The Cartier Necklace And Mrs Plant

In 1917 enthusiastic New-Yorkers gawped at a double string necklace of natural pearls valued at $1 million, and said to be the finest in the Western world, that were being exhibited by jeweller Pierre Cartier.

A natural pearl is a pearl that has been formed entirely accidentally and with no intervention from humans at all.

Falling in love with the necklace, entrepreneurial Maisie Plant offered Cartier a swap of her 52nd Street and Fifth Avenue townhouse for the item. For an additional $100 in cash, Cartier bought the landmark building that it still occupies today.

Two years later, Kokichi Mikimoto, an innovative entrepreneur from Japan that was widely credited with developing a patented method for producing the cultured pearl, launched his products onto the London market at a 25% discount to the price of natural pearls.

By the time Mrs Plant died in 1956 the Cartier necklace of pearls was auctioned off for just $150,000 as cheaper cultured pearls emerged and prices of natural pearls fell. In recent times, however, natural pearls have seen a resurgence of desirability, with the famed Baroda Pearls, a double strand of 68 natural pearls, being sold at auction at Christies in 2007 for a record $7.1 million.

All the pearls that Winterson sells are cultured pearls. We take very great care in selecting the best available for use in our jewellery.