Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

This 7in (18cm) high piece of jewelled goldwork, pictured right, pierced and set with turquoises, rubies, emeralds and rose diamonds, is a Torah crown and it set a new auction high for a piece of Judaica metalwork, selling at $1.2m (£754,715).

As well is its decorative foliate motifs, it is set in diamonds with the Hebrew initials standing for Mishnaic expression used on Torah ornaments (C)rown of (T)orah, (C)rown of (P)riesthood, (C)rown of (K)ingship, and additional fine details include cherubs’ wings and six diamond-set eagle-shaped bell holders. It also retains its original gilt-tooled red leather case.

Its closest comparison in form and quality of workmanship is a very similar Torah crown in a New York private collection which has long been ascribed to the Court of the Hassidic Master, Rabbi Israel Ruzhin (1797-1850) known as the Ruzhiner Rebbe. The family history of the private collector who consigned Sotheby’s crown independently supports the same connection to the Ruzhiner Rebbe’s Court and it is traditionally thought to have been given to Rabbi Nachum, one of Rabbi Israel’s six sons. Both crowns are thought to have been made by the same goldsmiths/jewellers c.1825, possibly in Vienna.

Collector Arthur Gilbert bought Sotheby’s crown and it is now part of the Gilbert Collection, most of which will be on display in the new museum at Somerset House which opens in May next year.

“It is a new departure for the collection,” said curator Timothy Schroder last week “but Mr Gilbert has been looking for pieces of Judaica for some time”.