Best of Birthstones: Pristine Pearls

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Pearls have always exerted a powerful allure. In ancient times, the Greeks believed that pearls were the tears shed by Aphrodite, goddess of love, and the Chinese thought the gem protected the wearer from harm. As evidenced in portraits of Queen Elizabeth I and members of the English court, the Tudors prized these lustrous gems so much that the 16th century came to be known as the Pearl Age. In the modern era, pearls have retained their status, worn by legendary beauties and style icons such as Audrey Hepburn and Coco Chanel. Unlike diamonds, natural pearls emerge fully formed, and the finest are lustrously silky and perfectly round, which makes finding a match an incredible feat. Pearls also vary in shape, size and colour, ranging from a more common cream or pink to rarer shades of black, green, blue and gold. Click ahead for an array of pearl jewels coming to auction, plus one record-setting past lot. –Stephanie Sporn

Summer Jewels Online
30 May–13 June

Fine Jewels
7 June | London

Jewels Online

30 June–14 July

Best of Birthstones: Pristine Pearls

  • The Cowdray Pearls, 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. Sold for HK$41,080,000 ($5,300,552).
    Formerly from the collection of Viscountess Cowdray, Lady Pearson, the Cowdray Pearls set a world auction record for a natural grey pearl necklace when selling in October 2015. The Cowdray Pearls first appeared at auction at Sotheby's London in 1937, with a catalogue note stating “there is probably no finer collection of such pearls in existence.”


  • Sodalite, lapis lazuli and seed pearl sautoir. Starting bid £1,200 ($1,539). To be offered in Summertime Jewels Online from 30 May to 13 June.
    In this dazzling necklace, a carved sodalite is at the centre of five strands of seed pearls, gathered at each side with lapis lazuli spacers. 

  • Pair of amethyst, cultured pearl and diamond earclips, Tony Duquette. Estimate $7,000–9,000. To be offered in Jewels Online from 30 June to 14 July.
    These earclips perfectly embody the style of their creator, Tony Duquette, a maximalist whose jewels are distinguished by vivid and unexpected colour combinations 

  • Diamond and cultured pearl necklace, ‘Agrafe’, Cartier. Estimate £7,000–9,000 ($8,975–11,540). To be offered in Fine Jewels on 7 June in London.
    The central element of this pearl and diamond necklace is designed as a buckle suspending a detachable pendant. 

  • Pair of natural pearl and diamond earrings, circa 1920. Estimate £20,000–30,000 ($25,644–38,466). To be offered in Fine Jewels on 7 June in London.
    Each earring is set with a drop-shaped natural pearl and rose diamonds. 

  • Pair of mabé pearl earclips. Starting bid £300 ($385). To be offered in Summertime Jewels Online from 30 May to 13 June.
    Of roundel design, these earclips are collet-set with a concentric arrangement of mabé pearls. 

  • Cultured pearl and diamond ring. Estimate £4,800–7,500 ($6,155–9,617). To be offered in Fine Jewels on 7 June in London.
    Brilliant cut-diamonds of pink and near colourless tint complement a cultured pearl in this concave design.