Rare Suite of 45 Quahog Pearls, Mercenaria mercenaria, Northern Quahog clam species, Coastal waters of the North Atlantic. Estimate US$ 250,000 – 300,000 (€200,000 – 240,000). Photo Bonhams.
Described by Linnaeus in 1758, the quahog pearl does not come from an oyster but rather a thick-shelled edible member of the clam family. It is estimated that only 1 in 100,000 Quahog clams actually produce a pearl of any kind. Before its use in jewelry the Quahog was used as the nation’s first domestic currency. The Wampanoag tribe used a medium of exchange called wampum which consisted of beads made of the shell of the Quahog bi-valves.
The present suite was painstakingly collected by its owner over a period of three decades. The forty-five pearls show the range of hues in which these pearls can be found from deep aubergine to violet, lavender, purple, cream, ivory and white with the largest weighing approximately 22.75 carats and measuring 16.5 x 11.5 mm. The suite includes six pearl which could be mounted as a pair of earrings. This is an extraordinary suite of non-nacreous pearls which represents a lifetime of collecting and a unique offering at public auction. (45) Total weight approximately 242.29 carats.
Bonhams. GEMS, MINERALS, LAPIDARY WORKS OF ART AND NATURAL HISTORY, 23 Nov 2014 10:00 PST – LOS ANGELES