Exceptional Pair of Mozambican Rubies Headlines Gemfields’ Auction

An exceptional pair of Mozambican rubies — one weighing 32.5 carats and the other 29 carats — headlined Gemfields’ most recent series of ruby auctions in Bangkok. Each ruby is expected to surpass 10 carats when cut and polished.

Exhibiting a vivid red hue and remarkable crystalline luster, the featured rubies represent the finest production from Montepuez, the most prolific ruby mine in the world.

More specifically, the sizable rough gems were sourced at the Mugloto mining pit, a secondary deposit at the Montepuez mine, where rubies have been concentrated by alluvial flows along ancient paleochannels. Gemfields explained that the stones found in Mugloto secondary deposit are often the most exceptional because they had to survive the arduous journey along the ancient riverbed.

Among the world-famous rubies found at Mugloto are the 45-carat total weight matched pair of vivid red gems called the “Eyes of the Dragon” (2015) and the 40.23-carat “Rhino Ruby” (2014).

Overall, Gemfields reported that the $95.6 million generated during seven mini-auctions held between May 30 and June 17 represented “an all-time high for any Gemfields auction.” The company sold 94.1% of the 119 lots offered, with 49 companies participating in the sealed-bid process.

A portion of the proceeds arising from the sale will be donated to the Quirimbas National Park in Mozambique, a long-standing Gemfields conservation partner.

The Montepuez ruby mine is 75% owned by Gemfields and 25% by Mozambican partner Mwiriti Limitada. Gemfields also operates Kagem, the world’s largest and most productive emerald mine. Kagem is 75% owned by Gemfields and 25% by the Government of the Republic of Zambia.

Credits: Images courtesy of Gemfields.

Finals MVP Steph Curry Breaks Out His Championship Jewelry for Warriors’ Parade

Flaunting a gold chain strung with three NBA championship rings, Finals MVP Steph Curry and the rest of the Golden State Warriors paraded up Market Street in San Francisco on Monday afternoon to celebrate their six-game victory over the Boston Celtics and their fourth Larry O’Brien Trophy in eight years.

When questioned about his jewelry during NBC’s coverage of the parade, Curry said, “I had to bring the jewelry back out. I don’t look at it during the year… But, every once in a while you’ve got to remind yourself. You got four!”

Curry turned to his Instagram Story to show off his three previous championship rings and an armful of trophies. The 2021-2022 championship ring will be unveiled prior to the team’s home opener in late October.

In the world of professional sports, championship rings tend to get more elaborate as teams become dynasties. This was seen with the NFL’s six-time Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots and now with the NBA’s Golden State Warriors (7th title overall).

To mark their 2017-18 championship run, the Warriors employed designer Jason Arasheben, aka Jason of Beverly Hills, who created a technically challenging championship ring composed of nearly 20 pieces.

The ring’s most compelling feature was a reversible top, the first-of-its-kind for a championship ring. The head of the ring, which could be completely detached from its band, had a centerpiece that could be flipped to show blue sapphires on one side or white diamonds on the other. Blue and white are two the Warriors’ primary colors with golden yellow being the third. Twisting off the top of the ring revealed the slogan ‘Strength in Numbers’ etched in gold.

We expect the 2021-2022 edition will be even more impressive.

Curry had a hunch that this year’s team could make it all the way to the championship.

“It’s all about the journey,” he said. “I knew last year, the way that we finished the season, we could carry that momentum into this year. I’d be lying if I said I knew for a fact that we would be NBA champions. [We had to] make that the goal and stay in the present.”

After a stunning 18-2 start to the season, the team was on its way.

The Warriors players began the parade waving to fans from an open-top tour bus. But as the parade progressed, many players jumped down from the bus to meet and greet their passionate and proud Dub Nation fans one-on-one.

Credits: Steph Curry images via Instagram / stephencurry30. Ring image via Instagram/Jason of Beverly Hills.

Journalist’s Nobel Medal Nets $103.5MM at Auction to Benefit Ukrainian Refugees

Russian journalist Dmitri Muratov put his 18-karat gold Nobel medal on the auction block last night, with the proceeds benefiting children who have been displaced by the war in Ukraine. Nobel medals rarely come to auction, and until last night the highest price ever paid for one was $4.76 million. Now the record is $103.5 million.

