Search Gem Gossip!

meet contact


twitter button3 button1 GemGossipYouTube pinterest tumblr

Store & Designer Directory


Sponsored By:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Gem Gossip Friends
Bario Neal Fellows Auctions Alexis Kletjian
The Archives
Shop My Picks!
Follow on Pinterest!


Entries in sarah churgin (5)

Largest Known Near-Round Natural Saltwater Pearl to be Auctioned at Rago, December 7th!


On December 7, 2014, Rago Arts and Auction Center will auction the largest near-round natural saltwater pearl discovered to date. It is the central element of a brooch described by Sarah Churgin, who directs the Jewelry department at Rago, as “a pearl the size of a quail egg on a cracker of diamonds." We now refer to it as the Putilov Pearl Brooch.

About the Putilov Pearl Brooch 

GIA Pearl Identification Report #2165503254 describes the Putilov pearl as a drilled natural saltwater pearl of the Pinctada species of oyster measuring 19.08 x 18.88 x 16.50mm. with no indication of treatment; near-round; white body color; orient overtone. The pearl is full-drilled with nacreous plugs, one now detached. 

The 19th century oval brooch onto which the pearl is set measures 2" x 1 5/8". It is framed by 16 near colorless old mine cut diamonds , approximately  28 carats total weight, in cutback collets, and by numerous smaller rose cut diamonds set in silver topped gold.  Detachable pin findings orient either horizontally or vertically.  The frame bears the unrecognized scratched marks KAM and N677. It weighs 19.7 pennyweights. 

History of the Putilov Pearl Brooch/Origin of the Name

Using family records and public research tools, Sarah Churgin and Katherine Van Dell, a jewelry specialist at Rago, have reconstructed the history of the Putilov Pearl Brooch back to the early 20th century.  

Alexei (also written as Alexey, Aleksei and Alexis) Putilov, a Russian financier and industrialist, brought the brooch from Russia in the spring of 1918, crossing the Soviet-Finnish border and proceeding to Paris. Putilov had been a powerful man in Russia prior to the Revolution, connected in business and government circles, both in Tzarist Russia and Asia. His family founded the Putilov Metal Works Company, a major supplier of railway products for the Russian government and artillery for the Imperial Russian Army. Historians cite strikes at a Putilov mine in February of 1917 and a subsequent speech delivered at the mine by Lenin as events that contributed directly to the Russian Revolution. After the Revolution, Lenin himself signed a decree confiscating all Putilov's real and personal property. Putilov fled Russia. He resumed his banking career in Paris under a Gallicized name. 

The consignor is the great grandchild of Putilov and his wife, Vera. Her surname is Anglicized. The brooch was inherited by her mother, who was born and reared in France and emigrated to the U.S. in the 1950s. It is family lore that this pearl was part of an earlier necklace. 

The Putilov Pearl brooch did not come to the auction house directly. It arrived through the offices of an honest jeweler. The consignor brought him the brooch to raise family funds for elder care.  While he did not know the true value of the piece she placed in his hand, he saw that it was exceptional. Rather than take advantage, he directed them to Rago. Believing that the pearl was natural, the Rago jewelry department had it certified and then derived the provenance described. 

>> More on Rago's epic December 7th, 2014 sale SOON!

Rago Arts Jewelry Auction Set for December 8, 2013

2001_02 2080 2059 2110 2020 2018 2049 2177

Every year, as the holidays creep closer and the end of the year approaches, there is one auction that I get excited for and that is the Rago Arts Jewelry Auction!  It is like a yearly ritual, where I pick my favorite lots and get cozy on a lazy Sunday, ready to bid!  This year the date is set for December 8th and there are so many amazing lots!  Jewelry Specialist at Rago, Sarah Churgin, is especially excited this time around: 

"Every week brings at least one exciting discovery.  This last one came together yesterday concerning one of our favorite pieces in the sale: The granddaughters of Gustav Manz identified lot 2001, an unsigned Belle Epoque Jeweled Gold Giardinetto Necklace, described as:Edwardian Jeweled 18k Gold Giardinetto Necklace, deeply chiseled and worked gold pendant and stations on paperclip link chain, set with diamonds, rubies, sapphires, green garnet and topaz, suspends a briolette cut yellow sapphire, approx. 6 cts. Marked 18k. No maker mark apparent. Attributed to F. Walter Lawrence/Gustav Manz. 17", drops 3". 25.4 dwt., Estimate: $2,500 - $4,500. They have provided sketches and ledger records that connect it to their grandfather and F. W. Lawrence.  So now we can give credit where credit is due."

