June 14, 2000 at the King Street premises of Christies auctions – sale #6325/lot#127 – the price realised amounted to $28,332.00 + the 17% vat.
Surprise, the conch shell was scooped from the pacific ocean in a fishing net near (K’gari) Fraser Island in March 1990. It took ten years to get to market, I wonder how many hands it passed through on the way? Got to wonder who purchased it and what they have done with it . . . sitting in a safety deposit box or set to be worn? Barbara wonders how she would have responded to the owner’s brief?
It is a common misconception that pearls are only produced by the pearl oyster. Some of the largest and most beautiful pearls, known as ‘melo’ pearls, are produced by the Melo Volute. These marine gastropods tend to congregate in deep waters but numbers are limited due to ecological influences. The pearls are produced within the protective polished interior of the shell, which accounts for the well-matched characteristic fibrous surface and the orange hue of both the pearl and the shell.
There is a lack of information on these gems, partly due to the fact that, for centuries, they have had greater appreciation in the East rather than the West. Christies believed that this was the first time a ‘melo’ pearl and its host have been offered together as a complete entity in a sale – subsequently realising a further £6,000.00 over their high estimate figure.