On lots marked with an + in the catalogue, VAT wil… Read more THE PROPERTY OF A LADY

The two-row necklace with eighty-six and and seventy-six natural pearls and one cultured pearl of approximately 10.35 to 4.35 mm, the single-row necklace with sixty-two natural pearls of approximately 9.95 to 4.20 mm; cushion, square and old-cut diamonds, platinum, circa 1920, 74.6, 62.3 and 54.0 cm, signed Cartier (one indistinct)
SSEF, 2018, report no. 103412: approximately 10.35 to 4.35 mm, 162 saltwater natural pearls and 1 saltwater cultured pearl
SSEF, 2018, report no. 103413: approximately 9.95 to 4.20 mm, 62 saltwater natural pearls, Appendix letter
Special notice
On lots marked with an + in the catalogue, VAT will be charged at 7.7% on both the premium as well as the hammer price.
Sale room notice
Please note that this lot is accompanied by report no. 103412, SSEF, 2018: approximately 10.35 to 4.35 mm, 162 saltwater natural pearls and 1 saltwater cultured pearl; and report no. 103413: approximately 9.95 to 4.20 mm, 62 saltwater natural pearls, Appendix letter

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Rahul Kadakia
Rahul Kadakia

Lot Essay

Natural pearls / Treasures from the Sea
The origin of pearls is still a matter of great interest among gemmologists. We know that they are formed by oysters and mussels but we are not precisely sure what initiates their growth. These mysterious gems have been prized since at least the 5th century BC and have adorned the necks of kings, queens and emperors since that time.

Shakespeare wrote that ‘The liquid drops of tears you have shed, Shall come again, transform’d orient pearl.’ It was believed that at certain times of the year oysters would rise to the surface of the sea and open their shells to receive drops of water which over the course of time, aided by sunlight, would be transformed into lustrous pearls. Even as late as 1908 this legend persisted, as exemplified by a letter from the American Consul in Aden who noted that ‘The Arabs that fish the sea blame long months of dry weather for the disastrously poor pearl catches this year’.

The rarity of a gem quality natural pearl of any significant size cannot be overstated. Over the course of History, the majority of natural pearls discovered have weighed less than a grain and thus to amass a collection to produce a single-row, let alone several, would have been an extraordinary feat at anytime. During the early years of the 20th century Cartier famously sold many exceptional pearl jewels which commanded extraordinary prices, the highest in their history. Although revered since ancient times, it was at this point that natural pearls reached their zenith in terms of value, due not only to the fashion for long ropes of pearls during the Art Déco period but also for their historic link with exclusivity and noblesse.

The Dodge Pearls
The magnificent pearl necklace offered as lot 305 became internationally famous in the beginning of the 20th century, its history involves one of the best jewellery Houses in the world, famous industrialists as well as the rumour of an Imperial provenance…
The Dodge Pearls were purchased from Cartier in May 1920 by Horace Elgin Dodge (1868-1920). Horace and his brother John came from a mechanically minded family in Michigan and, as both brothers were brilliant engineers, they started producing motors for Henry Ford, with John eventually becoming Vice President of Ford Motor Company. In 1919 Henry Ford bought their holding in the firm for US$ 25 million, making each brother extremely wealthy; meanwhile Dodge Automobiles had also been making their own cars since 1914.
In 1896 Horace married Anna Thompson (1871-1970), a piano teacher who had emigrated from Dundee, Scotland in the mid-1870s. Horace and Anna’s only daughter Delphine was married on the 16th June 1920 to James H.R. Cromwell, stepson of Eva Stotesbury whose husband was the Senior Partner of Drexel and Co., a leading merchant bank of the day.
According to Hans Nadelhoffer in his book Cartier, Jewellers Extraordinaires,
‘Not long before the wedding Mr Dodge took his future son-in-law aside and said “Jim, Mother doesn’t have the kind of pearls your mother has. In the church people are going to notice that sort of thing. Where does your mother buy ‘em?” Cromwell mentioned Cartier “Never heard of ‘em.” Dodge said. “But get me an appointment with this fella.” And so Cromwell arranged a meeting between Pierre Cartier, Horace Dodge and himself.’
Nadelhoffer then relates how Horace Dodge consistently called Pierre Cartier “Mr Car-teer” while asking for the most beautiful pearls to match those of Mrs Eva Stotesbury. Pierre Cartier finally produced a five-strand natural pearl necklace which he said had belonged to Empress Catherine II of Russia.
The necklace was accompanied by three clasps: the first wo were diamond-set by Cartier, the third one was an 18th century enamel miniature clasp depicting Catherine the Great. After conducting exhaustive research as to the Imperial provenance of the necklace, Horace Dodge finally agreed to the purchase for the immense sum of US$825,000, approximately US$70,000,000 in today’s money. It was amongst the most expensive jewellery transactions ever recorded.
As with many historic jewels, exact provenance is hard to verify, however it is well recorded that Cartier purchased a great deal of Imperial and aristocratic jewellery after the Russian Revolution of 1917; including specifically jewels and gems that had once belonged to Catherine the Great.
The pearl necklace was given to Delphine but came back into the possession of her mother Anna upon Delphine’s untimely death in 1943. The necklace remained with Anna until she gifted it to her granddaughter Anna Ray ‘Yvonne’ Baker, Delphine’s daughter by her second marriage to Raymond T. Baker. Yvonne was orphaned at the age of ten when her mother died; her father having passed-away eight years earlier.
In 1968 Anna gave Yvonne the famous ‘Catherine the Great Pearls’ as they were known in the family. Yvonne’s children relate that it was at that time that their mother dismantled the original five strand necklace, dividing the rows between friends and her three children, who received one strand each in the subsequent years. It was the latter three rows that were reunited with the two Cartier diamond clasps and originally offered for sale in 2008.

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