18th-Century Spanish Gold & Garnet Earrings

Value (2007) | $8,000 Insurance$10,000 Insurance

The woman in the photograph is Lucrezia Bori, and my husband's great-aunt was her personal secretary for all of her career. Lucrezia Bori is from Spain, and she was the first female president of the Metropolitan Opera.


These were her earrings, and we have pictures of her wearing them in several operas. You can see here she's got the earrings in a shorter style, and then here in the much longer version as we see here on the table. What's interesting about these earrings is that the central parts are detachable. And so she could wear them in a variety of styles, depending on what her mood was. These are Spanish. And I know you said she was of Spanish descent, And so these were probably family pieces. These date from the 18th century. They were based on much earlier designs, and they continue to be redone and updated for each of the centuries. Both the 17th and 18th and even 19th century. But these are definitely an 18th century pair of earrings. They're made of gold and garnet, and if I turn them over, one thing to point out, the tops of these are not original. These are a later addition, probably for ease of wearing. But you can see there are these little tabs on the back that are used here to separate each of the corresponding segments for the earrings. And then the back has a little bit of an engraving, just to make them a little more interesting on the back as well when you're wearing them. The reason these were divided into sections weren't so much used for changing the design of the piece, but these earrings were quite heavy to wear all the time. And so when ladies were going to their event or evening out, when they were in their carriages, they would take the lower sections off, so that they weren't so heavy, and upon arrival to their destination, they would put the bottom sections back on just so to give their ears a little relief for the evening. They're in excellent condition. We don't see many of these, and I think the fact that you have the history, the photographs, the portraiture, et cetera, with these, I would say that you would probably want to insure these from anywhere between $8,000 and $10,000.

Phew! That's amazing. Wow. Thank you. Unbelievable.

Appraisal Details

Heritage Auctions
San Francisco, CA
Appraised value (2007)
$8,000 Insurance$10,000 Insurance
Baltimore, MD (June 16, 2007)

Executive producer Marsha Bemko shares her tips for getting the most out of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW.

Value can change: The value of an item is dependent upon many things, including the condition of the object itself, trends in the market for that kind of object, and the location where the item will be sold. These are just some of the reasons why the answer to the question "What's it worth?" is so often "It depends."

Note the date: Take note of the date the appraisal was recorded. This information appears in the upper left corner of the page, with the label "Appraised On." Values change over time according to market forces, so the current value of the item could be higher, lower, or the same as when our expert first appraised it.

Context is key: Listen carefully. Most of our experts will give appraisal values in context. For example, you'll often hear them say what an item is worth "at auction," or "retail," or "for insurance purposes" (replacement value). Retail prices are different from wholesale prices. Often an auctioneer will talk about what she knows best: the auction market. A shop owner will usually talk about what he knows best: the retail price he'd place on the object in his shop. And though there are no hard and fast rules, an object's auction price can often be half its retail value; yet for other objects, an auction price could be higher than retail. As a rule, however, retail and insurance/replacement values are about the same.

Verbal approximations: The values given by the experts on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW are considered "verbal approximations of value." Technically, an "appraisal" is a legal document, generally for insurance purposes, written by a qualified expert and paid for by the owner of the item. An appraisal usually involves an extensive amount of research to establish authenticity, provenance, composition, method of construction, and other important attributes of a particular object.

Opinion of value: As with all appraisals, the verbal approximations of value given at ROADSHOW events are our experts' opinions formed from their knowledge of antiques and collectibles, market trends, and other factors. Although our valuations are based on research and experience, opinions can, and sometimes do, vary among experts.

Appraiser affiliations: Finally, the affiliation of the appraiser may have changed since the appraisal was recorded. To see current contact information for an appraiser in the ROADSHOW Archive, click on the link below the appraiser's picture. Our Appraiser Index also contains a complete list of active ROADSHOW appraisers and their contact details and biographies.