Other exciting lots include: 

THREE ANCIENT INTAGLIO GOLD RNIGS; Hieroglyph bead on triple-shank, possibly Ancient Egyptian; Roman banded agate intaglio depicts a soldier holding a helmet; Roman banded agate intaglio with enameled hoop depicts a boar. Mounted 19th-20th c. 

FIVE PIECES GENTLEMAN'S ANTIQUE GOLD JEWELRY; Tiffany & Co. 18k gold signet ring with embossed dolphin and seaweed shoulders, incised griffon head over crown and "Macte Virtute", size 10; Bonded agate ball and star set rose cut diamond cufflinks, at least 14k gold; Banded agate ball and rose cut diamond coiled serpent stick pin at least 14k gold; Carnelian and rococo 14k gold ring, size 7 1/2. 

ILIAS LALAOUNIS RING AND GOLD EARRING; Lalaounis 18k gold stylized antelope ring, size 6 1/2, 1 1/2"; Single 916 gold ear clip, granulated coil with pearls, 1 1/2", Greece, 20th c. 15.4 dwt. Pouch and box.

CAT'S EYE CHRYSOBERYL, DIAMOND RING; Oval sugar loaf cat"s eye, 15 cts. by formula, framed by rows of OEC and OMC diamonds, box set in platinum and a line of green enamel, on incised and pierced 14k gold "cigar band", ca. 1910. Size 5 1/2

TWO JEWELED GOLD CLUSTER RINGS; Emerald and sapphire oval cluster framed by channel of fine calibre cut sapphires, platinum-topped 18k yg., size 6 1/2; OMC, rose cut diamonds, approx. 2 cts. TW, and ruby accents frame circular peridot among open scroll panels, silver-topped 14 wg, size 5 1/4. 1920-1940.

GOLD JEWELRY, 1772-1920; Gold mourning ring depicts a gentleman beside grave, mine cut diamond border, hoop inscribed obit. Feb. 22, 1772, age 77; 14k gold Victorian hinged bracelet of twisted fluted wire centering porcelain portrait framed by rose cut diamonds (detaches); Cannetille gold and garnet brooch; Stick pin composed of earlier enameled gold and garnet with pearl jewel; 14k yg. fetter link watch chain supports enameled gold and diamond star pendant; 10k gold mesh bracelet, clasped by coiled enameled serpent with diamond head.

MODERN 18K GOLD JEWELRY, INCLUDES TIFFANY & CO.; Elsa Peretti for Tiffany & Co. collar with carnelian bead; Tiffany & Co. gold and amethyst cabochon ring, size 7; Textured earrings for pierced ears. 

Rago Arts Jewelry Auction 2011


Excited about this year's Rago Arts Jewelry auction because the jewelry is always gorgeous and each year I've always gotten the chance to bid on items. This auction never feels intimidating and I feel confident in the company. Every year I do a roundup of my favorite lots, and this year is no different...except this year I got a sneak peek into the jewelry cases! The above photo is a look into one of the cases over at Rago Arts. To read the interview I did with Rago Arts' Jewelry Specialist Sarah Churgin, click here.

 2331 2098 2433 2075 2014

Countdown to Rago Arts December Auction

It is already that time of year again!  Every December Rago Arts has an exciting jewelry auction, which never disappoints.  Last year Gem Gossip interviewed Sarah Churgin, Rago Arts' Jewelry Specialist.  Click here to read the interview.  Below are a few lots that are in December 4th's upcoming auction.  I will be closely watching what these jewels go for on the auction block come Saturday.

1094 1363 ragoarts skullrings 1360

Tips on Selling your Old Gold Jewelry from Rago Arts Jewelry Specialist Sarah Churgin


When it comes to getting the best price for the jewelry you no longer wear or want, it's a case of seller beware. 

With the high valuation of gold these days, the incentive to sell jewelry can be pretty strong. People are holding wine-and-cheese "gold parties" where they sell their jewelry for scrap value. Buyers are everywhere, proclaiming “We buy gold! Highest prices paid! Gold at record highs!”  

 This is not entirely true. Although the $1,000-an-ounce mark does have an unfamiliar ring to it, the benchmark is deceiving. Gold would have to hit $2,200 an ounce in today’s dollars to match the 1980’s high of $850. Silver was also at its high in 1980, bubbling from $8 an ounce in the fall of 1979 to over $49 in 1980. As a result, people sold anything and everything for scrap weight. Too many put too little thought to the importance of a piece itself, scrapping everything thing from exquisite examples of Georgian gold jewelry to Tiffany & Company exhibition silver - work with artistic or historic value -and therefore financial value - far in excess of its weight. 

