The World’s Most Expensive Pearls (Part 1)

What makes pearls cost more than a million dollars? Two top of mind answers: natural pearls and provenance. Here now is a list of the most expensive pearl jewelry in the world and find out WHY they are so.

1. Rare Three-Strand Natural Pearl Necklace.  $ 1.4 million (sold by Christie’s in 2013) 2ver3 On April 16, 2013, this RARE NATURAL THREE-STRAND NECKLACE  was auctioned at Christie’s as part of New York Magnificent Jewels. It is formed of 180 large-sized individual pearls. Ranging in size from 4.95 to 11.05 mm in diameter, the pearls are beautifully matched and graduated and the necklace is completed with an ornate cabochon emerald and diamond clasp.  

2. COWDRAY Pearls.  $ 3.3 million  (sold by Christie’s in 2012)

6 A RARE NATURAL GREY PEARL NECKLACE that set on 2012 the world record price  for natural grey pearls.  It is composed of a single row of thirty-eight graduated natural grey pearls, measuring 11.4-6.8mm, to the rectangular mixed-cut diamond clasp, 43.2cm long. From the collection of the late Viscountess Cowdray, Lady Pearson (1860-1932), these rare and beautiful coloured pearls are a testament to their owner’s discerning taste as a distinguished connoisseur and collector.

“The pearl is the queen of gems and the gem of queens.”

 

Often referred to as the “queen of gems,” the pearl has been a prized adornment in all cultures since ancient times. Today, matched strands of natural pearls have become almost extinct, as the traditional pearling industry has all but vanished in the Middle East. As a result, natural pearls of important size and quality have become increasingly sought-after by collectors from all regions of the world, and their appearance at auctions is always a major event for the jewelry world.

 

3.  A SUPERB FIVE-STRAND NATURAL PEARL NECKLACE.  $ 1.7 million (sold by Christie’s in 2012)

7 A superb FIVE-STRAND NATURAL PEARL NECKLACE 
Of seventy-three, seventy-three, seventy-two, sixty-eight and sixty-three graduated natural pearls, measuring from approximately 4.10 to 11.35 mm, joined by a blue silk cord, length adjustable. Listen to the audio here.

 

4. AN EXCEEDINGLY RARE DOUBLE-STRAND NATURAL PEARL NECKLACE. $ 3.7 million (sold by Christie’s in 2012) 8 An exceedingly RARE DOUBLE-STRAND NATURAL PEARL NECKLACE formed of 120 large-sized individual pearls. Ranging in size from 6.50 to 12.25 mm in diameter, the pearls range in coloration from white to light cream, with subtle rosé and green overtones and superb luster. This beautifully matched double strand is accented with a 3-carat, D color diamond clasp signed by Cartier.

All jewelry photographs courtesy of Christie’s New York.

For Part 2 of this post, you will discover the most expensive pearl jewelry that are not just composed of natural pearls but with royalty provenance. Like the  historic single-strand pearl necklace that had been owned by American Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton, as well as Marie-Antoinette and several members of European royal families before her. Another is the historic Baroda Pearls, worn for centuries by the Indian Maharajas from the Royal state of Baroda,  which was sold by Christie’s New York for a staggering $7.1 million.

Watch out for Part 2 of this post

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21 Responses to The World’s Most Expensive Pearls (Part 1)

  1. I should better invest my savings in pearls!
    Beautiful and timeless.
    Thanks for the great blog.

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  4. The Great Depression effectively slashed the value of the natural pearl, but there is no doubt that it had been some time coming. The introduction and advance of the cultured pearl hit the pearl industry hard; it had pearl dealers publicly disputing over the authenticity of these new cultured pearls, and left many consumers uneasy and confused about the much lower prices. Essentially, it damaged the image of both natural and cultured pearls alike. By the 1950s, an era of every woman being able to own her own pearl necklace had begun, and natural pearls were reduced to a small, exclusive niche in the pearl industry.

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  6. Pearl Values It’s often assumed that because something’s old it must be valuable. That’s rarely true and certainly not for pearls. Advances in technology and culturing techniques mean you can buy a better set of pearls for less money than in grandma’s day. Second-hand pearls usually aren’t worth much unless there’s something special about them – like if they’re wild pearls or were owned by someone famous. Jackie Kennedy’s much-loved triple strand of glass pearls went for over $200,000 at auction in 1996. An identical replica set can be had for only $99 ! In 1917 jeweller Pierre Cartier bought his company’s Fifth Avenue headquarters in New York with $100 in cash and a two-strand natural pearl necklace valued at $1 million. In 1957 the same necklace was auctioned for just $157,000.

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  8. efpierce says:

    The provenance of the pearls can make or break them. And it doesn’t just include pearls, there are many collectible items that rely on provenance to increase their value.

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  11. tohaggle says:

    Hello, very nice and informative article you have shared with us who love pearls. I appreciate your efforts. Thanks

  12. val yenko says:

    That 3 strand is absolutely beautiful! I don’t understand the term provenance. Is that where the pearls are from or is it who has had them?

    • admin says:

      Great question. Provenance here refers to the history of the ownership of the jewellery.

  13. It’s in fact very beautiful to see these pearls but best that they are worn.

  14. I’ll apply this idea…… It can be fun!

  15. I appreciate you sharing this article post.Really looking forward to read more. Awesome.

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  19. Beautiful pictures! Beautiful pearl necklaces! Thank you for sharing.