Lillian Nordica’s Yellow Pearl

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You may have read my previous post about Lillian Nordica, one of the first famous faces of Coca-Cola. She was incredibly fond of pearls and I love the story of her yellow pearl.


Lillian Nordica was the daughter of a Maine farmer who, almost from birth, had a beautiful singing voice. She was working as a shopgirl in Boston when she was “discovered.” She was singing behind the counter and her voice was so beautiful she was immediately recruited as an opera singer. She began singing formally in 1876 and was cast in La Traviata in Italy in 1879. Her opera career was an outstanding one and her voice was supposedly one of the most beautiful.

After three years of concert work supposedly Lillian Nordica began living in Paris. She approached a Paririsan jeweler to purchase a yellow pearl. This yellow pearl was most likely Lilian’s first pearl purchase. The jeweler told her the yellow pearl would bring her success and fame but also tears and domestic strife. The pearl would always long to be returned to its birthplace, the waters of Java.

Nordica yellow pearl by The Pearl Girls

I do not have an image of this famous pearl but, of interest, in 1905 she wired home that she was “completely broke.” I wonder if the yellow pearl did it?


Lillian went on to become a famous, world-renowned opera singer who never had children or had a successful marriage. In fact, she was in her third marriage by her death. Lillian was on a world tour when her steam ship, the Tasman wrecked near Thursday Island in Australia. She died five months later from pneumonia, at Batavia, now known as Jakarta, on the island of Java, Indonesia. Supposedly she changed her will on her deathbead so she was no longer leaving her fortune to her husband , but to her sisters instead. She had previously bailed her banker husband out of poor financial deals and she felt, “I am not forgetful of my husband, to whom I have advanced over $400,000 in cash, which I estimate as the full share of my estate to which he might be entitled.”

The yellow pearl has not been seen since Lilian’s death which leads me to believe that the yellow pearl did finally find its home back in Java.

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One Reply to “Lillian Nordica’s Yellow Pearl”

  1. That is so interesting. As a Georgia girl myself, I really enjoyed the information on Coke ads. Great blog, India. Keep them coming.

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