Muratov, the editor-in-chief of the now-shuttered independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, had already donated his $500,000 cash reward for winning the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize. The melt value of the 175-gram medal is less than $10,000, but the historical and humanitarian significance of Muratov’s medal pushed the bidding at Heritage Auctions to more than 10,000 times that amount. The event was streamed live from The Times Center in midtown Manhattan.

The live auction began at 7:26 p.m. EST with the opening bid at $875,000. Over the first 14 minutes, the bids grew gradually in increments of $100,000. When the price hit $10 million, auctioneer Mike Sadler asked for bids in increments of $200,000.

Four bidders — two on the phone and two online — kept the excitement going until the bidding seemed to stall at $16.6 million. But then, at 7:49 p.m, a Heritage Auctions associate holding paddle #303 shocked the auctioneer, Muratov and the live crowd when he stood up to declare his head-turning bid.

At first, Sadler seemed to not quite comprehend what the associate was saying and asked him to take off his mask and repeat the bid. At that point it was clear the winning bid would be $103,500,000. At the conclusion of the auction, Muratov returned to the stage to hug members of the Heritage Auctions team. The identity of the phone bidder was not immediately disclosed.

Just before the auction, Muratov had said, “I will not see this medal again, but I will like to see the future of those people who will benefit from it.”

The proceeds will go directly to UNICEF to aid with efforts to support Ukrainian refugees, 90% of whom are women and children and 5.2 million who Muratov classified as needing desperate help. Heritage Auctions waived all of its fees related to running the sale.

Fittingly, the bidding had opened on June 1st, International Children’s Day, and concluded on June 20th, World Refugee Day.

Established and financed by Alfred Bernhard Nobel (1833-1896), the Nobel Prize is regarded as the ultimate recognition for contributions to humanity. Nobel wanted to recognize the remarkable achievements of “those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.” Since 1901, Nobel Prizes have been awarded annually for Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and Peace by the Nobel Foundation.

On the rare occasions Nobel prizes come to auction, the results can be spectacular. In 2014, a bidder paid $4.76 million for the medal earned by James Watson, whose co-discovery of the structure of DNA earned him a Nobel Prize in 1962. In 2017, the family of Watson’s co-recipient, Francis Crick, received $2.27 million for his Nobel medal.

Heritage Auctions explained that the Nobel Peace Prize is distinct from the Nobel medals for sciences and literature. Unlike the other prizes awarded in Sweden, the Peace Prize is presented by the Norwegian Nobel Institute. The artistic engravings of the two different medals are distinct, with the Peace Prize more bas-relief than medallic in form. Gustav Vigeland executed the engraving, which since 2012, has been struck by Det Norske Myntverket (Mint of Norway) in Kongsberg.

Prior to the auction, the Norwegian Nobel Institute lauded the sale of a medal for this fundraiser. In a letter of support, Director Olav Njølstad stated, “This generous act of humanitarianism is very much in the spirit of Alfred Nobel. The intended sale is therefore subject to the wholehearted approval of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.”

Measuring 66mm in diameter, the Nobel medal is smaller than the Olympic medals (85mm) awarded in Tokyo last summer. But unlike the Olympic medals, which are made mostly of silver and clad with just six grams of pure gold, the Nobel medals are composed of 18-karat green gold plated in 24-karat gold. The Nobel medals contain 75% gold and about 25% silver, with trace amounts of copper.

This type of alloy is often called green gold, but is also known as electrum, a naturally occurring precious alloy that had been cherished by the ancients. According to sciencenotes.org, the Egyptians used the metal for jewelry, ornaments and drinking vessels. In addition, they used the metal to adorn pyramidions (capstones) atop pyramids, dating back as early as the third millennium BC.

Credits: Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions, HA.com. Screen captures via HA.com.

Diamond-Shaped Cafe Floats Like a Pendant 280 Meters Above Dashbashi Canyon

In an effort to draw hundreds of thousands of adventure tourists each year to its stunning Tsalka Nature Reserve, the country of Georgia has just unveiled a first-of-its-kind “Diamond Bridge” featuring a multi-level diamond-shaped cafe that seems to float like a pendant 280 meters above the Dashbashi Canyon.

The cafe is believed to be the largest and tallest hanging structure in the world, a notion that may soon be affirmed by the authorities at Guinness World Records. The diamond-shaped cafe weighs 9 tons and can accommodate 2,000 tourists.

