BBC Antiques Roadshow guest gobsmacked as expert reveals truth about 'royal' necklace

Antiques Roadshow guest
Antiques Roadshow guest -Credit:No credit

An Antiques Roadshow guest was astounded when the programme's expert unveiled the astonishing history behind a "beautiful" necklace she had inherited.

The participant brought the amethyst piece to expert Sarah Churgin, explaining its connection to famed socialite Lillie Langtry.

Explaining the provenance of the necklace, the guest shared: "I have an amethyst necklace that was my husband's great-grandmother's. I inherited it last year from my mother-in-law when she died. All we know is that she bought it at auction in 1929 in Atlantic City and it was the year that Lillie Langtry died and it's supposed to have been one of her necklaces."

She continued, detailing her family's affinity for the gemstone: "She loved amethyst, because we have an amethyst letter opener, amethyst rings, she was really excited about amethyst which I read Lillie Langtry also was."

Despite not knowing the original purchase price, the guest held documentation suggesting the necklace's previous ownership by Langtry, reports the Mirror.

Churgin delved into Langtry's history, describing her as a celebrated "social darling" and actress who relocated to London in 1876 following the end of her first marriage. The expert recounted how in 1877, Langtry caught the attention of Edward VII, Prince of Wales, at a dinner party.

"He manoeuvred to sit next to her and it began a relationship that lasted many years", Churgin remarked.

"They were lovers for three years and then she got pregnant with another man's child, now interestingly, Edward VII purchased a house for her in Bournemouth and actually paid for her confinement in Paris. She ended up with property in California and she died in Monaco in 1929."

During the appraisal, Churgin began to suggest that the necklace might not be as it seemed. She continued: "And here in June in 1929, Harold A Brand has an auction that includes her jewellery from which your husband's great-grandmother purchased this necklace. So we have to ask ourselves, how does a royal piece, a piece of royal provenance, end up in New Jersey? ".

"I take a look at what paperwork is represented, because provenance is very important, but I have a couple of questions here. One of the questions is, why is this royal piece remounted? ".

"In the description, the original yellow gold mounting that Edward gave for this amethyst which is a beautiful amethyst but he gave her this amethyst in a yellow gold mounting, has been remounted."

She concluded by saying that it was a "really good amethyst" but the cut was from a later period. "Unfortunately, we find in 1949 that Harold A Brand is brought up on multiple conspiracy charges, for conspiracy of fraud."

"Oh my goodness! " the guest exclaimed, visibly surprised by the necklace's real history. "So we have our doubts," Churgin added.

"But what we do have here is a really nice amethyst necklace from the art deco period. King Edward gave jewellery to his lovers and to his wife by famous makers, this piece does not have any maker marks on it."

Churgin then noted that the box that it came packed in was "fairly commercial quality" for that era.

"So the case is not fancy enough either! " the guest joked in response. "Had it been given by Edward VII to Lillie Langtry, it would be one thing but nonetheless, a fair auction value would be $3,000 to $4,000," Churgin wrapped up.

"If it had royal provenance, we can double that price."