The Allure of Pearls

March 18, 2005 – September 5, 2005

National Museum of Natural History
10th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC

2nd Floor, Geology, Gems, and Minerals Hall, Winston Gallery Floor Plan

On view in a case in the Winston Gallery are 12 extraordinary pearls that represent the breadth in color, shape, size, and luster of these natural gems:

  • the Hope Pearl, previously owned by Lord Henry Philip Hope, who gave his name to the Hope Diamond
  • La Peregrina, one of the largest pearls in the world, found in the 16th century off the coast of Panama and currently owned by Elizabeth Taylor
  • the Drexel Pearl, a large natural grey pearl from Polynesia in a Cartier setting from 1905
  • Black Beauty, an eggplant-colored natural black pearl from South America
  • the Pearl of Kuwait, a natural drop pearl from the Persian Gulf
  • the Queen Mary Brooch featuring two large natural pink conch pearls in a 100-year-old setting
  • South Sea Drops, two rare natural South Sea pearls
  • the Survival Pearl, reputed to be the world's largest pink snail pearl, a fresh water pearl found in the United States
  • the Pearl of Asia, reputed to be the largest natural pearl in the world and once owned by Shah Jahan (builder of the Taj Mahal)
  • the Paspaley Pearl, one of the largest cultured pearls in the world, on public display for the first time