Natural Pearls at Auction


Well-known member
Apr 17, 2015
Hello PG'rs- :)

I am new to the "Guide", so I am sorta lurking around getting a feel for the layout, relationships and communication styles of posters. Looking to see what is trending in conversations. All the while hoping along the way to find fellow Bay Area G.I.A Alumni that have entered the world of pearls for me to connect with or anyone else willing to have their brains picked at. (I have a few industry mentors, but one can never have enough knowledge/info. Gemology is continual state of learning). While my knowledge base is more around colored stones/diamonds, I have always found the pearl industry fascinating and completely different than the cold hard world of faceted gemstones.

I live near Bonhams in San Francisco (and have been to several Auction previews back when they auctioned jewelry at that location), Bonhams recently had a Natural pearl drop & diamond bow brooch up for Auction. It went for $17000, at 10.78mm (no idea what it was listed as in carats).

I've noticed over the years quite a few "Natural" Pearl jewelry items up at Auction. (Sometimes they move other times they are passed over.)

On to my questions:
  • Does anyone here follow auction results?
  • Is there a preferred period of jewelry featuring natural pearls,
  • Are the natural saltwater pearls more preferred than natural freshwater pearls. (Texas, Tennessee are just two of several areas famous in the south for producing natural freshwater pearls, though it seems to be a localized interest)

I'm curious because I have a friend that was interested in the bow brooch, but she got cold feet for the most part, and this was one piece that went much higher than we expected.

Thanks for any insight/input

I suggest that you take your friend over to Lang Antiques to have a look. They can give you insight into the popularity of natural pearl jewelry eras and a few of them belong to the Golden Gate GIA Alumni chapter. And they have many spectacular jewelry pieces that you will both enjoy seeing.

KC Bell, a natural pearl dealer is located in the bay area. If you are interested in purchasing new pearls to sell, I would suggest contacting Betty Sue King of King's Ransom pearls in Sausalito and Jack Lynch of Sea Hunt pearls in San Francisco. They both have Web pages.

And look up the Golden Gate chapter on the GIA Alumni page.

Welcome to Pearl Guide! :)
Hello Blaire,

Thank you kindly for the info and warm welcome! I confess, I am familiar with Lang Antiques (and the staff) I'm embarrassed to admit my face was often pressed up against their window back when Rincon-Hill was my old neighborhood and Union Square was my weekend outing. We finally had them look over a very old brooch though that was ages ago. Ironically re: Betty Sue King we have a trip planned a few weekends from now to get back over to see her in Sausalito, it is a trip for gssp exploration not natural pearl hunting.

In fact all the those mentioned are familiar to me and they are all great suggestions that I just hadn't even thought about to be honest. Though I suspect that is because my friend gets Auction fever (if there is such a thing) and there is some sort of thrill in the chase for her, she seems to like keeping an eye out for "Old Gumps pieces" at auction for their SF connection. That natural pearl brooch caught her eye quite out of the blue, and the price surprised her (and me too).

My online exploration relating to natural pearls led me back to P-G, which I had not visited in quite some time so I started lurking here again. I posted as I was just curious how many pearl enthusiasts here might also be in the bay area. I am a semi-active member of the GIA GG Alumni Assoc (and LinkedIn) for sure, but I don't recall connecting with anyone with the level of pearl appreciation as I've seen displayed here, aside from one or two Alumni people that I know of anyway. There are quite a few names here that recognize though not directly related to the GG Alumni chapter.

Alumni member or not I truly look forward to learning from all the experts and enthusiasts here as I venture into my GIA Graduate Pearls studies, clearly there is a lot to learn. (Grains of sand do not create pearls, that is my new mantra for the next several months)

Thanks again for the greeting!
Great. You might also consider using Gail Brett Levine's Auction Market Resource. You can pay by the day and search all natural pearl jewelry sold at auction. :)
This is also good advice.
Gail Brett Levine, the name is totally familiar. I grew up in Virginia I wonder if I might have crossed paths in my much younger days? Anyhow thanks again for the guidance and resources.

Gail Brett Levine is on the GIA Alumni board and is always the top carat point earner. And she is the head honcho at NAJA - National Association of Jewelry Appraisers. You couldn't avoid hearing her name. She lives in NY state outside of NYC and has been the president of the Manhattan Alumni Chapter many times. And she's a peach! :)
I'll have to make a note to remind myself to get pics for you all if possible. Pending The Pearl Goddess is approving of such things!