Mexico City Pearl Collection

Was the Mexico City Pearl Collection a part of Empress Carlotta's marriage portion?

A collection of pearls had been kept for many years in the Monte de Piedad of Mexico City, which it was claimed had been pawned by a friend of the Empress Carlotta, in order to provide her with money, at the time of the assassination of Emperor Maximilian.

These pearls were contained in a necklace and a pearl and diamond tiara, which were sewn upon cardboard with black velvet, and had the appearance of not having been disturbed for many years. The necklace consisted of old pearls, both of the so-called Madras and Panama varieties; in the center was a large diamond medallion from which pear-shaped pearls were suspended.

It is believed that these pearls were part of Empress Carlotta's marriage portion, and that they came from the Austrian crown jewel collection. None of them possessed much quality with the exception of one, a large pear-shaped pearl which was set at the base of the necklace and weighed eighty-four grains.

The drilling of this pearl was of a very old style, being of that type in which a tube is inserted in the drill hole, through which a gold wire passes to hold the pearl; a diamond is then set at the base of the tube to disguise the drill mark. It is, however, possible that the pearl came from the East Indies, where large drill holes are usual.

The pearls were sent in bond to the United States as a collection, and then to Europe, where they were sold separately, the pear-shaped pearl appearing again in the New York market in 1906.

There has been some doubt as to these really being Carlotta's pearls, but the Mexican account is fairly consistent, and it satisfactorily disposes of the newspaper romance in which it was claimed that Carlotta had taken these pearls with her to Europe and that they had been buried in a casket in the Adriatic Sea.

Information on the
Information on the Mexico City Pearl Collection as recorded in 1908 by Kunz and Stevenson in "The Book of the Pearl".

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