'The Pearls of the House of Orange', a natural pearl, sapphire and diamond necklace, 17th century and later
Composed of a strand of lightly graduated natural pearls, measuring from approximately 8.10 to 11.10mm, the clasp set with a cushion-shaped sapphire, framed with oval and circular-cut diamonds, length approximately 425mm.
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Accompanied by SSEF report no. 73602, stating that the forty pearls were found to be natural, saltwater, and that the sapphire on the clasp is of Ceylon origin, with no indications of heating.
By family tradition, the pearls from the necklace on the preceding page (lot 384) were assembled by the descendants of Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange (1584-1647). His wife, Princess Amalie zu Solms-Braunfels (1602-1675) was a passionate collector of paintings, works of art and jewels. The House of Orange’s relationship with the Dutch East India Company gave them access to Indian pearls of exceptional quality and size. In accordance with the Orange inheritance laws, Princess Amalie left her personal belongings to her four daughters. The enormous inheritance consisted of a treasure trove of paintings including works now in Berlin, Potsdam and Dessau museums as well as jewels and her much admired pearls. Two of the daughters, Princess Louise Henriette of Nassau (1627-1667) and Princess Henriette Catherine of Nassau (1637-1708) are recorded as having received ‘Oranische Perlen’ necklaces. The 1647 dowry inventory of Princess Louise Henriette, wife of the ‘Großen Kurfürst’ Friedrich Wilhelm von Brandenburg, lists a row of forty-five round pearls, valued at 240,000 guilders. Her sister, Princess Henriette Catherine, received a similar necklace in 1659 when she married John George II, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau. It is these pearls which were handed down within the family to the present owner and, which due to their great importance, were worn by the following generations when posing for state portraits. In the early 19th
century, Duchess Louise Henriette of Brandenburg-Schwedt (1750 to 1811) had an impressive diamond and sapphire double clasp added to the necklace following the announcement of Emperor Napoleon’s visit to Dessau. Part of the clasp was later removed and transformed into a ring, seen as lot 383.
The two items on the preceding page are considered by the family as the most important pieces of the crown jewels to have survived the Russian invasion of World War II.