 Don’t get us wrong - if you have kinked out chains or big hollow necklaces last seen on the Carringtons in Dynasty, it’s a perfectly good idea to scrap them. Just don't make the mistake of cleaning out your jewelry box or silver drawer before you run the contents past an expert. 

Here’s what we know that you may not: 

• Not all gold is marked. The American stamp act didn't occur until 1906. Prior to that, much wasn't marked at all.  

• The U.S. system that equates 24k gold with absolute pure gold is not and has never been a universal system. Most European countries and their colonies use a system wherein 1000 gold is absolute pure, 750 equates to 18k and 585 equates to 14k. These numbers are often confused for other marks.  

• The UK had a strong assay office that demanded gold and silver be marked clearly and uniformly. Not so with most other countries. Foreign marks - if pieces were marked at all – are often obscure and hard to find. You may not even see them.  

• Russian and French jewelry are highly valued and proper identification can greatly affect appraisals, but this can be difficult. French brooches tend to be marked on the pin stem. If the pin has been replaced, as frequently happens, the marks are gone. Russian assays are yet a different calculation (measured in zolotniks) and Russian marks are both easily confused and often “enhanced” by shady operators. 

• Late 19th century flatware services were produced with as many as a hundred different specialized utensils. Some of these place and serving pieces are rare, eagerly sought after by buyers looking to accumulate complete antique sets. 

• Early American silver marks intentionally resembled the English marks.  Values of American Federal silver far exceed those of imported pieces of the same era. 

• Even broken pieces can have greater than scrap value.  You might be surprised to know, too, that fine gems have not always been set in noble metal. Prior to the 20th century, diamonds were set into silver as a matter of course. These old cuts of diamonds may look like roughly faceted pieces of glass or rhinestones. Rago’s jewelry specialist Sarah Churgin has often identified antique silver jewelry as set with old diamonds, much to the surprise and delight of the owners.   


Rarity and importance of maker is a factor that must be considered. A piece of jewelry made by the Kalo Shop will look deceptively simple to most and may resemble the work of many other makers of the Arts and Crafts era (1880 - 1910). No matter. Kalo Shop has great value despite (or because) of its simplicity and much greater value than similar pieces of the era, particularly in gold.  

Provenance and inscription can likewise elevate value. Rago’s sold an historic commemorative tea caddy made of American coin silver for $2,880. The value of the silver itself? Only $200. Here are a few more examples of prices realized at Rago’s last December with the prices this jewelry and silver would fetch as scrap as of this writing: 

• Lot 1001: Enameled 14k yellow gold fly brooch by A.J. Hedges, Newark, 1890-1900. Scrap value: 

$300. Sold for $5,100.  

• Lot 1168: Ed Wiener 18k yellow gold cuff. Scrap value:  $950. Sold for $7,200. 

• Lot 1269: Mexican silver cuff by William Spratling, ca. 1940. Scrap value: $30. Sold for $1,440. 

• Lot 1603: Tiffany & Co. exhibition grade silver vase, ca. 1901. Scrap value: $1500. Sold for 


• Lot 1608: GORHAM MARTELE silver open sugar bowl, 1906. Scrap value: $200. Sold for $1,920.  

                                      - - - - - - - - 


 Don't miss the Rago Arts Jewelry Auction on December 6, 2009.  Exciting pieces are rolling in, and jewelry specialist Sarah Churgin is glad to share this special brooch with Gem Gossip readers.  

The Details: Walt Disney's "Dance of The Hours" platinum and diamond lapel-pin watch by Cartier.  Starting in1934 and continuing through the 40's Cartier produced commissioned gems for Disney based on characters from cartoon and animated features.  In  Disney's "Fantasia", 1940, Ponchielli's ballet "Dance of the Hours" is performed to comic effect by some graceful and some not so graceful animals, including a troop of elephants. The pun is captivating in that this gem is a timepiece!  The rectangular watch,  twice signed by Cartier, hanging from a lapel pin in the form of an elephant's tusk, suspends two dancing elephants.  Diamond pave' throughout, ruby eyes.  Movement: 17 jewels by J. Schulz, Swiss, c. 1940.

>>Interested in owning this rare Cartier brooch?  Then register and bid--for more information check out Rago Arts' website.  To read Gem Gossip's exclusive interview with jewelry specialist Sarah Churgin, click here.