The Queen Mary Pearl

The Queen Mary Pearl in a setting by Cartier. Photo: L. Phan, SSEF

First published in Facette 26 (May 2020)

As a foremost authority in the testing of natural pearls, the SSEF has had the chance in the past few decades to see and analyse the most unique and outstanding natural pearls in the market, many of them of historic provenance, such as the Peregrina pearl (see Facette No. 19, 2012), the Marie-Antoinette pearl pendant (see Facette No. 25, 2019), and the Ana Maria pearl (see article page 37) to name only a few. As a true highlight of this illustrious collection, we recently had the pleasure to analyse the Queen Mary Pearl, a drop-shaped natural pearl of 41.5 ct (166 grains) of finest quality and lustre.

Based on the provided documentation, this pearl is of historic provenance and is known as the ‘Queen Mary Pearl’, once owned by Queen Mary (1867- 1953). She had accumulated a collection of priceless jewels during her life and they were passed on to her only daughter Princess Royal Mary, Countess of Harewood (1897-1965) after her death. The Queen Mary Pearl of was finally given as a gift to Patricia Lascelles (1926-2018) upon her marriage in 1967 with George Lascelles, 7th Earl of Harewood (1923-2011) and the grandson of the king of the United Kingdom, George V and Queen Mary. Until very recently, this historic pearl was kept as part of the family treasure of the Count and Countess of Harewood.

As this example perfectly shows, gemmological testing of historic items is not only pure material science, but also inspires us as we learn more about the historic provenance and importance of the items we test.

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