A Cheshire Lady's Pearls...

Suite of Pearls Originally Purchased in Chester and Selling 200 Years Later

Consigned to Wilson 55's Spring Fine Jewellery & Watches Auction taking place on 17th March is a sensational suite of early 19th century seed pearl jewellery. Consigned from a Cheshire family, this breathtaking suite of jewels includes a necklace, pair of earrings, pendant, as well as two brooches. 

In a wonderful, complete state and together with its original fitted case, this suite is expected to attract interest from collectors of antique jewellery nationwide and beyond! 

An early Victorian seed pearl parure, comprising a necklace with graduated floral seed pearl spacers and swags, a pair of drop earrings, a diamond and seed pearl cross pendant, a floral en tremblant brooch, and one further brooch, brooches and pendant mounted on drilled mother of pearl backing, within a fitted case labelled 'Lowe & Sons, Bridge St Row, Chester.'  £1,500-2,500.


The suite features beautiful seed pearls throughout, each one individually threaded and woven into intricate floral and cross motifs. Pearls were a hugely sought-after gemstone and signifier of wealth prior to the discovery of the Cape diamond mines in 1867, with royals and maharajas sewing pearls into their clothing as a display of opulence for hundreds of years prior. Therefore this elaborate suite set with hundreds of pearls would have been highly prized, and was likely bought as a bridal set. 

Pre-dating the introduction of cultured pearls in the early 20th century, this parure contains hundreds of natural seed pearls, named so for their diminutive size. Measuring only milimetres in diameter, the skill and craftsmanship needed to create jewellery from these beautiful organic gemstones is both painstaking and incredible! The seed pearls in our suite of jewellery are likely to have come from India, which was a key source of pearls during this time.

In Georgian Jewellery, Collings & Dawes comment on the sensational parures of pearl jewellery in the early 19th century: "Particularly exquisite are the parures of seed pearls in various sizes, sewn by hand on to a drilled mother-of-pearl backing to create necklaces, hair, ornaments and earrings of delicate beauty." The brooches and cross pendant are crafted as Collings & Dawes describe, meticulously stitched onto mother of pearl backings.

The largest brooch in the parure features a wonderful en tremblant floral cluster, set onto a metal spring and ensuring a fabulous movement in time with the wearer. Translated from the French to 'trembling,' this describes the appearance of the central floral cluster, using a fashionable and popular jeweller's technique of the 18th and 19th centuries to enhance lustre and movement in their pieces.

The cross pendant is set with an old cut diamond and split pearl cluster to the centre, and is also reminiscent of the 'Maltese Cross' jewellery that was highly popular in jewellery of the 1830s. Meanwhile, the necklace is strung traditionally with two and three strands, enhanced with the addition of floral spacers and swag detailing, all terminating in a foil-backed pink topaz clasp. 

Considering the delicate nature of this breathtaking jewellery and the pearls themselves, it is remarkable that this suite of jewellery remains intact, together, and with its fitted case. Less than a handful of examples of these parures have sold at auction over the last couple of years, and very few examples are set with gemstones or contain multiple brooches in a named retailers case as our example does.


A Cheshire Connection

With Cheshire interest, the suite was retailed by Lowe & Sons Jewellers of Bridge Street Row in Chester and bears the company label to its fitted case. Lowe & Sons purchased their premesis on 11 Bridge Street Row in 1804, and this remains the location of the shop over 200 years later. Purchased from Lowes and remaining in Cheshire for over 200 years, it seems fitting that the suite should be sold through a Cheshire auctioneers.


This suite of jewellery will be sold as part of our Fine Jewellery & Watches Sale on Thursday 17th March. To find out more about this lot, or to obtain a free valuation of your own collection, contact our specialist Liz Bailey MA FGA DGA CPAA via liz.bailey@wilson55.com.  

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