A pair of rare and exceptional natural pearls suspended from a platinum, silver and diamond brooch sold for $3.3 million today at Doyle New York. Shattering its conservative estimate of $100,000 to $200,000, the exquisite jewel features two drop-shaped slightly brownish gray pearls measuring approximately 12.90 to 12.95 x 23.85 mm. and 12.90 to 13.05 x 22.45 mm., with silver and rose-cut diamond-set caps, suspended from a looped ribbon set with 23 old-mind cut diamonds weighing approximately 2.00 carats.
The impressive pearls were accompanied by a note that mentions the ‘History of Empress Eugenie’s Black Pearls & Necklace Brought to this country by George Crocker.’ Empress Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon the III, sold her magnificent collection of jewelry at auction in 1887 after the fall of the their regime. The historic auction of the French Crown Jewels took place in the Louvre and lasted twelve days, after which Tiffany & Co. proved to be the largest purchaser at the sale and bought almost a third of the crown jewels.
The elegant brooch was created in 1920 and boasts a prestigious provenance as depicted by Doyle New York:
The Crocker Family
George Crocker (1856-1909) was the son of Charles Crocker, who founded the Central Pacific Railroad in California and left a fortune estimated between $300-400 million at his death in 1888. In 1894, George married California mining heiress Emma (Hanchette) Rutherford, a widow with three grown children. The new couple settled in New York and built an imposing Beaux-Arts townhouse on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 64th Street. They also owned Shields Villa, a “cottage” at Ochre Point in Newport, RI, and they built a lavish country estate in Darlington, near Ramapo, NJ. In 1903, their youngest daughter, Emma Wallace Rutherford, married Philip Kearny, the son of General John Watts Kearny of Washington, DC.
The Rogers Family
Henry Huttleston Rogers (1840-1909) of Fairhaven, MA, was an American industrialist who made a fortune as a partner in Standard Oil and a founder of the Virginia Railroad. He and his wife, Abbie Palmer Gifford, both descended from families who had arrived on the Mayflower. He was also a close friend and confidant of author and humorist Mark Twain.
Henry Huttleston Rogers’ grandson, Henry Rogers Benjamin, married Dorothy Rennard, who wore the pearls on Christmas, 1925. Their daughter, Anne Rogers Benjamin, wore the pearls at her debut in 1941 at a ball hosted in her honor by her aunt, Beatrice Benjamin Cartwright, in the ballroom of New York’s St. Regis Hotel.
In 1945, Anne Rogers Benjamin married Robert Raymond Barry, and the couple settled in Bronxville, NY. In the 1959, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives, where he served three terms.
George Crocker, by descent to his daughter
Emma Wallace Rutherford (Mrs. Philip Kearny)
Acquired circa 1925 by
Henry Rogers Benjamin, by descent to his daughter
Anne Rogers Benjamin (Mrs. Robert R. Barry), by descent to her daughter
Mrs. Lewis A. Shea