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An impressive Edwardian brooch | 13 March

Introducing an impressive Edwardian aquamarine and diamond brooch formerly the property of Nancy Witcher Langhorne Astor, Vicountess Astor

To be offered in Fine Jewellery, Watches, Silver and Objects of Vertu | 13 March 2019

The pediment with a step cut aquamarine with canted corners, estimated to weigh 87.82 carats, within a millegrained surround of eight cut diamonds, approximately 0.76 carats total, suspending a large briolette aquamarine drop, 5.4cm long, with a banded and pierced scrolled rose cut diamond set cap, suspended from a rose cut diamond bale.

The brooch is a stunning 10.8cm in total length and is estimated at £15,000-20,000 (+fees).

Martha Rocha, after whom top quality aquamarines are named

This classic Belle Epoque jewel was made in 1910, it is however unsigned, and was possibly made in either the US or UK. The mounting is platinum fronted gold, the strength of which allows for a minimal, light setting so showing off the aquamarines to their best effect.

These stones are of top gem quality (probably Brazilian) with excellent depth of colour; today aquamarines such as these would be designated ‘Martha Rocha’ in colour. Martha Rocha, left, was a Brazilian beauty queen in the 1950s, and she was known for her brilliant, captivating eyes.

John Singer Sargent, RA (Florence 1856 - London 1925)
Nancy Witcher Langhorne, Viscountess Astor CH, MP (1879-1964),
oil painting on canvas, ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Nancy Astor was born in the United States and moved to England at the age of 26. She married Waldorf Astor in 1906, and they set up home at Cliveden, the Buckinghamshire estate on the River Thames. She became a parliamentary candidate for the seat of Plymouth Sutton when her huband, the previous incumbent, became a member of the House of Lords. On 1 December 1919 she was the first female MP to be elected to Parliament and to take up her seat.

Brazilian aquamarine

Viscountess Astor was not particularly known for her jewels, and in paintings and photographs she was invariably depicted in her favourite string of pearls (and, of course, a tiara when attending a ball). The aquamarine and diamond brooch has remained in the family and is consigned to the forthcoming March auction by Viscountess Astor’s great granddaughter.

Browse the full catalogue here

For further information on this jewel or to consign in future auctions, please contact the department: jsw@dreweatts.com | +44 (0)1635 553 553.