Natural Pearl Satchel, ca. 1915

Value (2012) | $6,000 Auction$8,000 Auction
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GUEST:
It was donated to my charity, which is a woman's boutique, maybe seven years ago. And I've taken it here and there to get some understanding of it. And what I know is it may be late 1800s. I don't know if it's jade, or if it's plastic, or Bakelite or something. And I'm assuming handmade little beads. And that's about it.

APPRAISER:
Well, it's a lovely purse, what we call a satchel. And it has a drawstring up here that is looped between these green rings, which correspond to the green beads and the bead here with the tassel part. Now, this piece would date about 1915. Although the piece doesn't have any hallmarkings or indication of where it was made, it most likely was made here in America.

GUEST:
Oh, really? And I'd always thought it would be French.

APPRAISER:
These are little flaps that hang down, these are kind of fun. The green material here, this is what we call green onyx.

GUEST:
Oh really?

APPRAISER:
It's made to look like jade, but it's green onyx. It's a natural stone that is dyed this color, and they've used it here in the bottom. Now the little edging here, these are actually diamonds.

GUEST:
Yay! Like to hear that, like to hear that.

APPRAISER:
You've got diamonds. And these are actually natural pearls.

GUEST:
No!

APPRAISER:
Yes. These were all hand-strung and individually sewn into the surface of the satchel. It's lined in kid glove leather. The tassel down here is also natural pearls.

GUEST:
Heart be still, heart be still.

APPRAISER:
And what has occurred in the last few years is that the price of natural pearls has escalated. So due to the interest in natural pearls, we're seeing a real spike in prices over the past five years. The other thing that's really nice about this piece is that it's in exceptionally fine condition.

GUEST:
How do you know all this? (laughing)

APPRAISER:
Well, it's from being in the business a long time. So do you have any sense of the value of the piece?

GUEST:
Not now. Before you started talking, I would have thought maybe $600, $400 to $600 or something.

APPRAISER:
Okay. Well, that's a nice place to start, but you're going to have to add another zero on that. This at auction would be somewhere between $6,000 and $8,000.

GUEST:
I always wondered if people were faking it when they were so speechless with the price, but now I know. Really?

APPRAISER:
Yes.

GUEST:
Oh, yes, yes.

APPRAISER:
And it's really because of the natural pearls. It's because the market on natural pearls has just exploded.

GUEST:
Thank you for the news.

APPRAISER:
Thank you, I'm glad you like the news! It's always good to get good news, isn't it?

GUEST:
Absolutely! What a treat.

APPRAISER:
Do not put it in a safety deposit box. The cases are made of steel, and it creates a weird atmosphere, and it's not good for these.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Peter Jon Shemonsky Fine & Antique Jewelry
San Francisco, California
Appraised value (2012)
$6,000 Auction$8,000 Auction
Event
Cincinnati, OH (July 21, 2012)
Period
20th Century
Form
Purse
Material
Leather, Onyx, Pearl
October 28, 2013: At the time this appraisal was recorded, the guest had been keeping her antique jewelry collection in a safe deposit box. Appraiser Peter Shemonsky advises, "Items containing natural pearls, cultured pearls and coral need special consideration if they are being stored in a safety deposit box. Due to the moisture and condensation that can occur, they should be wrapped in acid-free tissue paper or cotton. They should not be stored in plastic bags as this can also create condensation. It is also advisable to check these items on a regular basis to make sure they are not being affected by unwanted moisture."

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