Two Unusual Jewellery ‘Finds’ at recent Dreweatts' Valuation Days

Last year, members of the public as well as our experts had some memorable surprises at our Auction Valuation Days,’ said James Nicholson, Dreweatts’ International Head of Jewellery. ‘Throughout the year we hold free valuation days up and down the country; people can bring anything to us from jewellery, silver, furniture and pictures to Oriental Art, books, clocks and general collectables and our experts will identify the pieces and give free advice on current market values at auction. All our departments have had those ‘Antiques Roadshow’ moments, but two particular occasions spring to mind when I was bowled over by what cropped up!’

One lady brought in a selection of unremarkable ceramics of little value and then, as an after-thought, she pulled out a cloth covered box with Guild Of Handicrafts and the London Brook Street address embossed in gilt on the lid. Inside was a gold necklace interspersed with blister pearls and an enamel pendent depicting a snowdrop. On close inspection Dreweatts’ jewellery specialists were able to confirm that the necklace was indeed made by the Guild of Handicrafts, and the pendent had been enamelled by the Guild’s premier enameller, Fleetwood Charles Varley.

John Kelly, one of Dreweatts’ Jewellery specialists with a particular passion for the Arts and Crafts Movement, said ‘It was thrilling to see this charming piece in a Guild of Handicrafts box, complete with the original bill of sale for £10 and 10 shillings from the early 1900s. Nowadays it is difficult to find items of this quality and which haven’t been on the market since the day they were bought.’ This necklace has a pre sale estimate of £2,000-3,000 and will be offered at Dreweatts’ Fine Jewellery sale at Donnington Priory on 21st March 2012.

Another ‘find’ from one of Dreweatts’ Auction Valuation Days, was the extraordinary early 20th century opal dragon pendant and necklace. Brought in by a descendent of the theatre patron and manager Anne Horniman (1860-1937), this eye-catching piece in the shape of a rampant dragon had a silver body profusely inlaid with over 300 opals simulating scales, and a snarling face with garnet and green enamel eyes.

The only daughter of the renowned tea trader Frederick Horniman, who at the turn of the last century owned the biggest tea company in the world, Anne was a flamboyant character at a time when genteel ladies tended to take a back seat; she not only played a pivotal role in the development of the theatre and smoked in public, but she also cycled over the Alps twice! However Anne Horniman is best remembered for establishing the Abbey Theatre in Dublin which opened in December 1904, and later founding the Gaiety Theatre in Manchester which was the first regional repertory theatre company in Britain; all her archives are now in Manchester University’s John Rylands Library.

She encouraged the work of new writers and playwrights, including George Bernard Shaw and WB Yeats, who persuaded her to go to Dublin to back productions by the Irish Literary Theatre. In numerous portrait photographs she is seen wearing the ‘signature’ opal dragon necklace which was obviously commissioned from a master jeweller working in the Arts and Crafts ethos. This striking, unique piece is being offered at auction by Dreweatts at Donnington Priory in the Fine Jewellery sale on 21st March and has an estimate of £3,000-5,000. The highlights from the sale will be on view at Dreweatts’ and Bloomsbury Auctions’ Mayfair branch prior to the sale.

For further details of a Dreweatts' Free Valuation Day in your area, please call 01635 553 553 or click here.

Dreweatts - 10 January 2012