Pearls are hard glistening objects that exist through the calcification of nature but through their rareness and beauty, have become some of the most admired gemstones in the world. It is for this reason that pieces of jewelry made out of pearls are some of the most coveted items in the world, collected by royalties, celebrities, and collectors irrespective of their prices. Some of the most expensive pearl necklaces ever sold at auctions were purchased by competitors’ fierce drive to own one of the gems.
Although technology now allows us to make pearls of our own, nothing compares to the illustrious history and natural greatness of natural pearl jewelry, and as a result, they remain one of the most prestigious things for anyone to own. We’ll take a look 10 most expensive pearl necklaces ever sold below, check them out.
10 Most Expensive Pearl Necklaces Ever Sold
1. La Peregrina – $11.8 million
There are plenty of luxurious things you could own with $11.8 million – it could buy you a sports car, a high rise apartment in New York or Los Angeles, a mansion with multiple bedrooms and a bathrooms but if you were in Christie’s Auction House in 2011, it would only be enough to get you the La Pregrina, aka The Pilgrim or The Wanderer.
La Peregrina has been in existence for over 500 years, having first been originally discovered by an African Slave in the Gulf of Panama. The pearl has gone through a journey through Spain where it was worn by the bride of King Phillip II, Mary I of England who wore the jewel until her death.
Following her death, the pearl remained in the vaults of the Crown Jewels of Spain for 250 years until it was stolen by Joseph Bonaparte who sold the pearl to the Duke of Abercorn in England. Before becoming the most expensive pearl necklace ever sold at auction, it was won by the actress, Elizabeth Taylor who was gifted the pearl by her husband, Richard Burton.
It eventually made its way to Christie’s Auction house after her death and was sold for $11.8 million in 2011.
2. The 7-Strand Festoon Natural White Pearl Necklace – $9.08 million
A Royal family that has remained anonymous to date once owned this jewelry, a natural pearl necklace that is amazing in the simplicity of its design and looks.
However, do not be fooled by its simple look, the necklace consists of creamy-rose natural pearls which are believed to have been from the Pinctada Radiata saltwater oyster species in the Persian Gulf.
The necklace has a total of 614 pearls that are in a continuous layout and are clasped together with a white gold bar clasp and Old Mine Cut Diamond accents. It is an expensive simplicity and it is no wonder that it was sold for $9 million at the Christie’s Auction House.
3. The Baroda Pearl Necklace – $7.1 million
In April 2007, The Baroda Pearl Necklace assumed its place as the third most expensive pearl necklace ever sold when it went for $7.1 million at a Christie’s Auction House in 2007.
Before The Baroda Pearls became what they are today, they were part of a Seven-Strand Pearl Necklace that matched natural pearls in stunning and exquisite fashion. The pearls’ provenance shows it was owned by Indian Maharajas of Baroda, under which it became a famous piece of jewelry through its beauty.
Eventually, the Seven-Strand Pearl Necklace was broken up and sold to different collectors across the world but the largest portion of the necklace was reformed and transformed into a Double-Strand Pearl Necklace, designed by luxury jeweler, Cartier.
The modern beauty was old in April 2007 along with Cartier natural pearl earrings, sparkling diamonds, a diamond brooch, and ring suite, all for a large sum of $7.1 million to put it third among the most expensive pearl necklace ever sold at auction.
4. The Cowdry Natural Black Pearl Necklace – $5.3 million
Just ahead of the Natural Black Saltwater Pearl Necklace as the fourth most expensive pearl necklace ever sold at auction is the Cowdry Natural Black Pearl Necklace which went for $5.3 million in October 2015. It was sold at a Sotheby’s Auction in Hong Kong in 2015.
The pearl necklace was originally owned by the Viscountess Cowdray, Lady Pearson. It features a natural black necklace with a stunning collection of pearls of different colors, such as Aubergine, Silver and Mink Overtones, Green, Peaker, and medium-dark charcoal grey body colors.
The natural pearls have a size between 6.8 and 11.4mm and have a total of 38 pearls all of which were finished with a mixed-cut of a rectangular diamond clasp.