Designed and constructed by the Georgian-Israeli Kass investment group at a total cost of $38.7 million, the bridge and related amenities took three years to come to fruition.

Tomer Mor Yosef, Vice President of Kass Group, told The Jerusalem Post that the inspiration for the diamond cafe came from how the canyon itself is shaped like a diamond, spanning some 800 meters at the top while only 4 meters at the bottom. The canyon has been carved over time by the Ktsia River.

The bridge spans 240 meters and is made of glass and steel. Tourists can literally see the gorge beneath their feet as they traverse the bridge. The developers also created a bicycle zip line that runs parallel to the bridge and a 40-meter cliff swing.

The complex also includes hiking trails to the canyon, caves and waterfalls, as well as cottages, a hotel, camping site and a visitor’s center.

A two-hour drive from Georgia’s capital of Tbilisi, the Diamond Bridge was opened for visitors last Wednesday. The fee to access the bridge is 29 Georgian Lari ($9.91) for Georgian citizens over 12 years old and 49 GEL ($16.75) for foreigners. Discounts are available for younger visitors and children under 3 can cross for free.

Credit: Photo courtesy of Georgian Government Administration.

Music Friday: Bonnie Raitt Sings, ‘Blame It on Stars Strung Like Jewels From Here to Mars’

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bonnie Raitt compares the stars in the night sky to a fantastical gemstone necklace in her brand new release, “Blame It on Me.”

She sings, “Blame it on stars / Shining like headlights from a million cars / Strung like jewels from here to Mars / Blame it on stars.”

In the song, Raitt tells the story of a woman of advancing age contending with a drifting lover. Her ex-boyfriend is blaming her for the breakup, but she wonders whether the relationship has been a victim of uncontrollable factors, like the stars or the passage of time.

But at the end of the song she predicts, “But one summer night / When my door is open and the moon is new / And some sad melody comes stealing through / And my heart should break in two / If my heart should break in two / Oh baby, ooh / Oh baby, I’m gonna blame it on you / Blame it on you.”

“Blame It on Me” was released in April as the 7th track from Raitt’s new album titled Just Like That… on the artist’s own Redwing label.

“On this record, I wanted to stretch,” Raitt said in a statement. “I always want to find songs that excite me, and what’s different this time is that I’ve tried some styles and topics I haven’t touched on before.”

She added, “I’m really aware of how lucky I am and I feel like it’s my responsibility to get out there and say something fresh and new — for me and for the fans. But I need to have something to say or I won’t put out a record.”

Raitt delivered an intimate, soulful, live performance of the song on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert this past Wednesday. The show was seen by an estimated 3.5 million viewers.

The 72-year-old rocker is also promoting the album on her current seven-month tour, which includes stops in 69 cities from coast to coast.

A 10-time Grammy winner, Raitt rated 50th on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time” and 89th on the magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.” She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.

Please check out the video of Raitt’s live performance of “Blame It on Me” on The Late Show. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Blame It on Me”
Written by John Capek and Andrew Matheson. Performed by Bonnie Raitt.

Blame it on me
Hold up my faults for all to see
Truth is love’s first casualty
Blame it on me

Blame it on me
It’s not the way love is supposed to be
How can you so casually
Blame it on me

Blame it on stars
Shining like headlights from a million cars
Strung like jewels from here to Mars
Blame it on stars

Blame it on time
The fugitive, the vagabond, it’s the perfect crime
Poured like sand through your hands and mine
Blame it on time

How can you talk that way?
Just turn around and walk away
Your words, they sting so heartlessly
So go ahead, be free, blame it all on me

But one summer night
When my door is open and the moon is new
And some sad melody comes stealing through
And my heart should break in two

If my heart should break in two
Oh baby, ooh
Oh baby, I’m gonna blame it on you
Blame it on you

I’ll blame it on you, baby

Credit: Screen capture via Youtube.com / The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Mastercard Survey: Jewelry Sales Growth Continues to Outpace All Other Sectors

Jewelry continues to outperform all other retail sectors, according to statistics released by Mastercard SpendingPulse. Jewelry sales in May of 2022 were up 22.3% compared to May 2021.

When comparing May’s performance with pre-pandemic levels, the numbers are even more impressive. Retail jewelry sales for May 2022 grew 65.4% compared to May of 2019, the strongest three-year gain of any retail sector.

