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Ear-ring sale offers gems from history

Ear-rings of every conceivable material, including human hair, lion claw, tropical beetle and iron are included in the first ear-ring sale to be held by Christie's, writes Marianne Macdonald The sale bridges three centuries of ear-ring design, from the 18th century to 1960. The 200 pairs on offer illustrate changing fashions as they adapted to hair and clothes styles or were inspired by the changing intellectual climate.

The most curious example in the sale is a pair of early 19th century plaited drop earrings made from human hair, estimated to fetch pounds 150- pounds 200. The fashion for such mourning jewellery - often made of out of locks from deceased relatives - began in the early 1800s, when child labour was often used. The 19th century fascination with natural forms, partly the result of scientific progress and exploration, inspired novelty ear-rings such as the mid-19th century pair of real tropical beetles, expected to sell for pounds 400- pounds 600; the lion's claw ear-rings ( pounds 150- pounds 200) and the gold fly ear-rings ( pounds 500- pounds 700).

The sale on 1 November also features another fashion, created by the industrial revolution, for ear-rings shaped as buckets, pulleys or anvils, and the taste for arrows, amphorae and cupids inspired by 19th-century archaeological discoveries in Knossos, Rhodes and Melos.

One of the most valuable examples at the sale will be the mid-19th century rock crystal, emerald and ruby girandole drop ear-rings estimated to fetch pounds 800- pounds 1,000.

Other beautiful items include the gold and blue topaz multi-drop ear-rings with enamel decoration and imitation pearl ( pounds 300- pounds 400) and the enameled Austro-Hungarian drop ear-rings - offered with a similar pair at a guide price of pounds 100- pounds 200.

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