Getting into the festive spirit with jewels and silver

Jan 14, 2020

With tinsel, Christmas lights, a Christmas tree and mince pies, Wessex Auction Rooms Jewellery, Silver, Watches and Coins Auction had all the festive vibes and with a packed saleroom sporting Christmas jumpers the buyers were entering into the Christmas spirit.

Auctioneer and Jewellery & Silver specialist Izzie Balmer’s highlight of the auction was a stunning Georgian riviere necklace. “It was such a special necklace” comments Izzie “Georgian jewellery is rare, and to see such a beautiful necklace in such lovely condition is unusual. The stones in these necklaces are commonly foil backed and often the foil has degraded so the stones don’t look too pretty, but our necklace was in superb condition with a very special two-tone appearance; a cross between a bright pink and purple.” Whilst the bidding began in the room it was soon over-taken by the internet and two phone lines. The phones saw the ultimate battle with the gavel falling at £2,900.

An unusual pink sapphire and emerald enamelled ring saw lots of interest. It looked to be Indian in its style, the shoulders and mount with blue, white, red and green enamelling, including the underside of the mount, with the oval pink sapphire and emerald set next to each other to the centre of the ring. “What was special about this ring were the gemstones” explains Izzie “Natural pink sapphires are very rare and very desired and the depth of colour and saturation of colour of this pink sapphire was first class. On top of that, there was the emerald, which was also of superb quality. The rich hue of the green together with the excellent clarity of the stone, free from almost all inclusions, guaranteed a lot of interest in this ring”. With a battle between the room and the internet, it was the room bidder who secured this ring at £1,900.

Butterscotch amber remains popular with a graduated oval bead necklace selling for £1,300. Each bead displayed the beautifully opaque mottled yellowish-orange colour that butterscotch amber is so prized for. Dating to the 1920s the beads were in good condition and with pre-sale interest it was no surprise that bids were flying in the room and on the internet.

An Asian white metal circular pierced box and cover saw some strong competition. The box wasn’t hallmarked but was believed to be a low grade of silver, but there was extensive damage to the body and lid of the box, and so it was given a low guide. The decoration to the box was exquisite with detailed bamboo, prunus flower and other exotic blossoms covering the area. All of the interest came from online bidders and after a quick intense battle sold to a London buyer for £1,000.

Archibald Knox designs have proven extremely popular in recent years, and the trend does not appear to be abating. An Archibald Knox for Liberty & Co Tudric bracket clock sold for £950. The iconic green and blue enamelled face set to a pewter body with Art Nouveau design saw purely online bids with a race to see who would be the first to surrender. “The enamel was in perfect condition” reflects Izzie. “So often the enamel is chipped and this hugely affects the value because it is so exceptionally difficult to repair enamel, and all to often the repairs are ugly and disjointed. In addition to this, you have our nation’s love of Archibald Knox and his designs for Liberty & Co, so it was no surprise to see this clock sell well.”

In a time when dinner is becoming a rushed affair, with less and less time being spent on preparing a good home-cooked meal and with it becoming increasingly difficult to get all of the family together to sit down for dinner it was a pleasure to see silver flatware selling so well and above its silver value. The top-selling lot was a collection of early Victorian serving spoons in the Queens pattern. Kings pattern and Queens pattern are the most popular flatware patterns, with their timeless elegance suiting all households. This matched collection by makers Samuel Hayne & Dudley Cater, London 1854 and Chawner & Co, London 1863 sold for £600.

A silver Dunhill cigarette lighter saw some fierce competition. Silver Dunhill lighters are popular but what made this one remarkable was it came with its original box. “It’s rare to find the lighter with the box” notes Izzie “so often the box has been discarded or lost, so to have the box and in such good condition as well is a real treat and doubles the value of the item. Our boxed silver Dunhill lighter sold for £440”.

A Victorian 18ct yellow gold open face key wind pocket watch sold for £710. Georgian and Victorian pocket watches are the most desirable and this pocket watch was hallmarked Chester 1970. A hairline crack was visible to the dial, but this did not seem to deter bidders with the pocket watch selling above estimate.

A ladies 14ct yellow gold Rolex wristwatch sold for £700. Although it is more usual for Gents wristwatches to attract attention, the Rolex name and the excellent condition of this ladies watch ensured it received a string of bids, all from room bidders and, not surprisingly, from women. Gents watches are bought to be a part of a collection and not necessarily worn, whereas women’s watches are purchased to be worn.


It wasn’t the gold coins that took the top coin spot as might be expected but a silver Principality of Transylvania Thaler coin, dated 1592, by Sigsmund Bathori. The coin was in excellent condition for its age and sold to on online buyer. The condition of a coin is vital. It might be 1000 years old but if the condition is poor and the design barely visible it has a huge effect on the value. Whilst gold coins are theoretically the most valuable, a silver coin in superb condition can be worth more than a gold coin in poor condition.