En Tremblant Dragonfly Pin, ca. 1950
Appraised Value: $3,000 - $5,000 (1997)
$4,000 - $6,000 (2012)
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (3:21)
APPRAISER: How did you come by this jewel?
GUEST: My husband bought it for me in auction about 55 years ago.
APPRAISER: Do you remember how much he might have paid for it 55 years ago?
GUEST: I believe it was $500.
APPRAISER: Well, it's called a dragonfly pin, and it has another kind of name. It's called a tremblant. And the reason they call it that is because the wings of the dragonfly are assembled on springs that are hidden underneath and they were worn up on the shoulder. They would pin it right on the shoulder.
GUEST: That's exactly where I wore it.
APPRAISER: That's where you wore it. I know you bought dresses just the right color to match this jewel.
GUEST: That's right.
APPRAISER: And when you moved, these springs would simulate a dragonfly in flight. It was an ingenious construction. This is a noted art form. This is an Art Nouveau jewel. These were known from the turn of the century. The dragonfly was a very popular design and the enamel is a specific type of enamel that is called plique-à-jour enamel. That is enamel that is transparent like stained glass, and the light shines through it, in addition to which they've bordered the wings with rose-cut diamonds set into silver. And we have a blue stone at the top and a red stone with diamonds surrounding it and green eyes that are enameled. And the body of the piece is chased and engraved to simulate the texture of an insect's body. Now, ordinarily, we associate these jewels with Art Nouveau from the turn of the century. But we looked carefully at this jewel and we turned it over. If this was a 1900 jewel, there are things that we would look for in the construction, and one of the most obvious things we would look for was some kind of damage, some kind of telltale evidence that this was an extraordinarily delicate piece that had actually been around for almost a hundred years, even if 50 of them were spent in your jewel box. And we started to run into a problem looking at this piece because, in actuality, the condition was too good. The other thing that we found was that the blue stone at the top was glass and not a real sapphire. And the conclusion we came to was that it is a very, very good replica of an Art Nouveau plique-à-jour dragonfly with virtually the same craftsmanship but not done at the turn of the century, really done about the time that you bought it in the 1950s.
APPRAISER: Could you guess what this might be worth?
GUEST: I haven't any idea.
APPRAISER: Not a clue.
APPRAISER: Now, you bought it for $500. If it was a real one, it might be worth about $20,000, but even so, in gold and in diamonds, this magnificent plique-à-jour that's already 50 to 60 years old... I think this would still easily fetch about $3,000 to $5,000 as a copy. So you did pretty good for your $500.
GUEST: Well, I guess so, and I thank you very much.
This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2013 WGBH Educational Foundation.
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is a trademark of the BBC and is produced for PBS by WGBH under license from BBC Worldwide.
WGBH and PBS are not responsible for the content of websites linked to or from ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Online.
PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.