Piece of the Week: The Extraterrestrial Lunar Necklace

AuctionsMar 31, 2023

Piece of the Week: The Extraterrestrial Lunar Necklace

Artisan Martin Roberts fashioned lunar meteorites into 48 beads to create this out-of-this-world necklace.

20230331_Piece of the Week Lunar Necklace.jpg
The “Lunar” necklace was the top lot of a recent Christie’s auction, selling above estimate for $201,600. (Image credit: Christie’s Images Ltd. 2023)
This Piece of the Week pick is reminiscent of one of the most memorable scenes in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” when George Bailey asks his sweetheart Mary Hatch what she wished for, but she won’t say.

“What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word, and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down,” he offers in a goofy, albeit romantic, gesture.

The “Lunar” necklace does just that and is much more wearable.

It was the top lot of Christie’s recent online sale, “Deep Impact: Lunar, Martian, and Other Rare Meteorites,” selling for $201,600, topping pre-sale estimates.

The necklace is a single strand of lunar beads, which are just what they sound like—pieces of the moon.

The story of how these beads came to be is like a fairytale for space aficionados.

For starters, substances from the moon are some of the rarest on Earth. There’s less than 1400 kg of the moon known to be on Earth, just about enough to fit in the trunk of a large SUV, said Christie's.

Apollo astronauts brought back nearly 400 kg of that material via moon rocks, while the rest of it comes from lunar meteorites, or pieces of the moon that fall off the moon’s surface after an asteroid impact. (That’s also how the moon gets most of its craters.)

The lunar meteorites used to craft these beads were discovered in 2017 by nomads in the desert, specifically the northwest African corridor of the Sahara Desert. 

 Related stories will be right here … 

Darryl Pitt, curator of the Macovich Collection of Meteorites, came up with the idea and consigned the piece.

“Today, we set a benchmark result for extraterrestrial jewelry with the landmark sale of the Lunar Necklace,” said Pitt. “This necklace is a game-changer in the market.”

Artisan Martin Roberts, known as a master sphere fabricator, fashioned the material into beads.

As with diamonds and colored gemstones, the cutting and polishing of lunar meteorites leads to a lot of the material being lost in the process, said Christie’s.

It features 48 beads, each around 8.25 mm in diameter and weighing 3.66 carats, fastened with a white gold clasp.

As with similar varieties of meteorite, the beads contain fragments of olivine, pigeonite, augite, ilmenite and signature white anorthite, incredibly rare substances on Earth though common on the moon, said the auction house.

A majority of the available specimens, because of their rarity, are housed in museums and research institutions, so the opportunity to wear pieces of the moon is extra special.

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