Lawrences’ popular jewellery auctions in Crewkerne attract a large amount of enquiries and prices at the firm’s recent sale were showing fresh strengths across the market.
Amber, long recorded as merely a decorative resin, has now achieved the status of being acquired like a semi-precious stone and a there were nearly 30 lots of amber jewellery in the sale. Prices ranged from as little as £105 for a necklace of dark honey-coloured beads up to £2860 for a 39cm necklace of eye-catchingly shiny large orange beads (pictured). It is not merely the colour that appeals to collectors. “It is the large butterscotch amber beads that seem to be fetching the highest prices,” says Lawrences’s specialist, Miranda Bingham. “Recent interest in amber is predominantly coming from China. In the Buddhist tradition, amber is considered to bring good luck to people. In Chinese medicine it is valued for its calming properties and apparently when warmed by the skin it releases succinic which has natural analgesic properties. The larger the bead the larger the price it seems, and the round beads are the most sought after as they are associated with Buddhist rosaries.”
Perhaps more predictably, diamonds dominated the day with strong bidding for quality stones, often set with other coloured gems. Although rings are usually the most desirable lots, there was certainly a good demand for other wearable items: a Victorian amethyst and gold necklace (£4780), a diamond set pendant (£5970), a stunning Art Deco emerald and diamond brooch by Cartier (£5490), and a Georgian topaz and gold set riviere necklace (£7400) all sold well. The section’s top price was saved for the last lot: a Belle Epoque black opal and diamond brooch of remarkable lustre and elegance. This was bought for £11,950 (also pictured).