Before it was finally sold for $5.3 million in October 2015, it fetched $3 million at an auction at Christie’s in London.
5. 4-Strand Natural Black Saltwater Pearl Necklace – $5.1 million
Pearls are often known for their creamy color but this necklace stands out with its black colored pearls. The necklace consists of 63. 69, 76, 81 wild pearls which range in color of dark charcoal grey with overtones of peacock, green, aubergine and silver/steel.
The provenance says very little about the origins of the necklace or the pearls but the completely natural pearl necklace fetched $5.1 million from Christie’s Auction House in New York in 2011. The efficacy of the pearls was proven by the Swiss Gemological Institute.
6. The Duchess of Windsor Pearl Necklace – $4.8 million
One of the simpler designs on this list, the Duchess of Windsor Pearl Necklace is a single strand natural pearl necklace that has a history that dates back to the Imperial Russian Era. However, it was famously part of the Duchess of Windsor’s jewelry collection after which it was sold at an auction for $4.8 million to Calvin Klein, who bought it as a gift for his wife.
The pearl necklace was originally owned by the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia. The current look of the pearl necklace was designed by Cartier of Paris. The natural pearls were placed in a symmetrical shape with a diamond clasp of two Emerald cut diamonds and a diamond pendant. Along with the pearl necklace are pearl earrings.
The proceed from the auction of the necklace was donated to medical research and charity.
7. The Cartier Natural Double-Strand Pearl Necklace – $3.7 million
This necklace was sold at an auction for $3.7 million in 2012. The silvery-white and creamy-colored natural pearls have a total of 120 pearls which range between 6.5 to 12.25mm in size. They are round in shape and have an iridescent pink to green Orient shine to them.
Aside from the pearls itself, the necklace is fashioned with a custom-designed diamond clasp by Cartier. It may not have the most jaw-dropping figure on our list of the most expensive pearl necklaces ever sold at auction but it shares a similar jaw-dropping look.
8. The Barbara Hutton/Marie Antoinette Single Strand – $1.47 million
Sometimes, the greatness of a pearl necklace isn’t so much the quality of the pearls itself but rather its very rich history and the Barbara Hutton/Marie Antoinette pearl necklace has a bit of history. The necklace was originally owned by Marie Antoinette who famously met her end at the business point of a guillotine.
How the necklace made its way out of France during the revolution remains unknown but it did not become an official part of a collection until 1933 when it was gifted to Barbara Hutton, the socialist in 1933. She owned the necklace until her death before it made its way to an auction in 1999 where it was sold for $1.47 million at Christie’s Auction house. At the time of sale, it was the most expensive pearl necklace in the world.
As one of the most expensive pearl necklaces in the world, the Barbara Hutton/Marie Antoinette Single Strange Natural Pearl Necklace has 44 round pearls, all of which measure between 8.7 to 16.33mm and have a turquoise and diamond clasp finish.
9. The Emerald Cabochon Three Strand Natural Pearl Necklace – $1.4 million
Coming shortly behind the Barbara Hutton/Marie Antoinette pearl necklace is the Emerald Cabochon which has 180 pearls with a graduate display. It also features an emerald cabochon detail and a diamond clasp.
Although in a list like this, it belongs among pearl necklaces that one would describe as cheap having been sold at a New York Magnificent Jewels auction for $1.4 million, it retains the gorgeous and amazing look common to other members of this list.
10. The Dodge Pearl Necklace – $1.1 million
One of the pearl necklaces on this list with a storied history, the Dodge Pearl Necklace earned its name following its sale to Horace Dodge by Cartier for $825,000 which translates to $70 million in today’s dollar figure.
The pearl necklace originally belonged to the Russian empress, Catherine the Great and was bought by Cartier after the Russian Revolution.
The necklace remained in the Dodge family, who are known for the Dodge Motor Company, for generations. Over time, the original necklace, which was a multi-strand natural pearl necklace was broken into parts – a single strand pearl necklace, a Double-strand and a Triple Strand Pearl Necklace.
The Triple Strand Pearl Necklace was sold at a Christie’s Auction House for $1.1 million to come up as the 10th pearl necklace in our list of the most expensive pearl necklaces ever sold at auction.