Last May, the auctioneers at Woolley and Wallis were astonished when a single 17.4mm natural pearl sold for $1.37 million, nearly seven times its pre-sale estimate. On April 14, Christie’s New York will be presenting an exceptionally rare four-strand necklace featuring 289 natural pearls. The auction house estimated the selling price to range from $3.8 million to $4.5 million, a bargain by comparison.
The natural saltwater pearls in the necklace range in size from 4.9mm to 12.65mm and vary in color from natural grey to brown, with attractive rosé, green or purple overtones and very fine iridescence. The four nested strands have 81, 76, 69 and 63 pearls, respectively.
The colorful pearl necklace featured at Christie’s Magnificent Jewels sale is an extremely unusual offering. The auction house could cite only two similar lots over the past 50 years — The Nina Dyer Black Pearl Necklace, sold at Christie’s Geneva in May 1969, and more recently, The Cowdray Pearls sold at Christie’s London in June 2012.
Natural pearls are some of the most coveted of all gemstones because of their rarity. Natural pearls are organic, created by a mollusk totally by chance and without human intervention. Cultured pearls, on the other hand, are grown under controlled conditions, where a bead is implanted in the body of the mollusk to stimulate the secretion of nacre.
In addition to the natural pearls, Christie’s April 14 auction will offer more than 300 jewels, including these noteworthy lots…
• Fancy intense purplish-pink diamond ring. This platinum ring is set with a cut-cornered rectangular-cut fancy intense purplish-pink diamond weighing approximately 5.29 carats and flanked on either side by half moon-cut diamonds. The natural colored diamond has a VS2 clarity.
Diamonds of this color and clarity constitute less than 0.1% of all naturally occurring diamonds. The ring carries an estimated price of $3.5 million to $5 million.
• Cushion-cut diamond ring of 80.73 carats. Also expected to yield up to $5 million is this impressive diamond ring, featuring a K-color, VS2 clarity diamond with excellent polish and symmetry. The diamond is set in platinum.
• Millicent Rogers ruby heart brooch by Paul Flato. As the original “Jeweler to the Stars” back in the 1930s, Flato designed whimsical pieces that reflected his great sense of humor. The puffy ruby heart brooch, above, was designed for the Standard Oil heiress, a woman of high fashion who was routinely on the International Best Dressed list.
Flato used rubies, sapphires and colored diamonds in a design featuring a heart pierced by an 18-karat gold arrow and draped with a blue ribbon with the words “Verbum Carro” (“A word to my dear one”). The brooch has a pre-sale estimate of $350,000 to $500,000.
Photos via Christie's.