A pair of rare and exceptional natural pearls sold for $3,3 million at Doyle New York’s April 28, 2014 Auction of Important Jewelry and thus set a world record for natural pearls at auction. This whopping price surpassed by almost $900,000 the prior world record for a pair of natural pearls set last year. The drop-shaped pearls sold at Doyle New York were purchased by an anonymous telephone bidder.
Warm gray pearls measured approximately 9/10 inch (23 mm) in height and 1/2 inch (13 mm) wide and are mounted in diamond and silver caps, which are set on a platinum and diamond pendant. A Swiss Gemmological Institute (SSEF) report states that they are natural saltwater pearls with no indications of artificial color modification. The report puts the weights at 104 and 100 grains. They added a special statement describing the pearls in remarkably enthusiastic language, stating: “Assembling a matching pair of natural pearls of this size and quality is very rare and exceptional, and thus this pair of pearls can be considered a very exceptional treasure of nature.”
A handwritten note accompanying the pendant associated the pearls with Empress Eugenie, whose jewels were sold at an historic auction in the Louvre in 1887, following the fall of Napoleon III. Tiffany & Co. was the largest purchaser at that 12-day sale, buying almost a third of the French crown jewels.
The note adds that they later descended in the family of two prominent industrialists of America’s Gilded Age: George Crocker (1856-1909), the son of Charles Crocker, who founded the Central Pacific Railroad in California and left a fortune estimated between $300-400 million and Henry Huttleston Rogers (1840-1909) of Massachusetts, an American industrialist who made a fortune as a partner with John D. Rockefeller in Standard Oil and a founder of the Virginia Railroad.