Elegance Personified

Jewelry from the Estate of Carol Prisant

Carol Prisant wearing her pink sapphire ring and Angela Cummings earrings. Photo courtesy of Annie Watt.

Rago presents jewelry from the estate of antique dealer, writer, and editor Carol Prisant (1938–2021).

Ms. Prisant had an eye for art and antiques from a very young age and was entirely self-taught. After marrying and moving to New York with her husband, she worked as a decorative arts vendor in the 26th Street Antiques Market and participated yearly in the Manhattan Antique Show in addition to owning Locust Valley Antiques in Long Island for 10 years. In 1989, she became the New York editor of the British magazine The World of Interiors, a position she would hold until 2020. Actively involved in the world of antiques and interior design, she sat on the board of the Raynham Hall Museum on Long Island and the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities. She was also a member of the Manhattan-based Appraisers Association of America. Her writing became a staple in these circles. Prisant wrote articles for Martha Stewart Living, House Beautiful, and New York magazine and was the author of several books including Antiques Roadshow Primer and Antiques Roadshow Collectibles. Her antiquing column “Good, Better, Best” for House Beautiful would go on to be adapted into a book of its own.

A longtime friend of Ms. Prisant, Christine Pittel, remarked about Prisant’s interior design skills that she “curated her own environment like a work of art.” The same can be said for her impeccable taste in fine jewels. From a stunning sapphire ring in her favorite hue, pink, to elegant brooches and refined earrings, bracelets, and necklaces, her sense of style and eye for quality is evident in every piece from her collection.

I met Carol Prisant during my early days as an appraiser on Antiques Roadshow. I initially knew her as an inquisitive and factually concise reporter for The Antiques Roadshow Primer, but a friendship soon blossomed from that connection. You could talk to Carol, and understand that her sense of propriety and connection to the truth of a story was nothing short of reliable. We eventually became friends, bonding over personal loss, and Carol was ultimately someone with whom I came to share a treasured relationship. It is with deep regret that I heard about her death, and with gratitude and humility that we’ve been entrusted with her collection of fine jewelry.  

—David Rago


Founded in 1884 by Léon Breitling, Swiss luxury watchmaker Breitling is best known for its precision-made chronometers designed for aviators. Breitling founded his company with the goal of creating watches and timing instruments of superior accuracy to keep up with the rapidly progressing fields of industry, science, and sports. His primary obsession, however, was aviation. Pilots were in need of an easy-to-use timer and pocket watches, en vogue at the time, were too awkward to use in the cockpit. Breitling’s innovative solution was the world’s first wrist-worn chronograph with a push piece separate to the crown. It became a popular adornment both in the air and on the ground.

Breitling also gained recognition for their aeronautical timing instruments and were contracted to make chronographs for the Royal Air Force in WWII. The company was able to navigate changing tastes and styles and by the 1950s were producing slimmer, elegant watches for men as well as timepieces for women, an oft-overlooked market at that time. They continued to also design new chronographs, with Willy Breitling (Léon’s grandson) designing their iconic Navitimer in 1952. One of their watches even went to space in 1962 when Lt. Commander Scott Carpenter orbited the earth three times while wearing a Navitimer Cosmonaute.

The company remained a family-owned business up until 1979 and continues to be an innovative and desirable brand for aviators, divers, captains, and lovers of exceptional design around the world.

Auction Results Breitling