“The continued retail sales momentum in May aligns with the sustained growth rates we’ve seen so far this year,” said Michelle Meyer, U.S. Chief Economist, Mastercard Economics Institute. “The consumer has been resilient, spending on goods and increasingly services as the economy continues to rebalance.”

Mastercard SpendingPulse reported that total U.S. retail sales, excluding automotive, increased 10.5% year-over-year in May, and 21.4% compared to pre-pandemic May 2019. In-store sales were a key driver, up 13.7% compared to pre-pandemic levels.

The jewelry sector has been riding a year-long wave of impressive sales data. Last summer Mastercard singled out “jewelry” as the fastest growing retail sector, with July 2021 sales jumping a whopping 54.2% compared to pre-pandemic July 2019 levels.

In December, the jewelry sector was highlighted again when Mastercard emphasized how “smaller boxes had a big impact” during the holiday season. Jewelry sales soared 32% during the period that spanned November 1 through December 24.

Mastercard SpendingPulse™ reports on US retail sales across all payment types. The findings are based on aggregate sales activity in the Mastercard payments network, coupled with survey-based estimates for certain other payment forms, such as cash and check.

Credits: Shopper image by Bigstockphoto.com. Table courtesy of Mastercard SpendingPulse.

‘Great American Diamonds’ Take Center Stage at Smithsonian’s Newest Exhibit

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History just unveiled “Great American Diamonds,” a new exhibit showcasing four of the most stunning diamonds ever found in the United States.

Some of the new gems going on display are record holders, including the Freedom Diamond, the largest faceted diamond ever to originate in the United States, and the Uncle Sam Diamond, an emerald-cut stone fashioned from the largest uncut American diamond ever discovered.

For decades, the Uncle Sam Diamond was feared to have been lost before recently resurfacing in a private collection. This is the first time the Uncle Sam Diamond has been on public display in more than 50 years.

These precious gemstones hail from the only two diamond mines that have operated in the United States: Arkansas’ Crater of Diamonds (1919–1926) and Colorado’s Kelsey Lake Mine (1996–2001). Together, these sites produced tens of thousands of carats of rough diamonds.

“Most people are surprised to learn that diamonds have been mined in the United States, and as the national museum, we are delighted to introduce these great American diamonds to our visitors,” said mineralogist Jeffrey Post, the museum’s curator-in-charge of gems and minerals.

The flawless 12.4-carat pinkish-brown Uncle Sam Diamond was cut from a crystal weighing a whopping 40.23 carats. The rough gem was discovered at Crater of Diamonds in 1924, making it the largest faceted diamond ever discovered in the Arkansas mine.

The cushion-cut Freedom Diamond, which is now set in a ring, was fashioned from a 28-carat diamond crystal discovered at the Kelsey Lake Mine in 1997.

These American diamonds join the Smithsonian’s National Gem and Mineral Collection, the world’s most visited collection of gems, thanks to gifts by Peter Buck (Uncle Sam Diamond) and Robert E. and Kathy G. Mau (Freedom Diamond). The national collection contains more than 10,000 precious stones and pieces of jewelry, including the iconic Hope Diamond.

“Amazingly, the Uncle Sam and Freedom diamonds were donated to our national collection within a month of each other,” Post said. “The generosity of the donors ensure that these great Earth treasures will forever belong to the people of the United States, and the world.”

In “Great American Diamonds,” the two new gems will be displayed alongside two additional American diamonds from the museum’s collection.

Unearthed in Arkansas, the “Canary Diamond” is a golden-yellow gem crystal weighing nearly 18 carats. This stone is one of the largest uncut diamond crystals from Arkansas. It was discovered in 1917 and acquired by famed civil engineer and mineral collector Washington Roebling, whose son donated it to the Smithsonian nearly a century ago.

Originating in Colorado, the 6.5-carat Colorado Diamond Crystal displays the typical eight-sided (octahedral) shape of natural diamond crystals.

Despite the beauty of the diamonds they produced, neither American mine proved to be commercially successful, causing each to close after less than a decade of operation.

That does not mean that the United States is devoid of diamonds. The Arkansas site where the Uncle Sam Diamond was found has been refashioned into Crater of Diamonds State Park, one of the world’s only diamond-bearing sites accessible to the public. The search area at the park is actually a plowed field atop the eroded surface of an extinct, diamond-bearing volcanic pipe. Visitors have found more than 33,100 diamonds since the Crater of Diamonds opened as an Arkansas State Park in 1972.

