Antique Jewelry & Gemology
Photos courtesy Eldred’s
Eldred’s Auctioneers of East Dennis, on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, held its antiques and accessories sale on January 19 and 20, offering 152 lots of jewelry that achieved good results and had “a very low pass rate,” according to Leah Kingman, the specialist who cataloged most of the jewelry and timepieces in the sale. She is Eldred’s 20th-century design and European decorative arts specialist and also works with silver and jewelry. “Everyone here wears a lot of hats.” She said jewelry and silver are the categories she’s “personally the most interested in.”
Three of Eldred’s auctions each year feature “fifty to seventy-five lots of jewelry at a given time. We did have more, volume-wise than is typical” in the January sale, Kingman said. She added that although Eldred’s presently doesn’t have “dedicated, jewelry-only sales, it is definitely a department we’re trying to grow.” Eldred’s contracts with a local gemologist when something is beyond the scope of Kingman’s knowledge. “The circumstances where we need a gemologist are kind of few and far between. So I meet with the majority of the consignors, take the pieces in, and catalog them.”
Approximately half of the charms in this vintage 14k gold 7" long charm bracelet are also 14k gold. Kingman said it was probably from the 1960s. It sold in the room for $1680 (est. $500/$700).
Kingman said there was a lot of interest in this late 19th-century unmarked 6" long Victorian gold and turquoise bracelet that sold for $720 (est. $300/500). “That might be the piece in the sale that I saw people trying on the most.”
Kingman said there was particular interest in a late 19th-century Victorian gold and turquoise bracelet that sold with buyer’s premium for $720 (est. $300/500). It was the piece of jewelry that was tried on the most. “There was a good turnout for the preview and a lot of bidding from the room. The Internet turnout is also really strong these days.” She estimated that about 35% or 40% of the jewelry sold to online buyers. Kingman explained that online buying is “typical for small items that are easy to ship. And actually, in some departments, it’s much higher.” In Eldred’s Asian art auctions, for example, “the Internet buying number is much higher than that.”
The top lot of the jewelry and timepieces section of the Eldred’s sale was this circa 1830 gold repeater pocket watch marked for Breguet. It sold together with a gold-filled key fob and stand with glass dome for $3600 (est. $3500/5000).
These two early 20th-century unmarked amethyst necklaces sold together for $450 (est. $100/200). One has three faceted teardrops suspended from seed pearls and is on a 15¼" long silver-tone chain; the other has three faceted and graduated hearts suspended from a 14½" long gold-filled chain.
A consignment of mostly contemporary pieces “that had either been retailed at local jewelry stores or made by local jewelers were definitely popular with the crowd and our local audience.” Examples were a pair of Chatham Jewelers 18k gold earrings in a geometric design that brought $1140 (est. $300/500); an 18k gold, diamond, opal, and mabe pearl pendant on an Italian 14k gold necklace, retailed by Chatham Jewelers, that sold for $1920 (est. $3000/4000); and two pairs of gold earrings originally sold by Chatham Jewelers—one in 22k gold with beaded geometric designs on a satin-finish dome, the other in 14k gold and lapis lazuli with overlapping “V” designs—that together realized $600 (est. $200/400). Kingman said, “Chatham Jewelers is a very reputable, desirable jewelry store here on the Cape.”
This early 20th-century 14k gold and amethyst 48" long lorgnette chain with seven faceted stones was “a crowd favorite,” according to Kingman. “There was a good bit of interest online, prior to the sale, in terms of people who left absentee bids and were watching the lot. I think it ended up selling actually to a floor bidder, so there was some bidding going on in the room there too.” It was “really well crafted, well made,” and it sold for $840 (est. $150/250).
This unmarked late 19th-/early 20th-century Victorian gold, tourmaline, and pearl articulated pendant, 1½" long, is on a gold-filled chain and converts to a brooch. It came in the original case for jeweler Gibson & Co., Belfast, Ireland, and sold for $600 (est. $250/350).
Eldred’s offered many affordable pieces. Buying intricately made, one-of-a-kind antique jewelry doesn’t have to break the bank. It is possible to find at reasonable prices beautiful objects that are 100-plus years old and have remained intact. Kingman’s favorite lot brought under $100. It was a late 18th-/early 19th-century intaglio-cut carnelian pendant that sold together with a Chinese carved amethyst peach for $84 (est. $100/150).
The group lots appealed to dealers, and I assumed that the trade would have snatched them up. Kingman said, “Some of them, I know, definitely did go to dealers, but there were a few group lots—some of the Bakelite and celluloid, and actually I think that mourning jewelry lot—that did go to private collectors.” The group lot of 11 pieces of Victorian mourning jewelry sold for $390 (est. $200/300).
Many of the popular lots that sold above estimates featured amethysts. A late 19th-century Art Nouveau amethyst, diamond, and freshwater pearl necklace brought $390 (est. $200/300); two early 20th-century unmarked amethyst necklaces—one with three faceted and graduated hearts suspended from a gold-filled chain, the other with three faceted teardrops suspended from seed pearls on a silver-tone chain—sold together for $450 (est. $100/200); an early 20th-century Edwardian English 9k gold and amethyst pendant on a period unmarked 16" long chain with four seed pearls sold for $540 (est. $200/300); and an early 20th-century 14k gold and amethyst 48" long lorgnette chain with seven faceted stones sold for $840 (est. $150/250).
This late 19th-century amethyst, diamond, and freshwater pearl pendant in an Art Nouveau setting was converted from a brooch. The chain may be gold-filled. The 13½" long necklace brought $390 (est. $200/300).
This early 20th-century Edwardian English 9k gold and amethyst 2¾" long pendant, on a period unmarked 16" long chain with four seed pearls, sold for $540 (est. $200/300).
“We had a lot of nice amethysts in this sale, which coincided nicely with February.” Kingman’s colleague who is responsible for Eldred’s Instagram account had “set up a post about February birthstones and the amethysts we had in the sale,” and this probably helped generate competitive bidding.
Eldred’s June sale will also include jewelry. “We’re already starting to build that one. And I don’t know if there will be quite as many lots as there were in this one, but there will be kind of a critical mass.”
It is worth checking out the Eldred’s website (www.eldreds.com) well in advance of any auction. Kingman explained, “As things are cataloged at Eldred’s, they show up on our website. We don’t just wait and release the whole sale once it’s done. So you can keep checking in, and see the sale slowly build on the website.”
The top jewelry lot of the Eldred’s sale was this 8" long 14k gold bracelet with beaded links composed of three textured and interwoven rings and with a 1904 United States Liberty Head $20 gold coin having an elaborate filigree and rope-twist frame. It “wasn’t a full charm bracelet, but it was a gold charm bracelet with a really heavy coin mounted as a charm to it—so just a single charm.” It brought $2640 (est. $1500/2500).
A lot with six antique and vintage rings realized $570 (est. $200/400). Left to right: a gold-filled child’s ring; a gold and purple tourmaline ring with a cross-form hallmark; an unmarked gold ring with a hardstone cameo; an 18k white gold, diamond, and onyx ring; a 10k gold and onyx ring; and another gold-filled child’s ring.
Kingman’s personal favorite lot in the sale was this ½" long late 18th-/early 19th-century intaglio-cut carnelian pendant. One side is carved with the bust of a Roman warrior; the other is monogrammed. It sold together with a Chinese carved amethyst peach for $84 (est. $100/150).
This 2" long 14k gold, turquoise, and enamel brooch with hairwork (there is a heart-shaped compartment filled with woven hair on the reverse) brought $720 (est. $150/250).
Originally published in the March 2018 issue of Maine Antique Digest.