A pearler of a price for ‘exceptional’ Paspaley necklace

Australian company joins a select group of European jewellery houses to record multi-million-dollar jewellery sales at auction.

By Steve Colquhoun 02/06/2017

A Paspaley South Sea Pearl pearl necklace has sold for an impressive $A2.8 million this week in an auction conducted by Christie’s of Hong Kong.

The necklace comprises 237 natural pearls strung on three graduated strands, in colours ranging from white to slightly cream. Rare rosé and green overtones are caused by an iridescence effect on the surface of pearls, adding to their value. A Christie’s spokesperson said the ensemble was regarded as “one of the finest natural pearl necklaces known”.

The Swiss Gemmological Institute in Geneva was also lavish in praise. “(It) possesses extraordinary characteristics and merits special mention and appreciation. Assembling a matching selection of natural pearls of this size and quality is very rare and exceptional.”

The necklace was one of the stars of the Christie’s Magnificent Jewels auction in Hong Kong and was knocked down for $HK16,140,000 (about $A2,814,000), which was more than $HK2 million ($A347,900) above the pre-sale high estimate.

The Christie’s Magnificent Jewels Auction is considered one of the jewellery industry’s most prestigious sales events, showcasing items from Cartier, Harry Winston, Graff, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Bulgari.

The executive director of Paspaley, Michael Bracher, says the sale should remind the world of Australia’s strong pearling heritage. “A century ago, it was understood that some of the finest natural pearls ever discovered came from Australia’s wild oyster beds. In recent years, our success in producing exceptional cultured pearls has overshadowed this,” he says.

“I am thrilled that this auction result will help restore the fame of one of the oldest and culturally significant industries of North West Australia.”

Also at the Magnificent Jewels auction, a pair of natural pearl and diamond chandelier earrings by Paspaley sold above the high estimate for $HK6,420,000 (about $A1,109,000). The set featured 10 teardrop and button-shaped virgin (undrilled) natural pearls.

A Paspaley spokesperson said the two results are particularly significant because multi-million-dollar jewellery sales are generally the domain of a small number of renowned European jewellery houses, or large and important diamonds and coloured stones.

The world record auction price for a piece of pearl jewellery is believed to be the legendary La Peregrina, a historically significant jewel which achieved $US11,842,500 (about $A15.9 million) at a Christie’s sale in 2011.

The top result at the Magnificent Jewels auction in Hong Kong this week was for a coloured diamond ring by Moussaieff, which featured a 3.98-carat fancy vivid blue diamond within a pink diamond surround and sold for $HK68,860,000 (about $A11.84 million).

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