Perhaps the most famous and celebrated single strand of natural pearls is the Duchess of Windsor/Kelly Klein pearl necklace. Gifted by Queen Mary to King Edward, later the Duke of Windsor, this necklace was sold in the historic “Duchess of Windsor” sale by Sotheby’s Geneva in 1987, and again in 2007 in Sotheby’s New York from the “Collection of Kelly and Calvin Klein”.


Above: The Duchess of Windsor/Kelly Klein Pearls
Below left: King George V and Queen Mary V&A images/Victoria and Albert Museum
Below Right: The Duke & Duchess of Windsor ©National Portrait Gallery, London


The Cowdray Pearl necklace is arguably the most important single strand of grey natural pearls to appear at auction. Fine grey pearls are extremely rare and seldom seen at auction.

Above left: Annie, 1st Viscountess Cowdray, Lady Pearson (1860-1932) wearing The Cowdray Pearls, Painted by Sir William Orpen R.A. RHA (1878-1931)
Above Right: Reproduction of catalogue page from 1937, Sotheby’s London


A most recent example is the single very fine grey Wrightsman Pearl Brooch from the “Collection of Mrs. Charles Wrightsman” sold by Sotheby’s New York in December 2012.

The Wrightsman Grey Natural Pearl Brooch