Q: Queen Cleopatra once made a very wild bet with Marc Antony: that she could spend more money on a single dinner than he could. At the meal, she had a single drink put in front of her; in it was a large pearl worth 10 million sesterces, which she swallowed. She won the bet!
Another woman, however, received a black pearl worth six million sesterces—also from a famous man. This was no tipsy giftover dinner, either. Who was the mystery woamn? And who was her generous boyfriend?
A: Although Julius Caesar had 3 wives and many lovers, the gal he most ardently loved was Servilia Caeponis, from one of Rome’s noblest families. They became lovers in 63 BC. Four years later, he paid a cool six million sesterces for a huge, lustrous black pearl for Servilia. (That’s the equivalent of 1,000 pounds of gold.)
Today, black pearls are back in fashion. Harvested mainly off the Tahitian islands, they can cost up to $22,000.