This splendid necklace is a wonderful combination of Carvin French's design acumen and superb gemstones. Black pearls of superior quality are considerably rarer than their whitish coloured counterparts. To put together a well-matched strand, such as the present example, takes years. Black pearls were first brought into high fashion by Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III. Winterhalter painted a wonderful picture of her wearing her well-known strand. Princess Mathilde Bonaparte, a cousin of Napoleon, was also known to have a magnificent collection of black and grey pearls which was, according to Bernard Morel in his book "Les Joyaux de la Couronne de France", "unique in the world".