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Rare coral necklace sells for £36,830 at Ewbank's Auctions
Once reputed to be the largest in the world, this 605.8 gramme coral necklace took £36,830 at Ewbank’s Auctions of Surrey on June 20.

SEND MARSH.- This rare coral necklace – once thought to be the largest of its kind in the world – has sold for £36,830 at auction.

Expected to take £5,000 and £8,000, the huge price came after a European agent thought to be bidding for a Chinese buyer in the room fought off competition at Ewbank’s Auctions of Send Marsh, Surrey.

The 605.8 gramme necklace of graduating beads was exhibited at The International Fisheries Exhibition in 1883, staged at the Royal Horticultural Society grounds in South Kensington, and won a bronze. At the time of the exhibition, the necklace was reputed to be the largest coral bead necklace in the world. It sold with its original paperwork and envelope from the exhibition.

This scientific, cultural, and animal exhibition was open in South Kensington, London, between May 12 and October 31, 1883, and was the largest special event held in the world to that date.

Exhibitors from throughout world bought examples of all sea life, a special section of coral contained the necklace, along with the coral collection of Victorian travel writer Lady Anna Brassey.

Also sold from the same collection were two other coral pieces: a large Georgian coral cross dating to 1824 and a 19th Century coral and gold brooch, which went to different buyers.

These three items were formerly the property of Louisa Molyneux-Berry and her husband Henry Blayds Molyneux, grandson of Thomas Molyneux, mayor of Liverpool and gentleman of Newsham House Liverpool.

Ewbank’s jewellery specialist Andrea Machen commented; “Many organic gems have recently increased in value. Coral is, of course, now protected but in the 18th and 19th century it was considered the perfect jewellery for daytime wear, and the fact that it can be carved meant that some of the most skilled jewellers fashioned it.

“Before Queen Victoria made black the choice colour for mourning, coral was used in sentimental jewellery to remember the departed. It was also presented to brides and given on the birth of a baby to ward off evil spirits and later used in baby’s rattles.”

The auction also saw a gold and turquoise insect brooch, which featured in two James Bond films, take £3800. The brooch, shown here, was worn by Miss Moneypenny, played by Lois Maxwell, in the wedding scene in the 1969 film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and again in the first office scene of the 1983 Bond film Octopussy.

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