An 18th century British gold and jewel encrusted necessaire and clock will be offered in Christie’s Magnificent Jewels sale in London on December 6.
The piece is constructed in the image of a pagoda.
That’s because it was expressly designed for the Chinese market.
The jeweller necessaire features a built in clock
While these elaborate automata first became popular in Europe, by the late 1700s they'd sparked a full on craze among Chinese nobility.
This was great news for the British, as Christie’s expert Meredith Etherington-Smith explains.
“The Chinese emperor Qianlong was passionate about clocks, and owned more than 3,000 of them. Moreover, England needed to export something desirable to the Chinese to offset its balance-of-payments problem...
“Over the course of the 18th century, shiploads of sing-songs were transported to China and India, but none, I believe, were as glamorous and exquisite as this necessaire.”
Christie’s is keeping the estimate close to its chest, but others have sold for sums in the low millions.
The record is $3.3m, set for a Chinese made signing clock in 2015.
There’s also a hugely impressive diamond necklace by Harry Winston, valued at $3.5m.
The revolutionary design is inspired by holly wreaths. The diamonds are held together by a structure that cannot be seen when it’s being worn.
Senior specialist Daphne Lingon says: “It’s an exquisite piece that really ticks all the boxes.
“Its workmanship, quality, provenance — this is the pinnacle of what Harry Winston collectors look for.”
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