Sotheby's Hong Kong to auction the Cowdray Pearls
September 3, 2015: Sotheby’s Hong Kong is presenting The Cowdray Pearls, one of the finest and rarest grey pearl necklaces known (est. US$4.5 – 7 million), at its Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite Autumn Sale to take place on October 7 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Formerly in the collection of Viscountess Cowdray, Lady Pearson (1860 – 1932), a distinguished connoisseur and collector, this magnificent necklace strung and mounted by Cartier comprises 42 extremely rare and superb natural grey saltwater pearls well-matched in lustre, shape and size, and is accompanied by a pair of natural grey pearl earrings, mounts by Cartier London.
The Cowdray Pearls will be exhibited in Singapore (12 – 13 September), Taipei (19 – 20 September), New York (24 September), London (28 September), Geneva (29 September) and the Middle East (date to be confirmed) prior to the auction in Hong Kong.
As noted by Swiss Gemmological Institute (SSEF), the Cowdray Pearls is an “exceptional pearl necklace” that has been described to possess “extraordinary characteristics and merit special mention and appreciation”. Their colour subtly varies in different shades of grey and brown, partly combined with highly attractive ros, purple and green overtones. SSEF also notes that “apart from its aesthetic beauty and rarity, this pearl necklace is also exceptional due to its documented historic provenance.”
Formerly in the collection of Viscountess Cowdray, Lady Pearson (1860-1932), the Cowdray Pearls originally comprising 42 pearls had been re-strung to 38 pearls. Two pearls from this strand after 1937 were mounted into a pair of earrings by Cartier, which remained with the Cowdray family. These and two other pearls originating from another antique jewel were recently re-strung back to its original number of 42 pearls – “to make it a superb layout of historic pearls” (SSEF, 2013). The Cowdray Pearls first appeared at auction at Sotheby’s London in 1937.