Pearls of Mary where did Queen Elizabeth I get some of her Pearls?

Portraits document the pearls of Mary Stuart...a vast collection.

An interesting side note by me, Kari, on Mary Queen of Scots is that I have a friend who is in the queen's family line. I think it's exciting to be a part of a royal family or know someone who is...ummm, too bad she didn't inherit some of the pearls of Mary Stuart.

The pearls owned by the unfortunate Mary Queen of Scots (1542-1587) were among the most beautiful in europe. Inventories of these (See Robertson, "Inventaires de la royne d'Ecosse." Bannatyne club, 1863.) show great bordures de tour of large pear pearls with entredeux of round pearls, long ropes of pearls strung like beads on a rosary, carcans or broad belts set with pearls, and a large number of loose pearls.

Many of these appear in the portraits of this popular queen; but probably the most remarkable exhibition of them is in the portrait now owned by the Earl of Leven and Melville (See Lang, "Portraits and Jewels of Mary Stuart," Edinburgh, 1906.), which appears to agree fairly well with the inventories of her jewels, although this portrait is not wholly free from impeachment as to its accuracy and contemporaneousness.

Mary Queen of Scots
Mary Queen of Scots
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What became of the Pearls of Mary Stuart?

After the downfall of the queen, most of her jewels were sold, pawned, or lost by theft. A number of them passed into the possession of Queen Elizabeth in 1568, in a manner not wholly satisfactory to lovers of justice.

Some of these were described in a letter dated May 8, 1568, and addressed to Catharine de' Medici by Bodutel de la Forest, the French ambassador at the English court, as "six cordons of large pearls, strung as paternosters; but there are about twenty-five separate from the others much larger and more beautiful than those which were strung.

Mary Queen of Scots
Mary Queen of Scots
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Value of the Pearls of Mary Stuart

They were first shown to three or four jewelers and lapidaries of this city, who estimated them at three thousand pounds sterling, and who offered to give that sum; certain Italian merchants who viewed them afterwards valued them at 12,000 escus, which is the price, as I am told, this queen (Elizabeth) will take them at. There is a Genevese who saw them after the others and estimated them as worth 16,000 escus"

Catharine de' Medici, who was a mother-in-law of Mary Stuart, was very anxious to obtain these pearls; but the ambassador wrote on May 15, 1568, that he had found it impossible to purchase them; for, as he had told her from the first they were intended for the gratification of the Queen of England, who had purchased them at her own price, and was even then in possession of them. (Teulet, "Relation," etc., p.364.)

As told by George Kunz and Charles Stevenson in "The Book of the Pearl".

Go to main famous pearls and collections after Pearls of Mary Stuart.


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