Antique Jewelry Gold Diggers 12 - Cora Pearl - post 226
Gold Diggers courtesan jewelry of Cora Pearl
Cora pearl was the pseudonym of Eliza Crouch, born to a musical, but struggling family in England in 1835. Abandoned by her father, exiled due to her stepfather and then raped after her return to England, Cora became a woman determined to get what she could from men, but who felt absolutely no emotional regard for any of them. Realising the toll taken on the physical health of poor prostitutes, she determined to become a high level courtesan and with her stunning figure, soon attained that role in Paris. It was said that Cora Pearl loved money and diamonds alone.
Cora entertained lavishly. Her guests and protectors were the most powerful and aristocratic men of society during the time of Napoleon III, including the Emperor's half brother, the Duc de Morny and his cousin, Prince Napoleon, with whom she had the longest relationship in her career. Faithful to noone, Cora ruined many men, sucking up their fortunes and then spitting them out as soon as they had no more to offer.
She was the ultimate publicity hound - appearing semi-naked with only a few well-placed jewels adorning her superb figure at a fancy dress ball and even having herself served up naked on a platter at a dinner party. Maintained by her high-class, rich lovers, she became an excellent horse-woman and owned a great stable of horses for riding and to pull her exotically colored coaches. Color played a part in her appearance: she dyed her hair, dog and coaches to match. She was said to have been responsible for bringing makeup to Paris, wearing a little too much of it herself. Maintaining herself in the limelight seems to have been her particular talent. Her behaviour was wild and reckless.
Very little is known about her individual jewels. It is said that she owned a million Francs worth of jewelry, but what does this tell us?
Cora referred to her 'golden chain of lovers'. In her book on the French Courtesans, Joanna Richardson says this may be a literal reference to a huge gold chain necklace, hung with 12 exquisite lockets, representing her most illustrious patrons. She was described as looking like a jewelry shop in daylight.
Like many other courtesans, Cora Pearl appeared in the theatre. A story reports that she dropped 2 diamonds on the stage, not bothering to pick them up, but leaving them for her dresser to collect. The value of the stones was 2-years' salary for the dresser. An aristocratic gentleman offered an enormous sum for the boots she had appeared in. While the fortune offered was shocking, it takes into account that the buttons of said boots were huge diamonds of the finest quality.
When the boorish Russian Prince Demidoff slighted her pearl necklace, she threw it on the floor of the restaurant where they were dining. Valuable pearls scattered about and the wealthy, aristocratic fellow diners got on their hands and knees searching for the pearls.
During the Franco-Prussian war, Cora volunteered her home as a hospital and personally took care of many soldiers.
In the more austere era that followed, her star declined rapidly and it was not long before she was left close to destitute and died aged 51, of intestinal cancer, supposedly penniless and alone.