Antiques Roadshow guest shares fear over stunning opal necklace worth thousands

Antiques Roadshow guest shares fear over stunning opal necklace worth thousands

July 3, 2022

Antiques Roadshow: Expert inspects colours on opal necklace

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During a recent episode of BBC’s Antiques Roadshow, Fiona Bruce and the team visited the Ulster Folk Museum near Belfast, where an array of treasures were found. Expert John Benjamin was particularly impressed when he stumbled across a guest’s black opal necklace, which she admitted she had never worn over fears of ruining it.

Discussing what he thought of the necklace on his first look, John expressed: “Inside this very unprepossessing cardboard box is an absolutely wonderful pendant.

“What an opal that is! It is perfect. With opals, you often get cracks and chips and bits of wear, but I have looked at it, but there is no sort of cracks and chips there at all.

“So let’s hear a little bit more about the background,” he said, handing over to the guest.

She explained: “So this was gifted to me for my 18th birthday, from a very dear family friend who we have always affectionately called Nana.

“The story that I was told was that her mother went to Australia at the end of the late 1800’s early 1900’s and she came back to Belfast with some beautiful opals, and they were made into this jewellery.

“As an 18-year-old, you appreciate the beauty, but it is not really your taste, but I just kept it, but I am too afraid to wear it because it is just so beautiful.”

“I can understand that,” John agreed. “But of course, it is meant to be worn. Let’s talk about the stone from South Australia, they are called black opals although it has got this deep vibrant blue colour.

“The trick about them is to see how many plays of rainbow colour they have got, quite a few, and it is very well distributed.

“It is a very vibrant stone indeed, and it is a very unusual shape, and the reason I think it is triangular is I think it follows the shape of the stone in the native rock, and it has got it all.

“How old is the piece of jewellery? It is around about 1915, it is arts and crafts. I am going to take it out of the box to show the back of it because the back of it is actually plain gold.

“It is stamped at the back and with opals sometimes, rarely they put a backplate of darkening material to make them look a slightly better colour.

“I don’t think you need to worry, I have looked at it very carefully with my lens, and I think it is absolutely right. I am very keen on this, so ever had it valued?”

She admitted: “When I received it, we had it valued, it was maybe about £700?”

Impressed with the initial amount, he exclaimed: “Perfectly justifiable figure,” before he gave his own valuation: “Would you rather I said £4,000 today?”

Stunned at the amount he had just given her, she stood gobsmacked before replying: “Yes, that would be very good!”

“I think it is a really beautiful opal, and I see a lot of opals on the Antiques Roadshow and boy, this one talks to me, it is a good one, thank you very much indeed,” John concluded.

She replied: “You are welcome, thank you too!”

Also, in the episode, Justin Croft challenged Fiona to put three books by famous Irish authors in order of value.

Mark Smith got a rare chance to see medals awarded to participants in the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916.

While Fiona meets the Armagh Rhymers, a folk group who dress in bizarre wicker costumes and preserve the ancient tradition of storytelling known as mumming.

Antiques Roadshow is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

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