This thoroughly delightful and exceptionally rare diamond and conch pearl brooch, circa 1890 - 1900, is large in scale but utterly graceful with its fluid lines and movement. Masterfully hand fabricated in silver over 18K gold, this late Victorian / early Edwardian brooch depicts a spray of pink conch pearl buds amongst curvaceous sparkling diamond-set leaves.
Conch Pearls: Accompanied by a gemological report from GIA stating (for largest pearl) natural saltwater conch pearl (17.37 x 13.41 mm)
Measures 3 1/2" x 1 5/8" wide. Three smaller: light pink on left 8.19 x 6.80 mm, peach 7.21 x 4.06 mm, bottom light pink 7.46 x 5.58 mm
Weight: 29.4 grams
Diamonds: estimated 3.06 total carats of old mine cut and single -cut diamonds, SI1 - I1 range in clarity, smaller diamonds H-I range in color, largest three are warmer
Notes: There is one place that was reinforced with a laser that has separated - located above the largest conch pearl
To appreciate their uniqueness, here are a few facts about conch pearls:
Queen Conch live in groups in the shallow waters of the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. The conch pearl is a completely natural phenomenon created with no intervention from man, making them rare and desirable.
There is a range in numbers regarding the rarity of conch pearls but some sources state only one in 2,000 shells harvested holds a pearl, one in 10,000 contains a conch pearl that can be used in jewelry; and one in 100,000 holds a gem-quality piece. Pearls over 10 carats are rare but have been found as large as 100 carats.
Conch pearls are found in a variety of colors, pink being the most desirable.The finest examples display a vibrant wave-like "flame" like structure visible to the naked eye. This "flame" is caused by the formation of calcite microcrystalline fibres in concentric layers just below the surface.
Unlike oyster pearls, conch pearls are non-nacreous, meaning they are not made of nacre and don't display the same iridescent lustre. They do however have the same chemical composition.
The Queen Conch is now considered an endangered species and listed in Appendix II of the CITES (Convention for the International Trade on Endangered Species). This is due to over fishing and poaching to meet the unprecedented demand for conch meat, as well as habitat degradation - such as loss of nursery habitats like shallow-water sea grass meadows. Restrictions and bans have been placed on fishing in many countries, including the US State of Florida, Bermuda, Cuba, Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico, Virgin Islands and Antilles.