The Imperial Hong Kong Pearl or The Miracle of the Sea

The Imperial Hong Kong Pearl or The Miracle of the Sea

This very large 127.5 carat pearl is a silvery white Baroque pearl. In the Renaissance period, Baroque pearls were highly valued for their unique shapes, which highlighted their luster and colors.

The Imperial Hong Pearl was owned by the Chinese dowager Empress Tz'U-Hi, the widow of Emperor Xianfeng, who was the ruler of the Manchu Qing dynasty after her husband's death in 1861, until her death in 1908.

The Empress was well known for her love of pearls and was probably given to her by her husband, who had elevated her to the status of Noble Imperial Consort Yi, which meant that she was only second to Empress Consort Ci'an the principal wife of the Emperor. The Empress wore the pearl as a good luck amulet. When she died, her coffin was filled with pearls and gemstones and an enormous pearl was placed in her mouth to protect her body from decomposition, in keeping with Chinese customs.

In 1928, the Empress' tomb was ransacked by the Kuomintang soldiers. Jewels that were plundered during this period usually ended up in Hong Kong, being a colony of Britain and a free port. It eventually was bought by a United States Company, the Imperial Pearl Syndicate in the 40s. And today it remains a valued possession of the company.


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