NEW YORK CITY — On April 28, Doyle New York auctioned a pair of natural pearls that sold for $3,301,000, including the buyer’s premium to an anonymous telephone bidder. Setting a world auction record for a pair of pearls, the price broke the record for a pair of natural pearls by almost $900,000 — the last record was set in 2013 at Christie’s Geneva auction, when a pair sold for $2.44 million.
The drop-shaped pearls sold at Doyle New York measured approximately 9/10-inch in height and ½- inch wide, and were warm gray in color. They were mounted in antique silver and diamond caps, which were set onto a circa 1920 platinum and diamond pendant.
The pearls were accompanied by a handwritten note referring to them as having belonged to Empress Eugenie of France. In 1887, following the fall of Napoleon III and his wife, Empress Eugenie, a historic auction of the French crown jewels took place in the Louvre; it lasted 12 days.
The pearls then descended in the family of two prominent American industrialists: they were first purchased by George Crocker (1856–1909), the son of Charles Crocker, who founded the Central Pacific Railroad in California. The pearls were later owned by the descendants of Henry Huttleston Rogers (1840–1909) of Massachusetts, an American industrialist who made a fortune as a partner with John D. Rockefeller in Standard Oil and a founder of the Virginia Railway.
The pearls were accompanied by a report from the Swiss Gemmological Institute SSEF stating that the pearls were natural saltwater pearls with no indications of artificial color modification. The institute added a special statement describing the pearls in remarkably enthusiastic language, stating: “Assembling a matching pair of natural pearls of this size and quality is very rare and exceptional, and thus this pair of pearls can be considered a very exceptional treasure of nature.”
A full report on the auction will appear in a future issue. For information, 212-427-2730 or www.doylenewyork.com.