A magnificent and rare pearl and diamond drop, the pearl weighing 164 grains.
Formerly in the collection of HRH Princess Mary, the Princess Royal.
In early 2017 we were approached by a client asking to have a family sapphire and diamond ring re-sized. While the family were unaware of the significance of what they owned, its quality and colour prompted us to advise sending it to Switzerland for laboratory testing. Here our suspicion that the sapphire came from the now defunct mines of Kashmir were confirmed. Along with their rarity, Kashmir sapphires are prized for their remarkable velvety hue, traditionally described as ‘cornflower blue’. At over 14 carats, this was a particularly unusual and impressive example. Having been engaged to sell, a new home was found for overseas - happily returning a sum approaching twenty times the client’s existing insurance valuation in which its origin had been overlooked.
In 2002 we were asked by an English family to advise on the disposal of an exquisite emerald and diamond tiara (illustrated) which was made by the then French Crown jeweller s Evrard & Frederic Bapst in 1820 for the Duchesse d’Angouleme, daughter of Louis XVI. Following negotiations with the French National Museums, a sale was agreed for a sum considerably in excess of any previous valuation and the tiara is now one of the centrepieces of the French Crown Jewellery currently on show in the Louvre’s Apollo Gallery.
As a consequence of advertising the above sale, we were approached by a private European collector for our advice with regard to the magnificent emerald and diamond necklace with drop earrings en suite (as illustrated), commissioned by the Emperor Napoleon from the Maison Nitot in 1810 to celebrate his marriage to Marie-Louise of Austria, the Habsburg niece of Marie-Antoinette. Once again we were able to effect a sale to the Louvre of a really remarkable set of jewellery, set with probably the greatest range of old mine emeralds we have ever seen, in this case for a world record price for an item of historic jewellery to an institution, and the suite sits alongside the Bapst tiara in France’s national collection.
A request to review an important family collection held in a bank vault led to our request to unset and certify and major diamond that looked to weigh in excess of 15cts. Once seen in daylight out of its mount, the stone in question came to life and buoyed by the news that it surpassed the magic 20ct mark in weight, we sent it to the Gemological Institute of America in New York for colour and clarity grading. The stone was not only returned as D colour Flawless, but was given the ultimate accolade of a Golconda provenance. The legendary mines of Golconda in the southern state of Hyderabad can be considered the cradle of diamond history and travellers from Marco Polo to Tavernier have marvelled at the stones they produced. Renowned for their lustre, their limpid transparency and the charm of their slightly asymmetrical antique cutting, these rare diamonds are the most sought after in the market today, all the more so as the majority are re-cut to adhere to the demands of contemporary fashion. This particular example was sold to a private Middle Eastern collector.
Edward VII’s accession the British throne in 1901 marked the advent of the Belle Epoque or “beautiful era”, a time when elegance was valued above all else in fashion and jewellery and the moneyed classes indulged in magnificent pieces to express their wealth. As one of the pre-eminent jewellers of the period selling to the elites of Paris, New York and London, no firm came to epitomise more the craftsmanship of this period than Cartier. Their name is still considered the Rolls Royce of the industry and their craftsmanship and inventiveness was at its peak in the Art Deco years of 1920-1935. Discovering two classic examples of their jewellery in a Swiss bank in 2010 was a spine-tingling moment, and despite the fact that neither this fabulous diamond tassel brooch pendant nor the rectangular panel brooch – which had perhaps even been part of one magnificent design in the past – carried the Cartier signature, there was no doubt as to their origin. Having received an affidavit from the Cartier archive in Geneva, both were sold to the very first overseas collector we approached, a clear indicator of the passion that high quality pieces from the master craftsmen of this wonderful era still inspires.