During an average year, amateur treasure hunters discover and get to keep roughly 600 new diamonds, potentially unearthing the next “Great American Diamond.”

Credit: Image courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution.

Colombian Army Releases Video of Treasure Strewn From San José Shipwreck

The Colombian army just released fascinating underwater footage of treasure strewn from the wreckage of the San José galleon — a warship sunk by the British Royal Navy in 1708.

Considered to be one of the richest treasure ships ever lost in the Western Hemisphere, the Spanish flagship had been carrying more than 200 tons of valuables, including high-purity gold doubloons, silver coins and chests filled with emeralds. The bounty is estimated to be worth up to $17 billion.

The San José languished on the ocean floor at a depth of nearly 1 kilometer (3,280 feet) for more than 300 years. The Colombian navy formally announced the ship’s discovery in 2015 near the port of Cartagena on Colombia’s coast. Its exact location is considered a state secret.

For many years, a number of entities have claimed ownership of the treasure, including Colombia, Spain, the Qhara Qhara nation of indigenous Bolivians and a professional salvage company.

According to the BBC, Spain had claimed the San José as a “ship of state” as it was under the country’s control when it was sunk. The indigenous Bolivians claimed the ill-gotten Spanish treasure was extracted from the wealth its people. The salvage company, Sea Search Armada, claimed to have found the San José wreckage in the early 1980s.

Built in 1699, the 127-foot-long, three-masted galleon had been escorting 11 merchant ships when it was attacked by a British fleet and exploded during the battle. Of the 600 people aboard, only 11 survived.

The video of the shipwreck taken by a submersible vehicle was shared by Colombian Minister of Defense Diego Molano Aponte. In the video, we can clearly see valuable items, such as gold coins, pottery and Chinese porcelain teacups, scattered across the ocean floor near the wreckage.

Colombian President Ivan Duque praised his country’s navy for capturing “images with a level of precision that’s never been seen before” and has vowed that the treasure from the wreck would remain in Colombia.

It’s expected that valuables from the wreck will be exhibited in a museum to be built in Cartagena.

In an unexpected twist, while studying the site of the San José, the Colombian navy’s submersible vehicle also spotted two new shipwrecks — one of a colonial boat and another of a schooner that dates back to Colombia’s war for independence from Spain in 1819. Colombian officials have yet to offer details about what either ship might have been transporting.

Credits: Screen grabs via Twitter.com / Diego_Molano.

It’s Best to Wear Your Precious Jewelry Through Airport Security, Says TSA

With summer vacations right around the corner, we have fresh information and expert advice on the best way to take your precious jewelry possessions through airport security.

In most cases, it’s perfectly OK to wear your fine jewelry through the checkpoint station instead of removing it, according to the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Your fine jewelry should NEVER be packed into your checked luggage.

As long as the jewelry is not really bulky, you should keep your jewelry on your body as you walk through metal detectors or imaging devices.

Chances are the jewelry won’t alarm, and if it does you can let an officer inspect it with you there.

If you are traveling with very valuable items, you can ask the TSA officer to screen you and your jewelry in private to maintain your security.

“In general, jewelry doesn’t need to be removed before going through security,” wrote the TSA on its Twitter page called @AskTSA. “However, we recommend putting on heavy jewelry after you go through security, to reduce the likelihood of an alarm that results in a pat-down screening.”

In that case, the heavy jewelry should be placed in a carry-on bag and then put on after the screening process.

Additional items should be stored in the carry-on bag because it stays with you throughout your air travel journey. It’s additionally useful to keep your jewelry untangled and organized in a travel jewelry case. These handy travel companions usually have a zipped enclosure with dedicated space for earrings, necklaces, rings and bracelets.

Avoid putting fine jewelry in the plastic bowls that typically hold smaller items, such as pocket change and money clips. Bowls can easily flip over on the conveyor belt.

IMPORTANT: Under no circumstances should you pack your fine jewelry in checked luggage. Here’s real-life example of how doing so can turn out very, very badly…

Back in 2006, the Duchess of Argyll was returning to Glasgow, Scotland, after a short stay in London. The 68-year-old dowager duchess had checked a bag containing more than $150,000 worth of jewelry, including a Victorian diamond tiara, Cartier brooch, emerald ring and pearl earrings.

