Diamond Horseshoe Brooch, ca. 1900
My grandfather was an industrialist in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and he would purchase from auctions and different jewelers in the Pittsburgh area items from estates. So this pin has been in our family for three generations, and my grandmother used to wear it for fundraisers and different things in Pittsburgh. There was the Diamond Horseshoe Ball... And different things like that. But... this is the story behind it, that it was purchased from the Lillian Russell estate, who was a opera singer in the 1800s. Jim Brady had it made for her because they used to ride horses together.
Okay. GEUST: That's the story.
These things fall kind of into the category of family lore at a certain point. And unfortunately, while fascinating and potentially true, without real hard provenance, it doesn't really influence the value of the piece. You have a picture of your grandmother here, wearing it.
Wearing it, yes.
So the piece dates to the end of the 19th century, right around the turn of the century. It's a horseshoe. Horseshoes symbolize luck. The piece is not signed. That makes it more likely to be American-made. It's old European cut diamonds and platinum-topped 14-karat yellow gold. You can see here that it's yellow gold on the back, but on the front it's platinum. There are about 15 carats of old European cut diamonds in this piece. They are about as juicy and lively and beautiful as they can be. This horseshoe form we see really frequently, but generally quite small. This is a whole lot of good luck. (both laugh) It's about the biggest horseshoe brooch I've ever seen, and it's probably the prettiest one I've ever seen, as well. So do you have an idea when your grandfather would have purchased this in Pittsburgh?
It could have been the 1930s or maybe the '40s.
Do you have any idea what maybe he would have paid for it?
I did find a receipt that, um... I guess they had to have it appraised for the estate when they passed away. And so it did say $6,000.
It's just fantastic. If I were putting this into an auction, I think an auction estimate of $10,000 to $15,000 would be totally appropriate, and I feel it would likely perform at the high end or beyond its estimate.
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