Lot 1796
  • 1796

Very Rare Natural Pearl, Diamond and Black Onyx Necklace

16,000,000 - 19,000,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • Natural Black Pearl, Diamond, Onyx
Composed of forty-one graduated natural grey pearls measuring approximately 14.85 to 5.85mm, alternating with faceted diamond beads and black onyx rondelles, completed by a marquise-shaped diamond clasp, the diamonds weighing approximately 11.00 carats in total, mounted in platinum, length approximately 690mm.

Catalogue Note

Accompanied by SSEF report numbered 87097, dated 3 August 2016, stating that forty-one pearls tested are natural saltwater pearls.  



Natural pearls are amongst the most prized of all gemstones. Since time immemorial, pearls have been considered symbols of power and status, due to their alluring beauty and rarity.

To properly appreciate the timeless beauty of pearls is to understand their serendipitous and natural creation. Unlike crystalline gemstones, pearls emerge as finished products, requiring no cutting or polishing to produce their lustre. Nature’s uncontrollable forces guarantee that each pearl is unique, a reflection of the condition under which it was born. Renowned for their iridescence, radiance and natural beauty, as pearls grow larger, more lustrous and more attractive in colour, their rarity and importance increase exponentially. Today, natural saltwater pearls are even rarer than in the past: as their original sources are nearly depleted, the market has to rely largely on examples harvested decades, even centuries ago.

Of all the pearls, natural black pearls are the rarest and have been the prized possession of the world’s royalty and nobility. Most black pearls are produced by the Pinctada Margaritifera oyster and the pearl’s colour has some affinity with the colour of the shell, relative to the position of the pearl in the oyster and to some extent to the quality of the water which the animal inhabits.

Early lovers of black pearls included Empress Catherine the Great of Russia, who reportedly owned a row of thirty black pearls, the largest weighing 78 grams. Empress Eugenie, Consort of Napoleon III Emperor of France, famous for her large collection of pearl jewels, owned a necklace of large dark grey pearls that was famously reported to have taken years to collect.

Another captivating and distinctive pearl necklace is the Three Strand Black Pearl Necklace which was owned by Anglo-Indian model and style icon, Nina Dyer, wife of Baron Heinrich Thyssen and later of Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan. Designed by Cartier, the triple-strand natural black pearl necklace is made up of one hundred and fifty-one spherical and near-spherical, perfectly matched natural black pearls.

The most recent coloured natural pearl necklace to appear on the market was that owned by the late Viscountess Cowdray, Lady Pearson. This legendary single strand of natural grey pearls, strung and mounted by Cartier, comprises forty-two exceptionally rare natural grey saltwater pearls well-matched in lustre, shape and size. The exceptional Cowdray pearls sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong for USD$5.3million in 2015, setting a world auction record for a natural grey pearl necklace.

Classic, timeless, and extremely chic, Sotheby’s is delighted to present this exquisite strand of natural black pearls at auction.