Yes, the bag was lost.

The Duchess filed a complaint with the airport and police authorities, but the bag was never turned in… or at least that’s what the Duchess believed.

In fact, the bag did resurface, but the airport authorities auctioned the jewelry instead of making any effort to return the items to their rightful owner. A British diamond merchant claimed the lot for a mere $7,500 (exactly 5% of their value) and the proceeds were donated by the airport to charity.

In 2012, the Duchess spotted her Cartier brooch in a Scottish auction catalog and promptly hired a lawyer to investigate. Airport authorities were embarrassed by a lost-luggage saga with high-profile implications.

After offering to reimburse the diamond merchant for his cooperation, operators of Glasgow Airport successfully reunited the Duchess with her brooch and tiara. Sadly, she would never see her emerald ring or pearl earrings again. A hard lesson learned.

Credit: Image by Bigstockphoto.com.

World’s Most Celebrated Natural Pearl Almost Ended Up in the Belly of a Beast

In 1513, an African slave discovered a perfectly symmetrical, pear-shaped, 55.95-carat natural pearl in the waters off the coast of Panama, and for the next 500+ years the treasure would wind its way through the royal boudoirs of Spain, England, France and Austria, earning it the Spanish name “La Peregrina,” or “The Pilgrim.”

Today, La Peregrina is arguably the most celebrated natural pearl of all time and one of the finest examples of June’s official birthstone.

Throughout its history, the pearl has been cherished and protected, albeit with a few exceptions. Legend has it that the pearl was once lost and then found between the cushions of a sofa at Windsor Castle. In a second instance, the pearl disappeared during a wedding reception at Buckingham Palace, only to be spotted a little later hitching a ride on the bride’s train.

But La Peregrina was nearly lost forever under the stewardship of actress Elizabeth Taylor.

In 1969, Richard Burton spent $37,000 (outbidding a prince at Sotheby’s) to buy La Peregrina for his wife, Taylor, as a gift for Valentine’s Day. In a Caesars Palace suite, Taylor had been wearing the famous pearl on a delicate pearl-and-diamond chain, but then realized it was gone.

In her book, My Love Affair with Jewelry, Taylor shared a moment-by-moment account of what happened next.

“I glanced over at Richard and thank God he wasn’t looking at me, and I went into the bedroom and threw myself on the bed, buried my head into the pillow and screamed,” Taylor recalled. “Very slowly and very carefully, I retraced all my steps in the bedroom. I took my slippers off, took my socks off, and got down on my hands and knees, looking everywhere for the pearl. Nothing. I thought, ‘It’s got to be in the living room in front of Richard. What am I going to do. He’ll kill me!’ Because he loved the piece.”

Then Taylor noticed one of her puppies munching on something.

“I just casually opened the puppy’s mouth and inside his mouth was the most perfect pearl in the world,” she wrote. “It was — thank God— not scratched.”

Shortly thereafter, Taylor commissioned Cartier to reset La Peregrina with pearls, diamonds and rubies in a majestic necklace that was to resemble the jewelry worn by Mary, Queen of Scots, in a famous portrait. The pearl’s original setting can be seen in Taylor’s cameo in Anne of the Thousand Days (1969). The new, more exquisite, setting makes brief cameos in the films Divorce His — Divorce Hers (1973) and A Little Night Music (1977).

In 2005, La Peregrina was one of 12 rare pearls featured during a six-month exhibition called “The Allure of Pearls” at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.

Taylor passed away in March of 2011 at the age of 79. Later that same year, La Peregrina headlined a high-profile auction of Taylor’s jewelry at Christie’s New York, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the The Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation.

Christie’s had set the pre-sale estimate for La Peregrina at $2 million to $3 million, but enthusiastic bidding for the historic piece drove the final price to $11.8 million.

Natural pearls, such as La Peregrina, are exceedingly rare because they are created by mollusks randomly, without human intervention. When a grain of sand or similar irritant gets between the mollusk’s shell and its mantle tissue, the process begins.

To protect itself, the mollusk instinctually secretes multiple layers of nacre, an iridescent material that eventually becomes a pearl. Cultured pearls, by contrast, are created when a bead is embedded inside the body of the mollusk to stimulate nacre secretion.

Credits: Images courtesy of Christie’s.