Mississauga, ON, Canada from an aunt of his who lived in Manila, the Philippines. She in turn inherited the pearl from her father in 1959.
The pearl weighs 27 kilograms (60 pounds) and is about the size of a baby … some specialists have estimated the value of the pearl to be between $60-90 Million. Reyes plans to showcase his pearl in museums around the world to raise awareness regarding the delicate ecology of the oceans and how rare and lucky we are to have the gift of pearls.
718.50 carat Abalone Pearl
Found by Peter Truong in 2010, this iridescent Blue-Green Abalone pearl is the newest Guinness Book Record Holder as the world’s largest Abalone, knocking off Wes Rankin’s 469.13ct “Big Pink” Abalone pearl which previously held the #1 spot on the list.
Found while diving off the California Coast in Mendocino, the large “horn-shaped” Abalone does not have an official name yet, and no official appraisal price exists … that said, it still deserves a place on our list as the largest (and therefore rarest!) Abalone pearl in existence.
La Peregrina – The Wanderer
No list would be complete without mentioning La Peregrina, also known as “The Pilgrim” or the “The Wanderer”. This large, gorgeous natural pearl got its name due to its 500 year journey through history and royal collections. Originally found in the Gulf of Panama by an African slave, La Peregrina was brought back to Spain, and presented to King Philip II who gifted it to his bride to be, Mary I of England. Upon her death, La Peregrina returned to the Crown Jewels of Spain, and remained there for 250 years.
By 1808, Joseph Bonaparte – Napoleon’s older brother – became King of Spain. He was forced to abdicate his throne in 1811, and La Peregrina was among the treasures that he took with him in his flight. The pearl was willed to Napoleon III after his death, and La Peregrina eventually was sold to the Duke of Abercorn in England. It stayed within the family’s collection for nearly a century before finally being purchased at auction by actor Richard Burton in 1969 for $37,000.00.
Burton famously gifted La Peregrina to his wife, Elizabeth Taylor – a known jewelry and pearl connoisseur. Taylor treasured her Valentine’s Day gift, and wore it often in many configurations over the decades, until she had the jeweler Cartier create a show stopping necklace of pearls, rubies and diamonds to showcase the gem. Taylor could be seen wearing La Peregrina until her death, and the pearl was sent to Christie’s Auction House in 2011, where it sold for $11.8 Million (previously the record holder for pearl auction sales until 2018).
The Paspaley Pearl – Cultured White South Seas
While not “the” largest White South Sea pearl ever cultured, it IS the most perfect! Grown by the Paspaley Pearl Pty Company at their world-famous pearl farms in Broome, Western Australia in 2002 the Paspaley Pearl was immediately set aside in the company’s vaults and declared the roundest, largest, most beautifully colored and lustrous pearl they’d ever cultured.
The Paspaley Pearl measures 20.40mm in diameter and features a cool Silver-White body color with delicate Rose overtones and extraordinary luster borne of thick nacre layers estimated to be up to 6.0mm thick. While no official pricing estimates exist, it is certainly worth a pretty penny considering its legendary beauty, size and provenance.
The Palawan Golden South Sea Cultured Pearl Necklace
From the world-renowned producers of Golden South Sea cultured pearls, Jewelmer, comes the Palawan Strand. This amazing South Sea necklace consists of perfect 24K Golden South Sea pearls measuring 16.0-18.0mm in size.
Stringing together these most precious golden pearls matched according to shape, size, color, and luster The Palawan strand was completed over a time of 37 years. This one of a kind necklace could easily fetch $1,000,000.00, but no official pricing exists that we could find.
The Pearl Royale Chess Set
Born out of his life-long love of chess, Australian artist Colin Burn created the Pearl Royale Chess Set in 2021; only 3 of these limited edition sets will ever be made. Each solid 18k white gold chess piece is painstakingly pave’ set with the highest quality fine diamonds, AAA South Sea pearls and Ceylon Blue sapphires, sitting atop a crystal glass board embellished with solid 18k white gold, South Sea pearl and fine diamond set corners. The underside of each piece is intricately designed and channel set with the same quality fine diamonds and finished with smooth polished edges to glide effortlessly across the crystal glass board.
“The Pearl Royale’s decadence is symbolic of how I value the game itself. I love how chess brings people together from all societies, cultures and backgrounds. Win lose or draw, we shake hands to show our respect.”
— Colin Burn
Featuring 513 carats of diamonds, AAA quality White South Sea Pearls and Black Tahitian pearls, 18K Gold and Ceylon Sapphires, this stunning masterpiece retails for $4,000,000 each.
9-11mm South Sea Multicolor Baroque Pearl Necklace
This strand is perfect for the pearl lover who wants a unique South Sea multicolor baroque necklace. This exotic pearl necklace measures at 9-11mm in size and includes beautiful white and golden South Sea pearls throughout.
All pieces in this multicolor pearl necklace are AAA in quality, with only minor natural blemishes (please look at our pearl grading section). Customize your necklace by selecting your favorite necklace length and clasp.
All of our pearl pieces arrive in an elegant jewelry box, ready for gifting.
- Comes finished with gold mountings of your choice.
- Includes Certificate of Authenticity.