Egyptian Revival Jewelry

Value (2014) | $86,500 Retail$102,000 Retail

HOST: In the heart of downtown Boise is a cherished landmark, the Egyptian Theatre. Founded in 1927 and restored in 1999, the building stands today as a notable symbol of an era fascinated with the treasure and lure of Ancient Egypt. Peter, here we are at the Egyptian Theatre. All kinds of great images here. It's the perfect place to talk about this Egyptian revival jewelry. Why was there such fascination in the 19th century and the turn of the 20th century with all things Egyptian?

Well, Mark, in the 19th century, Egypt was a major destination point, and with the building of the Suez Canal from 1859 to 1869, it was at the forefront of everybody's imagination in the period. It was in the newspapers all the time. So this was a constant source for designers in the 19th century. HOST: And you've brought some beautiful examples here, and let's start with this watch fob. Tell me about this.

Well, this piece is American. It's 14 karat gold. It's a carved Amazonite scarab. And the top part of it is composed of two pharaonic heads, which is a very typical symbol that you will find in Egyptian motifs. This is probably about 1880s, 1890s. In the retail market, this piece would be between $1,500 and $2,000. HOST: Now we have this beautiful set here, a brooch and two earrings. Tell me about this.

This piece was retailed by Tiffany and Company. It's in the original box. It's made out of carved black limestone. And this would date about 1890. HOST: Beautiful piece, and to find it in such great condition... What's the value of this?

The retail value on this would be between $10,000 and $15,000. HOST: Finally, this last piece you've selected, an Art Deco piece, also a brooch.

Yes, this is an Art Deco brooch, and this would date to the late 1920s. This is a quintessential Egyptian revival piece from that period. During the '20s, there was a renewed interest in Egyptian revival motifs, influenced by the finding of the tomb of King Tutankhamen in 1922. The brooch is made of platinum, it's set throughout with diamonds, and it's highlighted by calibre-cut emeralds, rubies and sapphires, and the central motif is that of Nekhbet, and she was the goddess of the Upper Kingdom. And although we don't know who this piece was made by, it's fairly clear that it was an American piece. HOST: Beautiful piece, and it seems like this could be something that someone might wear to the premiere of all those Egyptian-themed movies that were coming out at the time as well.

Exactly. This was probably the most influential time of Egyptian revival jewelry as jewelry, incorporating precious gemstones. The retail value on this piece would be between $75,000 and $85,000. HOST: My goodness. Well, it's wonderful to see these beautiful Egyptian revival pieces here in this theater. Thanks so much, Peter.

Thank you.

Appraisal Details

Heritage Auctions
San Francisco, CA
Appraised value (2014)
$86,500 Retail$102,000 Retail
Boise, ID (June 29, 2013)

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