An ‘incredibly rare’ pear blossom sculpture made by Faberge has been valued at £1m on BBC One’s Antiques Roadshow.
Owned in trust by The Worcestershire Yeomanry Charitable Trust and used by an Army Reserve Cavalry Squadron, the gold, diamond and jade stem is one of the most significant finds in the Roadshow’s 40-year history.
Jewellery expert Geoffrey Munn valued it during an Antiques Roadshow at the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley, which will be broadcast this Sunday.
Mr Munn said: “This was a sensation beyond our wildest dreams really – this is a towering masterpiece from Faberge.
“It’s what we call an ‘object of fantasy’ because it has absolutely no function whatsoever except to be a source of pleasure – and it is.
“It’s a study; a sculpture of a pear blossom rendered in enamelled gold and the centres of each flower have a tiny dew drop which is a diamond – it is supported in a vase made of rock crystal.
“It the rarest, most poetic manifestation of Faberge’s work that one could ever hope to see.”
Fiona Bruce described the moment the Antiques Roadshow team realised something very special had been brought along: “When the item came into our Roadshow at the Black Country Museum, word quickly got round that something very special had been brought in.
“Could it be Faberge? Would its value break records? Would Geoffrey Munn be able to contain himself? We weren’t disappointed and it was the find of the series.”
The pear blossom ornament was gifted to The Queen’s Own Worcestershire Hussars (QOWH) in 1904 by Georgina, Countess of Dudley the wife of Lord Dudley, the Second in Command of the Regiment.
Col Stamford Cartwright, the Squadron Honorary Colonel brought the ornament to Antiques Roadshow on behalf of the Squadron, now known as B (Staffs, Warwicks. and Worcs Yeo.) Sqn The Royal Yeomanry.
”Because it’s a Faberge it’s obviously a very special piece but it is more of a focal point for the members of the regiment and to the current serving soldiers.
“It reminds them not only of the sacrifice of fallen comrades but also that there is a continuation; despite the fact that uniforms change over the years and soldiers come and go, there is a focal point that is forever there. It forms a bond for comrades right the way through from the 1900s.”
Jewellery expert Mr Munn added: “I think it means everything to the Squadron
“The Faberge flower is in the form of a pear blossom, which was the emblem and cap badge of The Worcestershire Yeomanry (The Queen’s Own Worcestershire Hussars). Lady Dudley gave them an everlasting pear blossom as an everlasting tribute to the regiment.”
Making a £1m valuation was a tense moment for Mr Munn, who has been on Antiques Roadshow since 1989.
“To make a judgement of that enormity is a tricky thing to do so I’m not going to pretend it wasn’t pressurised. But what a delight to do it and I’m absolutely thrilled.”
“It is a marvellous moment to make history on Antiques Roadshow. I’ve been doing it for decades and I never really expected to see an object of this calibre come along.
“I’m known to be an enthusiast of Faberge’s work and to have a towering masterpiece by him was thrilling beyond imagination.
“When we have those masterpieces in front of us, and they are extraordinary rare, it’s pulse making. It’s our job on Antiques Roadshow to transfer that excitement… and it wasn’t difficult in this case because my pulse was racing at the sight of it.”
Col Stamford Cartwright, Squadron Honorary Colonel said the valuation is staggering and the Squadron and Regiment were “over the moon” to find out its value.
“Because you grew up with it you tend to treat it as part of the furniture. The regiment has got some huge silver pieces, which absolutely tower over this little thing!”
The Faberge flower joins the Angel of the North and FA Cup to be the only three items to be valued at £1m in Antiques Roadshow’s 40-year history.
The show was filmed at the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley, West Midlands on Wednesday 21 June 2017.