Freeman's Fine Jewelry and Watches auction played host to one of the most remarkable gold jewellery sales of the year, yesterday (June 14).
When entered into the auction, this pair of Castellani archaeological revival fine gold tassel earrings were estimated at a relatively low $4,000-6,000.
This must have seemed like a respectable value - perhaps a perfect buy for an entry-level investor taking their first steps into the fine jewellery markets...
But that was before the bidders got involved. Their enthusiasm pushed the value of the earrings up... and up... and even further... all the way to $169,000.
In the end, the earrings' final value (including buyer's premium) was an incredible 28-times their original higher pre-sale estimate.
So why did these earrings command such a high amount? A clue can be found in the story behind them...
In 1836, the Italian jeweller Fornunato Pio Castellani (1794-1865) was enlisted to help archaeologists excavate the ancient Regolini-Galassi tomb.
Found within the tomb was a collection of jewellery decorated with granulation - tiny specks of gold applied to the surface. Inspired by this lost art, Castellani began applying the granulationto his own jewellery.
The fine gold tassel earrings were among the results. Formerly the property of a Virginia family, they bear a depiction of the god Apollo with horses over a crescent held on by two flanking angels.
With detachable pedants and amphorae beads, Castellani's use of granulated gold specs is evident in the earrings' intricate braided tassels.
It's very easy to see why the earring so excited bidders. And they weren't the only remarkable Castellani treasures to appear at Freeman's.
Also for sale was a magnificent Castellani gold chain with threaded flower and circular enamel bead. It appeared valued at $8,000-12,000.
Sold with an accompanying case by Dreicer & Co, New York, the chain sold for an incredible $115,000 (including buyer's premium).
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