Austrian Silver-Gilt and Jadeite Box, ca. 1920
Appraised Value: $2,000 - $3,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (2:00)
Decorative Arts, Furniture, Silver
Vice President & Generalist Appraiser, European Furniture
GUEST: It was one of my mother's favorite boxes, which she hid away most of the time. And I love the color of it. I was just curious to know what the stone is. Her favorite color was green, so she was tempted to buy anything green.
APPRAISER: It's made of something called jadeite.
APPRAISER: And on the inside... you know where the little marks are, right?
GUEST: They're right here on the lip.
APPRAISER: And those two little specks show us two things. One is the country where it's from and the other are the maker's initials. One of the marks for the country also tells us what it's made out of. And although this looks like it's gold, it's actually gold on top of silver.
GUEST: Oh, all right.
APPRAISER: Which is often... you might hear it called vermeil or silver gilt. And so this is actually made in Austria.
GUEST: Oh, really?
APPRAISER: Yeah. Austria-Hungary.
GUEST: Oh, okay.
APPRAISER: And the other mark, which are initials, which look like an A and a K, are the maker's marks. The jadeite would come from a mine. The jeweler, or the workshop, would order the jadeite and they would get the panels and then their workmen would cast and chase the fittings that went around it. And most of the jadeite that the Austro-Hungarians used comes from one mine, which is called Idar-Oberstein. This box is from about the 1920s, and that little green stone, what do you think it is?
GUEST: She told me it was an emerald.
APPRAISER: It is.
APPRAISER: So you've got an emerald onto nice silver gilt. And one of the things I like about these boxes, it's copying boxes that have been really popular for a long time. Jadeite was popular in Russia; you see boxes from other countries just because it's a lovely, rich modeled stone. It just captures the light and sort of the speckliness. Probably, I would think at auction, you would expect easily to fetch between $2,000 and $3,000.
GUEST: Wow, that's great. My father was from Austria. That means a lot to me. Thank you.
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