Copper to Cartier
Sarah Churgin “On Tour” With Antiques Roadshow
12 July 2016
Director of Rago’s Jewelry Department, Sarah Churgin describes herself as a ‘copper to Cartier’ appraiser whose love of rare and beautiful objects extends far beyond gems and jewels. We caught up with Sarah shortly after her return from filming for the Antiques Roadshow Summer Tour in Orlando, Florida to discuss her experiences on this hit PBS show.
How long have you been serving as an appraiser for Antiques Roadshow?
Five years. My first appearance aired in 2011.
Were you a fan of Antiques Roadshow prior to appearing on it?
Absolutely! I would watch Antiques Roadshow with antique dealer friends of mine. We’d try to guess the value of the appraised object and see who could come closest. It was a game for us.
What do you think makes Antiques Roadshow so interesting?
It’s the real deal. Most other similar shows are staged; the material and specialists are lined up in advance and brought to the site of the "random" appraisal. The stories and people that we tape are genuine small-town to big-city Americans who carry in treasured items about which they most often have little or no idea.
What do you like best about appearing on Antiques Roadshow?
The fantastic level of on-set cooperation and the lasting relationships I’m able to form. During filming you have all these appraisers from all these competing auction houses, but after a day of appraising shoulder to shoulder we’re no longer competitors, we’re comrades.
Is there anything you dislike about appearing on Antiques Roadshow?
It’s terrifying! Even after five years I still get terrible nerves when the cameras start rolling. My fight or flight response kicks in. Fortunately, the Roadshow production team is very good at what they do and are able to edit out all the nervousness.
What is the most memorable item you’ve appraised for Antiques Roadshow?
A couple of years ago a piece came in, a round, golden disk about the size of a wine coaster with a mandala pattern of rubies, emeralds and sapphires set into the surface. It had a loop attached to the back, indicating it was meant to be worn as an adornment, but it was much too large to be a brooch or other functional piece of jewelry. I couldn’t make sense of its function, but I couldn’t just let it go, so I continued to think on it well after the cameras stopped rolling. It wasn’t until later that night, while lying in bed that it came to me. Of course the disk was too big to be worn by a person, I realized, because it was meant to be worn by an elephant! It was a ‘Eureka’ moment. I couldn’t wait for the next filming so I could share what I’d discovered with my fellow appraisers.
Can you tell us something about filming for Antiques Roadshow that viewers might not know?
Most viewers probably don’t realize just how much work goes into filming an episode. The appraisers are on set from seven in the morning until eight or nine at night and we’re going full steam the whole time. Most of us don’t even take lunch breaks; we just work, work, work until the last person files out. And our job doesn’t stop there! We’ll sometimes continue to research a particular item for days, even weeks after filming, and will inform the producers of the show of any new discoveries we make.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Support your local PBS station!
Tune into Antiques Roadshow on your local PBS affiliate to experience the drama of discovery yourself. And be sure to check back with Rago’s blog throughout the summer as we continue our interview series exploring the role our appraisers play on this hit show and the truly unique experiences they have on tour.
Looking to have your fine or antique jewelry appraised for auction? Get in touch with Sarah Churgin.