Austrian Pearl Earrings & Emerald Ring

Value (2009) | $20,000 Auction$25,000 Auction

GUEST:
They both belonged to my father's mother, who lived in Austria. She was born in 1896 and unfortunately died very young at 38 years old. She was married to an American diplomat, my grandfather, and had, I think, a little bit sort of more elegant lifestyle because of that than many people at that time would have had. The earrings I inherited in the late 1990s. And, I mean, I like to imagine that they saw balls and heads of state and, um, but I really don't know much about their provenance. The ring was also my father's mother's. As I was growing up, it was in my mother's possession. I never saw her wear it. I used to admire it as a child. And a few years ago, she said if I wanted it, I could have it. And so I gratefully accepted her generous offer.

APPRASIER: Well, you've certainly ended up with some wonderful pieces of jewelry. When I was inspecting the jewelry, I was able to find some markings that indicate that, yes, both these items were from Austria. What we have here are a long pair of pendant earrings. They're set throughout with diamonds at the top, mounted in platinum. And then the bottoms here are these large, sort of pear-shaped pearls. The tops, the caps, are actually silver and set with small diamonds as well. And these are what are called natural pearls.

GUEST:
Oh, okay.

APPRAISER:
Pearls fall into two categories: either natural or cultured. Cultured means that man intervenes, inserts a bead into the oyster, and the oyster produces the pearl. A natural pearl means that man does not intervene.

GUEST:
Oh.

APPRAISER:
And an irritant of some sort enters the oyster and the oyster starts producing a covering on that irritant, producing a pearl. Now, to get pearls of this size is quite rare when it comes to natural pearls. So, what's unique about these is you have a pair of matched, natural, pear-shaped pearl pendants. Now, a lot of times people do bring two pieces of jewelry together at a later time.

GUEST:
Oh.

APPRASIER: And it's called a marriage.

GUEST:
Huh.

APPRASIER: And like all marriages, some are good and some are bad.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRASIER: Well, in this case, it's a marriage I think that works extremely well.

GUEST:
Oh, interesting.

APPRASIER: These bottom pearl pendants actually date from the late 19th century.

GUEST:
Oh, they do?

APPRASIER: The tops were created somewhere in the 1920s. So, during the flapper era, when women had short hair, very slinky outfits, these long earrings were very, very much in favor.

GUEST:
I see.

APPRAISER:
So, chances are, your grandmother, when she had these as just a plain pair of pearl drops, they were probably a little too short, so they were lengthened to create these beautiful Art Deco earrings. Beautiful ring, also late 19th century, probably 1890s, thereabouts. The ring is constructed from gold and silver and then set with an emerald and diamonds. It's really very typical design of Austrian craftsmanship of this period. Now, have you ever had these appraised?

GUEST:
When I inherited the earrings in the 1990s, I got them as part of a lot that included several other items. And the entire lot was valued at $1,500.

APPRAISER:
At $1,500?

GUEST:
Yeah.

APPRASIER: Even though there's been changes in the marketplace because of the current economic situation, these are worth a great deal more than the $1,500.

GUEST:
Oh, well, that's nice to hear.

APPRAISER:
A presale estimate at auction would be anywhere between $18,000 to $22,000.

GUEST:
Oh, my! Wow, that's very unexpected.

APPRAISER:
The ring here, which is also quite beautiful, an auction value on this would be somewhere between $2,000 and $3,000.

GUEST:
I see. Wow. Well, that's... that's great news. That was hard not to fall off my seat.

APPRASIER: Yeah, good, I'm glad you didn't.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Heritage Auctions
San Francisco, CA
Appraised value (2009)
$20,000 Auction$25,000 Auction
Event
Madison, WI (July 11, 2009)
Form
Ring, Earrings

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