NATURAL PEARLS – Bidding frenzy for necklace featuring natural pearls underscores their rarity and desirability to collectors

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By David Brough

GENEVA – A necklace incorporating finely graduated natural pearls elicited a bidding frenzy culminating in a hammer price of 830,000 Swiss francs at the May 16 Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels sale, underscoring their extreme rarity and investment potential.

At the auction, the necklace garnered around four times its estimate of 185,000-275,000 Swiss francs after an intense round of bidding.

NATURAL PEARLS – Bidding frenzy for necklace featuring natural pearls underscores their rarity and desirability to collectors

Picture taken by David Brough during a viewing at Sotheby’s Geneva on May 16, 2023. Courtesy of Sotheby’s

Composed of two rows of graduated round to roundish natural pearls measuring from approximately 5.85 to 10.85mm, the necklace’s clasp is set with step-, circular-cut and baguette diamonds.

The necklace is accompanied by SSEF report no. 126732, stating that its 110 pearls were found to be natural, and saltwater.

The report comes with an appendix letter.

“The described pearls are beautifully matching in shape, colour and size and are characterised by a very fine pearl lustre,” the letter said.

“A matching selection of natural pearls of this size and quality can be considered rare and exceptional.”

The natural necklace most likely attracted bids largely from private collectors who understand the extraordinary rarity of natural pearls, which are fished by divers from oyster beds in certain locations in the ocean.

Natural pearls, which have a premium price compared to cultured or farmed pearls due to their rarity, can come in all shapes, sizes, colours and degrees of luster.

The most revered in the marketplace tend to be perfectly round and white, while other pearls can show hues of pink or green or brown or yellow.

Merchants can spend decades gathering strings of natural pearls into a magnificent necklace as the gems are carefully graduated in size, shape, colour and luster to create a rare and beautiful piece of jewellery.

(Disclaimer: any opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be construed as investment advice.)