Author: Olga Novoselova

Despite the broad variety of gorgeous

pearls known to mankind,

several unique masterpieces still

exist conquering human hearts with their

uniqueness. These include the famous Pelegrina

pearl. Its history is very interesting

which began in the 16th century after being

found near San Domingo. The pearl

was of unprecedented beauty, having a

unique pear-shaped form and a pure milky

white color, with about 33 carats weight.

Many monarchs in Europe owned this

pearl including the French King Philip IV,

who presented the pearl as a wedding gift

to his daughter Marie-Teresa. Until 1707,

the pearl dwelled at France. However, then

its trail went cold. It appeared in Russia in

the 19th century. In 1826, Princess Tatyana

Vasilievna Yusupova bought the pearl Pelegrina

from a merchant. Thus, this pearl

appeared in the Yusupov family.

The Yusupovs were Russian nobles and

one of the richest family in Russia after

the Romanovs. Their fortune exceeded

15 million royal rubles by that time. The

wealth and luxury being owned by the Yusupovs

amazed the imagination of even

tsar’s family.

Over time, the pearl descended to other

family members and the brightest glory

of Pelegrina fell on the time of Zinaida Nikolaevna

Yusupova, who wore this pearl

almost every day without taking it off. At

that time, its price was at least one million

rubles. (photo)

Since then, the value of this pearl has increased

several times. Today, even the most

experienced expert will not take the

responsibility to defi ne the real value of

this unique jewel. Pelegrina is precious

because its shape is considered to be

exemplary accurate, and its purity is splendid.

The pearl has become the most

valuable jewel in the Yusupov’s treasury.

When Zinaida’s son, Felix Yusupov, married

Irina Romanova, the mother-in-law

presented her daughter-in-law a family

heirloom as a wedding gift. And the precious

pendant turned out to be entangled

in the story of the murder of Grigori


The ‘elders’ and favorite of the imperial

family, Grigori Rasputin, was very interested

in observing it . He repeatedly

reminded the aristocrat of his desire to

see Pelegrina. Thus, when it was necessary

to allure the ‘elders’ into the Yusupov’s

palace, the prince promised to present the

pearl to Rasputin. The old man, madly

dreaming of getting a sea jewel, went to

prince’s house, where he was killed.

Fleeing from the revolution in 1917,

the Yusupovs entrusted the supervision

of their property safety to Buzhinsky, a

butler. Undoubtedly, while leaving the

country, the Yusupovs could not take

away all their treasures, and they were

hidden in numerous cunning hiding

places. The Bolshevists thoroughly ransacked

all the Yusupovs’ houses and interrogated

the servants. As a result, only

two vaults were found with hidden works

of art and jewelry. But Pelegrina pearl was

not there.

Russian agents kept tabs on the wealthy

aristocrats who had succeeded in leaving

Russia, however, they failed in fi nding any

traces of Pelegrina. Not only Russian agents

were looking for the pearl. Americans and

rich Arabs were interested in it, but traces

seemed to be completely lost.

Years passed, Felix Yusupov, together with

his wife and faithful servant Grishka, lived

out their lives in Paris. A rich aristocrat was

not used to counting money, so he spent

and gave it away without counting. Soon, he

completely ran out of money and in 1953 the

prince, having taken out Pelegrina from the

cache, went to the famous Parisian jeweler.

The last trace of the pearl appeared in 1989,

when it surfaced in the form of a diamond

pendant at Christie’s in Geneva. At that

time, it was sold to an unknown buyer for

$ 486,000.

Yusupov, of course, had received much less

for the pearl,

but this money

was quickly

spent by

the aristocrat.

For the rest

of his life, he

lived at the

expense of his

only servant