A rare Lalique brooch has sold for £58,000 at Salisbury auction house, Woolley and Wallis Salerooms, despite almost being thrown away by its owner.
The lady vendor, local to the salerooms, was selling items to finance a knee operation when she came across the brooch in a box of bric-a-brac tucked away in her loft. Believing it to be of little value, she brought it to jewellery specialist Jonathan Edwards and was amazed by his conservative pre-sale estimate of £5,000 - 7,000. On being told of its hammer price, a record for a piece of jewellery at Woolley and Wallis, she said she was "staggered but delighted".
Her sentiments were shared by specialist Jonathan Edwards, who feels that the result reflects the currently buoyant jewellery market. The price is the second record for Jonathan's department this year, after a large diamond cluster ring sold for £52,000 in the January Jewellery sale. However, this piece is closer to the specialist's heart: "It's not so difficult to get a high price for substantial diamonds," says Jonathan, "but here we're talking about something which has an intrinsic value of only a few hundred pounds. For this brooch to make the price that it did shows how much collectors value its rarity, collectability and, above all, its beauty."
There were several collectors and dealers standing by to contest the piece, many of whom were quickly disappointed as the price rose well above the £20,000 which many had expected it to make. It was all hands on deck for saleroom staff who were manning fifteen telephone lines, as well as fielding early bids from the internet. In the end the piece sold on the telephone to West End dealer Wartski, having been underbid in the room by disappointed Lalique dealer, Raoul Arantes.
The popularity of the brooch appears to rest, at least partly, in its construction. "Lalique was not only a spectacular jewellery designer," opines Jonathan Edwards, "he is also famous for his glass ware. The pate-de-verre body of this brooch, and its plique-a-jour wings, means that it combines both areas, increasing its appeal to collectors."