Antiques Roadshow expert warns guest about broken item after huge valuation

During and episode of BBC's Antiques Roadshow, a guest brought in a Victorian brooch to be valued by jewellery expert John Benjamin. The item was given to her by an aunt, but appeared to be in bad condition.

John identified the brooch as a Castellani by Alessandro Castellani, a Roman jeweller best known for his archaeological style.

He told the guest: “You have brought along this brooch, and I have to be honest with you, it is distressed.”

After pointing at a broken segment of the artefact, he continued: “In the grand scheme of things, I doubt very much I would have given this a second look.”

He went on to point out unique features of the brooch, including the shape and its resemblance to a ram’s head.

The guest explained that it was given to her by a member of her family, that she didn’t know where it originated from and guessed it was Victorian.

John agreed with her and clarified: “It is 19th century, made in about 1865. It’s a good example of what we call revivalist jewellery.”

Revivalist jewellery is a style that imitates the specific traits of a style of jewellery from a particular period in time.

Many Victorian era revivalist jewellery makers had a taste for Ancient Egypt in the late 1800s, but John went on to voice his disdain: “It is in worse than good condition. It has broken off, it is a bit worn, a bit bent, a bit tired and a bit miserable."

After the guest apologised about the brooch’s poor condition, John noticed a significant detail in the antique.

He pointed out two back to back letter Cs, which is the monogram of Fortunato Pio Castellani, he explained.

“One of the great names. 19th century revivalist goldsmith working in Rome and producing this kind of jewellery,” said John.

He told the guest that jewellery made by Castellani is extremely collectable and that despite its "less than perfect condition", it could still fetch a pretty penny.

He issued a warning to the guest: “Get that restoration done. You’re talking the best part of £1,000 for it, just because of that Castellani mark.”

The guest was shocked and went on to tell a story about the brooch: “I lost it some years ago. I put an ad in the local press with a reward and somebody rang, they had found it.”

“It’s meant to be, what a find,” replied John.

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