Monday, January 21, 2008

Baroda Pearls

Christie's Magnificent Jeweles Auction on April 25, 2007

Reported by Gary Roskin, G.G. FGA

In a third case was a jaw-dropping diamond and pearl necklace created by the 100-yearl old Indian design firm Bhagat. Its center was an old-style-cut pearl-shape diamond weighing 13.31 cts., and it was accented by diamonds in rose cuts, briolettes, and faceted beads as well as a seed-pearl tassel.

The highlights were the Baroda Pearls-a suite of large natural pearls including a double-strand necklace, earrings, brooch, and ring-and a 22.66 ct. Kashmir sapphire.

The suite of natural pearls, once owned by the Indian Maharajas of Baroda, sold for $7,096,000. The centerpiece is a double-strand graduated pearl necklace strung by Cartier using 68 natural pearls from the Maharajas' colletion. The pearls measure from approximately 9.47 mm in the back to 16.04 mm at the center.

The $7 million hammer price is reportedly the largerst ever paid for a suite of natural pearls of the size and quality. The sizes of these oriental pearls were impressive, especially in the necklace's 16 mm center pearl. That pearl, an important piece in its own right, has a hammered appearance, as if the nacre had been worked by an oyster with bench training. Also noteworthy were the nace quality and luster of the earring drops.

Rarity was an important factor in the final sale. Many of the pearls were noticeably off-round, and all were more creamy than off-white. This is not unexpected for natural pearls, but the building up to the auction created an expectation of something even more impressive.

At the back of the necklace, Cartier added a platinum clasp with a substantial old-mine-cut round brilliant diamond weighing approximately 8.57 cts. Along with the necklace was a pair of ear pendants, so called because each earring highlighted a drop-shape natural pearl, each measuring approximately 13-15 mm wide by 22 mm long, enhanced by old-European-cut and old-mine-cut diamonds, with a button-pearl top, each measuring approximately 12.5 mm wide by 10 mm thick. A brooch set with an oval natural pearl, measuring 17 by 19 by 15 mm, and a natural button-pearl ring rounded out in the suite.

Originally printed in JCK July 2007 by Gary Roskin, G.G., FGA

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