Natural Pearl and Diamond Necklace from the Collection of an Italian Noble Family

Join Us & WIN Govt. Certified Gemstone Regularly

Origin of Name

Sotheby's "Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels" sale held in Geneva, on May 11, 2010, featured several items of noble jewelry from the collections of many European noble families, which recorded significantly higher prices than the pre-sale estimated values. Among these items were several pieces of jewelry incorporating natural pearls which registered enhanced prices in keeping with the strong auction market for natural pearls with a historic provenance, which began at the turn of the new millennium. The natural pearl and diamond necklace featured on this webpage is one such piece from the collection of an Italian noble family which registered a record price of 362,500 CHF (US$314,000), much above the pre-sale estimate of 150,000 - 225,000 CHF (US$ 130,000-195,000).

Characteristics of the  Natural Pearl and Diamond Necklace

The necklace is a choker under the modern system of classifying pearl necklaces

The length of the necklace is approximately 415 mm, equivalent to 41.5 cm or 16 inches. According to the modern system of classifying pearl necklaces based on length, this necklace falls under the category of a choker whose range of length varies from 14 to 16 inches.

 

The weight of the necklace

The weight of the natural pearl and diamond necklace is given as 74 grams. This includes not only the weight of the pearls in the necklace, but also the weight of the diamonds and the metal used in the necklace.

 

Design features of the necklace

Design features of the main necklace

The necklace is designed as a single row of a graduated series of flower head clusters, with five fringes or pendants. There are two types of flower head clusters on the necklace, a smaller cluster made of diamonds only, with a single circular-cut diamond in the center, surrounded by 6 circular-cut diamonds of the same size; and a larger cluster with a single large spherical pearl in the center, surrounded by 12 smaller circular-cut diamonds. The circular cut diamonds in both clusters are graduated and appear to be of the same size. Likewise the natural spherical pearls used as the centerpiece of the larger clusters also appear to be of the same size, even though some of the pearls in the rear look somewhat smaller than the other pearls. The larger clusters and smaller clusters alternate in the necklace. There are 12 larger clusters and 12 smaller clusters in the necklace. Between two clusters a single small circular-cut diamond is placed. Thus, there are 24 such single diamonds  right round the necklace.

We can now make a computation of the number of pearls and diamonds in the main necklace :-

The number of pearls in the main necklace = 12

Number of diamonds in the 12 larger clusters = 12 x 12 = 144

Number of diamonds in the 12 smaller clusters = 12 x 7 = 84

Number of single diamonds right round the necklace = 24

Total number of diamonds in the main necklace = 144 + 84 + 24

                                                                = 252 diamonds

 

Natural Pearl and Diamond Necklace from the collection of an Italian Noble Family

Natural Pearl and Diamond Necklace from the collection of an Italian Noble Family

© Sotheby's

Design features of the five fringes or pendants

Five fringes or pendants are suspended from the median large cluster, and the two larger clusters on either side of it. The pendants are detachable from the main necklace, at the wearer's discretion. The central fringe or pendant is slightly different in design and longer than the other four pendants. It has a large drop-shaped pearl suspended by a bell-cap arrangement and surrounded by a single layer of 24 circular-cut diamonds. Three flower head clusters are also included in this fringe, one large cluster with a central spherical pearl and 14 circular-cut diamonds surrounding it, and two smaller clusters on either side of it, with a central circular-cut diamond, surrounded by 6 circular-cut diamonds. Four single circular-cut diamonds are situated between the clusters. Thus, the number of pearls in the central fringe are two, and the number of diamonds are equal to 24 + 7 + 14 + 7 + 4 = 56 diamonds.

The four fringes or pendants on either side of the central fringe have a similar design, with a drop-shaped pearl surrounded by 16 circular-cut diamonds, a single diamond flower head cluster with a central circular-cut diamond surrounded by six circular-cut diamonds, and two single circular-cut diamonds on either side of it. Thus, each of the four fringes on either side of the central fringe has a single pearl and a total of 16 + 7 + 2 = 25 diamonds.

We can now compute the total number of pearls and diamonds in the five fringes of the necklace.

The number of pearls in the five fringes = 2 + 4 = 6 pearls

The number of diamonds in the central fringe = 56

The total number of diamonds in the other four fringes = 25 x 4 = 100

Total number of diamonds in the five fringes = 56 + 100 = 156 diamonds.

Final computation of the number of pearls and diamonds in the main necklace and the fringes.

