Conch Pearl Brooch, ca. 1885

Value (2013) | $15,000 Auction$20,000 Auction
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GUEST:
This was my grandmother's, and it was given to me on my wedding day by my mom and my grandma.

APPRAISER:
Have you ever had it looked at?

GUEST:
No.

APPRAISER:
So, what can you tell me about what it's made out of?

GUEST:
Coral and diamonds.

APPRAISER:
Any idea of age?

GUEST:
I'm assuming it's Victorian, but I don't really know.

APPRAISER:
Well, good assumption. It is a Victorian brooch. It's made out of silver-topped gold and set with old mine-cut diamonds. It's a naturalistic form, which is showing me that it's from around 1880 to 1890. The jewelry from the period coming from some countries is marked. Now, I don't see any maker marks or country of origin assay marks on the piece, so I can't really say where it's from. And as far as the pink stones go, they're not coral, I'm sorry to say. But they're something much better than coral. They're conch pearls.

GUEST:
They're who?

APPRAISER:
Conch pearls. The conch pearl is a very rare item. It comes from the queen conch in the Caribbean. They occur in about one out of every thousand conch shells. And these are pretty large.

GUEST:
Oh, my God. My mom would always... "It's coral." I mean, it was just... I mean, I think I... Grandma told me it was coral. She didn't know... well, she must have. She must have known, but maybe she didn't.

APPRAISER:
She might not have. If it were coral, your brooch with these old mine-cut diamonds and the apparent age that it is would have a value in the range of $2,000 to $3,000, give or take. That's a fair auction estimate. But they're conch pearls. And it has a higher value. We were discussing at the table a value here because they're so rare. There is no price sheet for them, and each is an actual miracle of nature. Conch, which are mostly harvested as a food source, are being overfished. They're facing controls from the CITES regulations. So, we know that this is old, and in context of the piece, these are all old and preexisting of the CITES regulations, but something to be aware of in the future. A fair auction estimate for this brooch we see to be in the range of $15,000 to $20,000.

GUEST:
(laughing) Oh, you're kidding me.

APPRAISER:
Yeah, no, I know. It's good and old.

GUEST:
Oh, my God!

APPRAISER:
And it's beautiful.

GUEST:
You're kidding me. (laughing) Oh, my gosh!

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Rago Arts & Auction Center
Lambertville, NJ
Appraised value (2013)
$15,000 Auction$20,000 Auction
Event
Anaheim, CA (June 22, 2013)
Form
Brooch

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