However, I have also been amazed by the fantastic selection of antique and modern jewellery items consigned to the sale. Just this morning I took in two jewellery consignments worth over £10,000 in total. and last week a local vendor brought in some stunning items of antique jewellery. These included a very fine Victorian opal and diamond necklace valued at £3,500/£4,500 and a Victorian elaborate baroque style necklace, set with emeralds and diamonds estimated at £2,500/£3,500. As I began to catalogue an Art Deco large diamond set brooch my shoulder suddenly began to feel much better.
One very unusual rarity, which is definitely not an item that would appeal to everyone, is a Victorian gold necklace set with twenty six metallic green scarab beetles – yes, I do mean real beetles! Scarab beetles (which are more commonly called dung beetles) have been used in jewellery since the Egyptian period with several revivals - notably during the Victorian and Art Deco periods. The beetles were viewed as powerful symbols of the cycle of life and death and consequently worn as a form of protection from evil spirits. The Victorians were of course not frightened of getting enthusiastic about dead animals and developed a rather gruesome obsession for taxidermy in many different forms as well as using bird feathers and butterfly wings to decorate a wide range of items. Insects were surprisingly popular motifs in jewellery with spider, bee and fly design brooches and pendants in strong demand. This may all seem rather counter intuitive to us, but this actually reflects a genuine interest and curiosity in the natural sciences and a love of nature.
The scarab beetle necklace comes with a pair of matching pendant earrings (each hung with a single beetle) and is estimated to make £300/£500 - although it is hoped it will do far better on the day due to its excellent condition and the large number of beetles involved!