Lot 384
  • 384

'The Pearls of the House of Orange', a natural pearl, sapphire and diamond necklace, 17th century and later

148,000 - 200,000 CHF
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  • natural pearl, sapphire, diamond, metal
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.


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.


Accompanied by SSEF report no. 73602, stating that the forty roundish to oval and button-shaped pearls, measuring approximately 8.30 - 8.85 - 11.10 - 8.55 - 8.10 mm, were found to be natural, saltwater. The same report also states that the sapphire, weighing approximately 8.8 carat and measuring approximately 13.10 x 11.80 x 6.00 mm, is of Ceylon origin, with no indication of heating. Sapphire of good transparency, medium saturation, minor inclusions visible under close inspection, some nicks and abrasions; for further information please refer to the report. Pearls of white body colour, partly with rosé and green overtones, good lustre, minor blemishes, some with hairline cracks and minor loss of nacre around them; for further information please refer to the report. Diamonds bright and lively. Clasp secure, safety catch next to it. Signs of normal wear to the metal, scratches consistent with use. In good condition. Gross weight approximately 54 grams. Please note that Sotheby's is not responsible for the accuracy of any estimated weights provided by gemmological certificates.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Please note that colour, clarity and weight of gemstones are statements of opinion only and not statements of fact by Sotheby's. We do not guarantee, and are not responsible for any certificate from a gemological laboratory that may accompany the property. We do not guarantee that watches are in working order. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue, in particular to the Notice regarding the treatment and condition of gemstones and to the Notice regarding import of Burmese jadeite and rubies into the US.