April 27, 2021


By Francisco Javier Fernandez Sanchez
FAMOUS PEARLS | The South Sea Pearl

The Medici or Hanover Pearls
Queen Elizabeth II uses these pearls (bottom row) on very special occasions and considers them more important than the rest of the Crown Jewels. It is not only because these are the remaining of a nearly 500 year-old pearl collection but because of their strong historical significance: wedding present of Pope Clement VII to his niece Catherine de Medici with Henri II of France, in 1533, originally composed of six long ropes of pearls, including large pear drops. Most of them were handed over to Mary Queen of Scots when she married Catherine’s son and eventually became property of Elizabeth I, here on the iconic Armada Portrait currently on display in the Queen’s House, Greenwich: a protestant queen wearing pearls from a catholic pope.
After being kept by European royalty and in much reduced number, the pearls become a Queen Victoria’s favourite who refused to return the "Hanover Pearls" to Germany in 1837, listing them as property of the Royal Treasury. The remaining large drops of the Medici pearls can still be seen in the Imperial State Crown in rose-diamond caps. Photos © Chris Jackson/WPA Pool/Getty Images; © The Royal Collection . Source Rui Galopim de Carvalho


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