Lot 1870
  • 1870

A Highly Important, Rare and Superb Natural Pearl and Diamond Necklace, Cartier London; and Pair of Natural Pearl and Diamond Earclips, mounts by Cartier London

35,000,000 - 55,000,000 HKD
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • natural pearl, diamond, platinum, silver, gold
The necklace composed of forty-two graduated natural grey pearls measuring approximately 12.90 to 6.65mm, completed by a clasp set with a rectangular mixed-cut diamond, mounted in platinum, length approximately 435mm, with maker's mark JC; and pair of earrings, each set with a button-shaped natural grey pearl measuring approximately 11.52 - 12.42mm and 11.92 -12.13 x 10.15mm respectively, to a stylised surround set with single- and brilliant-cut diamonds, mounted in silver-topped gold and 8 karat yellow gold, signed Cartier London and numbered W12152.(2)


THE COWDRAY PEARLS Colour and Clarity: According to SSEF report, the pearls are natural, saltwater pearls, with no indications of treatment. Please refer to the report for details. In our opinion, the pearls on necklace are round to off-round to naked eyes, of medium grey colour with rosè and greenish overtone, good lustre with moderate surface blemishes but generally not noticeable in distant view and very common in natural pearls. Two pearls on earclips are of nice high-domed button-shape, face-up round, medium grey colour with rosè and greenish overtone, good to very good lustre. One pearl has minor surface blemishes, not noticeable in normal visual distance; another pearl has similar surface blemishes and growth marks close to the back, not seen in the obverse. The single diamond set on the necklace clasp is about F colour, VS2 clarity. Other tiny diamonds on earclips are about G to I colours, VS to SI clarity. Necklace clasp stamped "JC", the maker's mark; and ear clips signed Cartier London with number. Condition: By measurements, all forty-two natural pearls on necklace totaling approximately 1,050 to 1,100 chau; two button-pearls on ear clips weighing approximately 87 and 63 chau respectively. Vintage mounts, with signs of wear, otherwise both in very good condition.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. 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. Illustrations in the catalogue may not be actual size. Prospective purchasers are reminded that, unless the catalogue description specifically states that a stone is natural, we have assumed that some form of treatment may have been used and that such treatment may not be permanent. Our presale estimates reflect this assumption.

Catalogue Note

Formerly from the collection of Viscountess Cowdray, Lady Pearson (1860 - 1932), the Cowdray Pearl necklace comprising 42 pearls had been re-strung to 38 pearls. Two pearls from this strand after 1937 were mounted into a pair of earrings by Cartier, which remained with the Cowdray family. These and two other pearls originating from another antique jewel was recently re-strung back to its original number of 42 pearls - 'to make it a superb layout of historic pearls' (SSEF, 2013). The Cowdray Pearls first appeared at auction at Sotheby's London in 1937, with a catalogue note stating that 'there is probably no finer collection of such pearls in existence'.

As noted by Swiss Gemological Institute (SSEF), the Cowdray Pearls is an 'exceptional pearl necklace' that has been described to possess 'extraordinary characteristics and merit special mention and appreciation'. Their colour subtly varies in different shades of grey and brown, partly combined with highly attractive rosé, purple and green overtones, SSEF also notes that 'apart from its aesthetic beauty and rarity, this pearl necklace is also exceptional due to its documented historic provenance'.  

Accompanied by two SSEF reports numbered 67726 and 67685, dated 18 and 22 April 2013 respectively, stating that the pearls are natural saltwater pearls, with no indications of artificial colour modification.