An impressive natural pearl necklace / tiara and earrings, circa 1900

The combination of pearls and diamonds has been throughout the centuries the perfect way to convey power, wealth and status, as well as glamour and femininity.

At the court of Napoleon Bonaparte, at the beginning of the 19th century, his wives and sisters were renowned for commissioning and wearing opulent pearl and diamond parures.


Marie Caroline Bonaparte, Queen of Naples, (1782-1839), sister of Emperor Napoleon I, in a portrait by Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun | Museum of the Palace of Versailles

The fashion did not decline throughout the century and perhaps grew stronger, with the grandest of all pearl and diamond tiaras being commissioned by Louis Philippe, Emperor of the French, on the occasion of his marriage to Eugénie de Montijo, Countess Teba, in 1853, from the Parisian jeweller, Gabriel Lemonnier.

This necklace / tiara appears to have been perhaps inspired by Lemonnier’s creation and certainly we believe it shows strong similarity in the design which consists of pearl and diamond clusters surmounted by a graduated row of larger pear-shaped pearls.


Empress Eugénie's pearl and diamond tiara, created by Gabriel Lemonnier in 1853 | Louvre Museum, Paris

Lemonnier, of course, had the opportunity of choosing pearls from the royal collections and therefore his creation is understandably more imposing; nevertheless, we admire the classic simplicity of the present jewel and the high quality of the natural pearls, well matched both in terms of skin and lustre.

Empress Eugénie (1826-1920) wearing her tiara by Lemonnier, after a portrait by François Xavier Winterhalter

The original necklace / tiara dating from the 1900s, appears to have been subsequently adapted by the addition of single-stone diamond elements, which added overall length, as well as the opportunity to use two of the pearl and diamond clusters to create a pair of earrings.

The tiara fitting is modern and was created to fit the new dimensions of the necklace.

It is understood the jewel was purchased from Harry Winston in New York in the 1960s and is presented in its leather pouch stamped with the name of the jeweller.

The images of the tiara and earrings worn bring the jewels to life and show their enormous elegance and glamour.


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Further details:
Antique natural pearl and diamond set, circa 1900

Comprising a necklace, set with 20 natural button pearls for a total weight of 93.25 carats (373.02 grains, 1 x 8512.25), within an old-cut diamond surround estimated to weigh a total of circa 38 carats, further suspending 9 drop-shaped natural pearls for a total weight of 79.14 carats (316.59 grains, 1 x 12726.64) and a pair of earrings of cluster design, each set with a button shaped pearl of respectively 5.95 carats (23.80 grains, 1 x 566.44) and 6.30 carats (25.20 grains, 1 x 635.04), within an old-cut diamond surround for a total weight of circa 1.5 carats on each earring, mounted in platinum and 18k yellow gold, the necklace can be worn as a tiara with a separate fitting of later make, circa 1900, necklace length 36cm, earrings circa 1.6 x 1.7, total pearl weight for the necklace and the earrings 184.65 carats (738.61 grains, 1 x 22440.37)

With report no. 111453 dated 18/12/2019 from the SSEF, stating that the necklace are saltwater natural pearls, from white to slightly cream colour and green overtones

With report no. 111454 dated 18/12/2019 from the SSEF, stating that the pearls of the earrings, weighing 5.948 and 6.298 carats, are saltwater natural pearls of white colour


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