The 1870s necklace is made in 15 carat yellow gold and set with 18 graduated oval faceted amethysts in scalloped collets joined by chain links.
The central five gems graduate in size, each suspending a pear shaped amethyst from a knife bar setting, with a concealed clasp to the reverse. Amethyst was once considered to be as valuable as ruby and emerald, with it regularly worn by royalty and religious figures.
Guy Burton of Hancocks London, said that the necklace is made in 15 carat gold which was a British gold standard used between 1854 and 1932. 15 carat is stronger than 18 carat so would have held the stones very securely but it still retains a “lovely rich colour”.
All the stones in the necklace, 340 carat in total, would have reportedly been cut by hand with the necklace itself hand-made, each pinched collet created to exactly fit each individual stone. The necklace is said to be in “excellent condition” and a “real collectors’” item.
Amethyst is the best known and “best loved member” of the Quartz family. Its purple colour varies from the palest blush mauve to the deepest most regal purple.
Significant sources include Brazil, Bolivia, Russia and Zambia. It frequently occurs in large sizes and crystals can weigh hundreds sometimes thousands of carats. Russia was the “primary source” of early stones and they were hugely expensive.
Once the large Brazilian deposits were discovered in the 19th Century, the gem became more widely available. The necklace “most likely” was sourced in Brazil but is not known for certain.
Burton said: “The Ancient Greeks believed wearing an amethyst would guard against drunkenness and the gemstone was popular with the Egyptians as a stone for carving intaglios.
“It is also believed that St Valentine wore an amethyst ring carved with the image of Cupid, thereafter the stone became associated with love and lovers. It was also held to attract wisdom, enhance religious fervour, suppress evil and attract good fortune.”