By Ase Anderson in London
Pearls are continuing to grab the spotlight at auction, with prices beating their pre-sale estimates tenfold at Bonhams Fine Jewellery sale last week.
A number of natural pearl jewels helped push total sales up to £4.2 million as bidders battled it out in the auction room and on the phone late into the evening.
A pearl necklace dating back to 1910 achieved the highest price in the sale at £194,000. The single strand pearl necklace features 75 natural pearls fastened with a marquise-cut diamond clasp. Another single row pearl necklace comprised of 70 pearls with a barrel-shaped pearl clasp saw its pre-sale estimate be beaten tenfold, with the hammer going down at £110,500.
A 1930s diamond and natural pearl ring on an engraved band sold for £47,500, nearly three times the estimated price.
The fact that style icons such as Kate Middleton, Sarah Jessica Parker and Angelina Jolie regularly wear pearl jewellery has also contributed to their status shifting from outdated to fashionable.
"The market for natural pearls continues to escalate with good quality specimens attracting a discerning international clientele," says Jean Ghika, director of jewellery at Bonhams.