The Swiss Gemmological Institute SSEF has successfully age-dated the historic Ana Maria pearl using a radiocarbon (14C) procedure, to between the 16th and mid-17th century CE. The result fits the documented historic provenance of the pearl, once owned by Ana María de Sevilla y Villanueva, XIV Marquise of Camarasa (1828-1861).
The pearl is presumed to have been discovered during the Spanish conquest of the Americas in the 16th century. According to Christie’s Geneva jewellery expert Marc Lunel, this is the first time that the 14C procedure has been used on a historic natural pearl.
The Ana Maria pearl is a slightly baroque drop-shaped natural saltwater pearl of 30.24 carats, set as the detachable drop of a brooch, which contains an invisible watch in a 1960s design by Audemars Piguet. It is due to be offered at Christie's Geneva as lot 264 in the upcoming Magnificent Jewels auction on May 15, and carries a pre-sale estimate of CHF800,000-CHF1,200,000 ($786,000-$1,180,000).
SSEF Director Michael S. Krzemnicki said, "We are honoured to be able to provide additional scientific evidence to the historic provenance of this important natural pearl. We are in the process of further developing radiocarbon analysis and other scientific techniques to verify the historic provenance of antique jewellery and iconic natural pearls.”
The 14C research and services offered by SSEF are done in partnership with the Ion Beam Physics Laboratory at ETH Zurich university.