Shreve & Company Opal Brooch, ca. 1910

Value (2007) | $15,000 Auction$20,000 Auction

GUEST:
My husband-- this was his mother's brooch. She never spoke about it, and... when she was getting sick, she mentioned to my husband that he should give it to me when something happens. And so that's all I know about it.

APPRAISER:
Had you ever had the brooch appraised or had anybody talked to you about the brooch at all?

GUEST:
I brought it with me one time when I was having a ring repaired, and the gentleman there said that he thought it was a black opal, but he wasn't sure and he couldn't give me no sense of value or anything on it.

APPRAISER:
Well, he was correct. What we have here is a black opal, diamond, and demantoid garnet brooch. Now, based on the stones that are in the item and the design, I would date this around 1910.

GUEST:
Oh.

APPRAISER:
Now, the center stone here is the black opal. The reason these are called black opals is because they have a very dark, contrasting background.

GUEST:
Uh-huh.

APPRAISER:
And... if we looked at the back of the piece, we would see that the background material is a very dark gray color...

GUEST:
Uh-huh.

APPRAISER:
…whereas in the front, you get this large array of multicolor. Big and natural matrix.

GUEST:
Is it?

APPRAISER:
And these green stones here are the demantoid garnets. It's a very rare form of garnet that-- most garnets are red, but these are green.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
And what they were obviously doing was using the green material to pick up the green in the opal.

GUEST:
I see.

APPRAISER:
Black opals are known for their what we call "fiery" quality...

GUEST:
Uh-huh.

APPRAISER:
...meaning that there's lots of color that is in the stone. This stone is exceptional because it has all the combinations of color. It has yellow; it has orange; it has green; it has blue.

GUEST:
Uh-huh.

APPRAISER:
But most importantly, it has red, and red is the one color that really makes this whole stone not only pop color-wise but in terms of what a connoisseur of opals would look at and judge...

GUEST:
Uh-huh.

APPRAISER:
...is that this is really an exceptional stone. The brooch is also set with round old European-cut diamonds, and there's an approximate total weight of three carats worth of diamonds in the brooch.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
The other nice thing is that it's a very simple design. It's very streamlined, and also it's very typical of this time period. The other part of the brooch that is also unique-- on the back of the brooch, it says "Shreve." Now, Shreve is a very well-known jeweler in the San Francisco Bay area.

GUEST:
Oh.

APPRAISER:
It was established in the late 19th century.

GUEST:
Uh-huh.

APPRAISER:
And so what we have here-- the combination of a number of factors-- a Shreve & Co. black opal and demantoid brooch from the 1900s. I would say at auction, this would bring anywhere between $15,000 and $20,000.

GUEST (quietly): Wow. (laughing) Wow. Ooh, that's quite a bit.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Peter Jon Shemonsky Fine & Antique Jewelry
San Francisco, CA
Appraised value (2007)
$15,000 Auction$20,000 Auction
Event
Las Vegas, NV (August 18, 2007)
Period
20th Century
Form
Brooch
Material
Diamonds, Opal

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