Historical Glass Diamonds Specimen Set, ca. 1910

Value (2010) | $6,000 Auction$12,000 Auction

On the Roadshow, we always like things that come in interesting boxes. Your particular item here, it's embossed on the front cover. It says "historical diamonds." So I was hoping it was filled with diamonds.

(chuckling): The real thing.

The real thing. Inside the box here are examples that are made out of glass of some of the world's most famous historical diamonds that were known up till about the early 1900s. And so we have the Koh-i-Noor, the Sancy, and the blue one here, this is the Hope Diamond, and this is the one that I was hoping was real. (chuckling) But these are all glass examples. Now, you are also fortunate enough to have here a letter which describes all of the stones in detail and their history. These sets were very popular in the late 19th century, early 20th century, and in reading the documentation, the last reference is about 1905 in terms of the history of the diamonds that they're speaking of. So I gather that this set was probably made around 1910, 1915.

Oh, okay.

Now, normally when we see these collections, they don't come with the documentation, and normally there's a stone missing, because these were made and retailed mostly for jewelers so that they would show their clients a little bit of an educational side, what some of the important diamonds were. Also in the 19th century, some of the museums carried these as examples of stones in their collections, too, so if you went to a museum where one of these diamonds may have been, you could also buy the entire set.

Oh, really?

They were sort of novelty items, and a lot of jewelry stores had them in the 19th century. This particular set came from a dealer out of New York City. These were probably cut in Germany, in an area called Idar-Oberstein, which is known for gem cutting. And with these sets, in the last ten years there's been an increase in popularity for collectors. Can you tell me how you came about this set?

A friend of mine showed it to me 25 years ago, and when I moved back to Montana, he died, unfortunately, but it was willed to me. I was very surprised. And in that 25 years, I've looked for another one and I've never seen another one.

This set is complete, with documentation. At auction, a set like this would bring somewhere between $6,000 to $12,000.

Oh, my gosh.

And because your set is in good condition, probably the higher end of that figure.

Oh, my gosh. Thank you, Peter. I had no idea.

It's quite a bit of money for glass.

It is. That's amazing.

Yeah, yeah.

Appraisal Details

Heritage Auctions
San Francisco, CA
Appraised value (2010)
$6,000 Auction$12,000 Auction
Billings, MT (June 26, 2010)

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