Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Empress Eugenie Earrings, Legendary Jadeite Jewels & Medieval Jewelry Find

Extraordinary jadeite and diamond ring circa 1924 that sold for $2.3 Million dollars (pre auction estimates was $84,246 - $123,129)
 The provenance of jewels that go to the auction block at the worlds best auction house often tell the most interesting tales.  The Soong sisters were born in China and had lived very privileged lives. The three sisters thru their marriage were the founders of the Republic of China. These 3 sisters dominated the public arena with their marriages and the youngest being the first lady of China. The sisters' marriages and alleged motivations have been immortalized in the trope, "one loved money, one loved power, one loved China," referring to Ai-ling, May-ling and Ching-ling respectively. The reason I mention these powerful women is that their jewelry after being inherited by the last living heir Gregory Teh-chi K’ung, the only grandson of K’ung H.H. and Ai-ling was auctioned at Christies on June 2nd in Hong Kong.Gregory had been in talks with Christies for a while prior to the auction . the items from the Soong sisters number 46 out of the close to a thousand lots offered up for sale. The auction netted $118 Million Dollars and is the most valuable jewelry auction ever held in Asia.

A small sampling of some of the sisters jadeite jewelry

A rare picture of the sisters together
These women were groundbreaking for that generation. ma ling came to the US in 1914 as a 14 year old to go to Wesleyn College. It was rare for a woman to be college educated, and she was the first Asian woman to get  her degree from Wesleyn.  Other items from the sisters remarkable jewelry collection have been auctioned at Bonhams and Sothebys. they lived an incredible life of wealth and privileged and had access to some of the best jewels in the world.


 A woman who was known to the world as a very stylish women wearing the latest fashions and bedecked in incredible Royal jewels. She was a Royal trendsetter, before any other. Empress Eugenie was her name and she was Napoleon IIIs second wife.When they had both fled France and had settled in England, she was able to smuggle much of her jewelry with her.

Empress Eugenie brooch sold last year at Christies


Napoleon loved to spoil his newest wife, Empress Consort Euegenie after his previous wife was unable to produce an heir. He had many jewels created for her by the court jewelers. It is estimated that Napoleon had spent over 6.0 Million pounds When Napoleon III and his wife were in exile she had smuggled many of her gems out of the country. In 1873 the Royal jewels were auctioned at the Louvre over several days after the death of her husband and of her son. The sale of her favorite items were sold in private and helped fund her life in old age and also to fund the Imperial Crypt at Saint Michael’s Abbey in Farnborough were she is interred next to her husband.

The official Empress Eugenie portrait
 One of her most favorite pieces that had come from Catherine the Great (she wore it as a hair ornament)

At 51 carats it was an ideal cut diamond for its day, Empress Eugenie changed the name from Potomkin diamond to The Eugenie Diamond

A collection of some of her jewels have been auctioned in the last few years. The Eugenie diamond is still privately owned and was last seen in the Royal Jewels Exhibition in 1998.


Medieval jewelry are pieces that your normally would only see in museums. But at times certain items of jewelry can come into your path. Being in the jewelry business and also buying jewelry at times you can find incredible pieces. A jeweler in the UK had that experience when a person that had brought a pendant to sell for scrap.  When the jeweler had looked at the pendant he had said it was very valuable and dated from 1450 -1500. The owner of the pendant had purchased it 20 years earlier and because of that fact it falls under the 1996 Treasure Act. Making it available for private sale and purchased by the Buckinghamshire County Museum for $20,000 the institution received grants for the purchase.


 The jeweler thinks that it is a pendant from a pilgrimage made to Thomas Becketts tomb. Thomas Beckett was the archbishop of Canterbury and was murdered in 1170 ( a brutal beheading by sword due to an argument with King Henry II) . At that time souvenirs were sold at tombs. Its incredible to think that this piece of jewelry has withstood 600 some odd years.. it would be interesting to learn of the hands this passed thru~


 “Apart from the incredible level of skill of the craftsman who made it, it also tells us something about how important religion was to the lives of the people at that time,” said museum spokesperson Brett Thorn in an interview with the BBC. “To realize the fact that they would invest so much time and wealth in a tiny souvenir, which no one else would ever see, perhaps hoping for a miraculous cure, helps us understand them better.”

Older jewelry finds have been making their way into the news lately. A discovery of jewels that I had written was in 2013 called the Cheapside Hoard.  Even though the discovery of these jewels in 1912 then forgotten about for 110 years was from the 16th and 17th century. the more than 500 items of jewels have given us a new insight as to how jewelers created items in that century. There is an incredible video by GIA were you can see the mass of items that were discovered. The video gives you an idea of how exquisite items were found.
http://www.gia.edu/gems-gemology/FA13-cheapside-hoard-weldon

Amazing detailed gem necklaces, still trendy now!


Larger view of the hundreds of items found in the Cheapside Hoard

Thru ought the years discoveries of ancient jewels give us insight as to how people in that era adorned themselves and also the techniques on how the jewelry was created, along with the materials.  And its amazing that that a majority of the technique and styles that jewels are still using to this day!




Incredible Roman coins, love the intricate detail~

 Working with Roman coins and other historic coinage is a beautiful way to wear and embrace a reemerging trend.  Coins have been used in jewelry since coins have been used for currency. Either they were drilled for holes to wear as necklaces or else set into a ring setting.

Living in Florida for many years now there are famous wrecks that the world is aware of, and of course Mel Fisher who had discovered the famous Atocha De Senora wreck off of the coast of Key West.

                                                 Until next time, KEEP SPARKLING!

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