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The Three Precious Pearls

The Pearl of Lao-tzu

The Pearl of Lao-tze is the largest pearl in the world, though it is not a gem quality (nacreous) pearl and comes from a giant clam(Tridacna gigas). It was found by an anonymous Filipino diver off the island of Palawan in. In 1936, Wilbur Dowell Cobb received this pearl as a gift by a chieftain of Palawan for saving the life of his son.

Pearl of Asia

The Pearl of Asia was most likely harvested from the Persian Gulf in the late 16th or early 17th century. Shah Jahan, the ruler of the Mughal Empire from 1628 to 1658 and builder of the Taj Mahal, gave this pearl to his wife. Later it was among the treasures seized by the King of Persia, Nadir Shar after the besieged Delhi in 1739. Later, he gave it to the Chinese Emperor Qianlong who had it put in his tomb. Grave robbers stole it in 1900. Eventually, it surfaced in Hong Kong and was eventually sold in Paris. It currently resides in a private collection, but has been displayed at the Smithsonian.

The Pearl of Asia is roughly pear shaped and weighs 2,400 grains (600 carats).

The Hope pearl

Considered to be one of the largest saltwater pearls in existence, the Hope Pearl was first acquired by Henry Philip Hope in the 19th century. Hope was a banker and collector of gems whose collection contained nearly 150 natural pearls. He was also an owner of the Hope Diamond to which he also lent his name.

The pearl remained in the Hope collection at a South Kensington Museum for many years before it was sold at auction by Christie's in 1886. In 1913 it was appraised at $17,000. In 1974, it was offered for private sale for $200,000 and purchased by H.E. Mohammed Mahdi Al-Tajir. It has since been sold and is the property of a private collector. Though, it has also been reported to be on display at the British Museum of Natural History.

The Hope pearl is a white drop-shaped freshwater blister pearl of 1,800 grains (450 carats). It has a dark bronze coloration on the bottom.