Number of pearls in the main necklace = 12

Number of pearls in the five fringes = 6

Total number of pearls in the entire necklace = 12 + 6 = 18 pearls

Number of diamonds in the main necklace = 252

Number of diamonds in the five fringes = 156

Total number of diamonds in the entire necklace = 252 + 156 = 408 diamonds

 

Some striking features of the natural pearl and diamond necklace

The most striking feature in this necklace is its perfect symmetry, a living testimony to the designing skills of the unknown 19th-century designer. The line of symmetry is the vertical line passing through the central long fringe or pendant. For every point or structure on the necklace on the left side of this line, there is an exactly similar point or structure on the right side of it. The similarity is not superficial, but accurate, extending to the number, size, shape etc of the diamonds and pearls. The other striking feature in the necklace, is the white on white scheme, making use of white pearls and white diamonds, probably mounted on silver or silver on gold metal, as platinum or white gold had not been introduced for jewelry designing, at the time the necklace was designed around the year 1890. The setting also appears to be invisible, a feature that was very common in the Edwardian period (1901-1920), that followed soon after the Victorian period.

 

History of the Natural Pearl and Diamond Necklace

The necklace originated around the year 1890 and belonged to an Italian noble family

Apart from the fact that the natural pearl and diamond necklace belonged to the collection of an unidentified Italian noble family,  and originating around the year 1890, nothing is known of the detailed historic provenance of the necklace. The period around 1890 roughly corresponds with the late-Victorian period in the United Kingdom and the Art Nouveau period  that originated in France. Thus, it appears that the necklace originated during the late-Victorian period, towards the end of the 19th-century.

 

The necklace is an antique Victorian-style diamond and pearl fringe necklace

The most striking feature in the necklace that confirms its Victorian origin are the presence of five pearl and diamond fringes. Such fringe necklaces were common during the late-Victorian period. Thus, this necklace can be characterized as a Victorian-style diamond and pearl fringe necklace. The metal used in such necklaces was usually silver-topped gold. Platinum became popular as a metal in jewelry setting only during the Edwardian period (1901-1920), that followed the late-Victorian period. White gold was introduced in jewelry crafting only after 1920 during the Art Deco period. Apart from diamond and pearls other gemstone used in Victorian fringe necklaces were garnets, turquoise, amethysts, opals, citrine, carnelian, corals etc.

 

Other lines of evidence that confirms the late-Victorian origin of the fringe necklace

There are other lines of evidence that confirm the Victorian origin of the fringe necklace. These are :-

1) The diamonds used in the necklace are all old circular-cut diamonds, which was common in the 19th-century.

2) The use of a naturalistic theme for the design of the necklace. Such naturalistic themes such as flowers, leaves, vines, garlands etc. were common during the Victorian period, and the Edwardian period that followed immediately.

3) The setting of diamonds on white metal which appears to be silver or silver backed by gold, in order to enhance the intrinsic beauty of the diamonds. The white on white settings subsequently became very popular during the Edwardian period, that introduced platinum as the white metal.

 

The Natural Pearl and Diamond Fringe Necklace records an enhanced price of 362,500 CHF at the auctions

The natural pearl and diamond necklace that appeared at the Sotheby's "Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels" sale, held in Geneva, on May 11, 2010, was allotted Lot No 376, and was one of two lots belonging to the collection of the same Italian noble family, the other lot being Lot 377. The Lot was titled as a "Diamond And Pearl Necklace, Circa 1890," and a presale estimate of 150,000-225,000 CHF (US$ 130,000-195,000) was placed on it. However, in keeping with the strong auction market for natural pearls of historic origins, the necklace registered an enhanced price of 362,500 CHF (US$ 314,000), which was 137,500 CHF more than the upper pre-sale estimate. The necklace was accompanied by a Swiss Gemstone Research Foundation (SSEF) Report No. 55827, stating that the 18 pearls in the necklace are all saltwater natural pearls.

 

You are welcome to discuss this post/related topics with Dr Shihaan and other experts from around the world in our FORUMS (forums.internetstones.com)

 

Related :-

Diamond and Pearl Necklace/Tiara belonging to an European Noble Family

 

External Links :-

1) Sotheby's Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels Sale, Geneva, May 11, 2010. Lot 376, Diamond And Pearl Necklace, Circa 1890. www.sothebys.com

 

References :-

1) Sotheby's Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels Sale, Geneva, May 11, 2010. Lot 376, Diamond And Pearl Necklace, Circa 1890. www.sothebys.com

2) History of Jewelry - The Victorian Era. www.khulsey.com

3) Victorian Jewelry - A Little Bit of Everything - Judith Anderson. www.jewelryexpert.com

 


24HRS FAX:
+1-281-754-4941

 

Dr Shihaan Larif
Founder Internet Stones.COM

 

 

Register in our Forums

 

Featured In

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

News

 

Blog & Education Feed

 

 

Articles Feed