An Entire Book Has Been Written about La Pellegrina Pearl

La Pellegrina pearl, formerly owned by Princess Youssoupof.

For nearly a century there has been in Russia one of the most lovely pearls in the world; this is La Pellegrina Pearl, formerly owned by the Zozima brothers of Moscow, who were antiquarians of note in St. Petersburg. In 1818 a small book of forty-eight pages was written about this beautiful gem by G.Fisher de Waldheim, vice-president of the Imperial Medico-Chirurgical Academy, probably the only book ever devoted to a single pearl. According to this writer, La Pellegrina pearl was purchased at Leghorn by one of the Zozima brothers from an English admiral who had just returned from India. It combines all the requisites of perfection: it is absolutely spherical and has never been pierced; its luster, its silvery sheen make it appear almost transparent, and for a pearl of this high grade, it is of remarkable size, weighing 111 1/2 grains.

The Zozima brothers retained it in a sea urchin shell mounted in gold and with a convex lens as cover; this was contained in a silver box, and this in turn in another box studded with gems. Although the lens enlarged the appearance of the pearl, it detracted from its beautiful form, giving it an oval shape. But when removed from the triple enclosure, it rolled about like a globule of quicksilver, and surpassed that metal in whiteness and brilliancy.

Everything that is beautiful and perfect takes such possession of the beholder that words become insufficient to express his feelings; and that is what happened to me in the case of La Pellegrina pearl of Zozima. One must have seen an object of this kind in order to appreciate the impression it makes. AS an evidence of this, I shall note the last visit which I made to the owner in company with several distinguished persons.

After having examined many curious medals and coins, and also some pearls which exceeded in size the one of which I treat, and after they had received their due meed of admiration, La Pellegrina Pearl appeared, rolled upon a sheet of paper by the owner's little finger. Attention and admiration was depicted on every face; a perfect silence reigned. It was only when the pearl had been removed very carefully lest it should slip away, and was again triply enclosed, that we recovered the power of speech and could unanimously express our admiration. (De Waldheim, "Essai sur la Pellegrina," p. 48.)

As it had been stated that this pearl was in the possession of the Princess Youssoupof, Mr. Henry w. Hiller of New York, who was in St. Petersburg, courteously made inquiries and was successful in obtaining a view of the two splendid pear-shaped pearls. These are almost exactly alike, but neither of them can well be La Pellegrina Pearl, since this is a round pearl; possibly the one on the right may be La Peregrina.

The owner of La Pellegrina Pearl in 1818, Z. P. Zozima, died in Moscow at a great age, in 1827. He was a Greek dealer in curiosities and gems, who had resided in Moscow for a long time, and had many clients among the nobility of Russia. It is stated that a few months before his death the best pieces of his collection, including La Pellegrina pearl, were stolen from him by a compatriot.

La Pellegrina as recorded by Kunz and Stevenson in "The Book of the Pearl".

Go to Main Famous Pearls and Collections after La Pellegrina Pearl.

Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.