From my last post, I mentioned going to New York at the beginning of the week to buy a book at Tiffany & Co and to see the previews of the auctions at Christie’s and Sotheby’s. As I wait for the dust to settle on the auctions, I want to point out a piece I saw while at Christie’s that I had seen before. I went to view the Exceptional Watches at Christie’s after seeing the Magnificent Jewels. I like historical pieces and found a few watches that were owned by famous people. One was a pocket watch owned by former President Franklin D. Roosevelt; the other a Cartier tank watch owned by former first lady Jackie Kennedy.
You may remember this watch featured prominently in articles a little over a year ago when it was auctioned in June of 2017. It also made headlines when the highest bidder was identified as Kim Kardashian. I will be honest, that news did not make me happy. Seeing this watch that belonged to a classy, dignified woman now owned by a woman that would not know class or how to spell it if her life depended on it was a bit depressing. Imagine my surprise and delight to see the watch back in the case at Christie’s on Monday!
I shared the find with my friend and fellow blogger Jill of Everything Just So, who wrote an amazing article on Jackie Kennedy’s Cartier watch when it was auctioned last year, click here to read her piece and see some great detailed photos!
I went back online to see if I could find more details to Jackie Kennedy’s Cartier watch and came up short. I decided to write Christie’s about seeing the watch and got the answer I was looking for. It was for sale but is not being auctioned. It is going through Christie’s Private Sales to find a buyer. I would need to contact a specialist if I was interested in purchasing it, I did not go any further in my contacts, so I do not know what price the seller is looking for or why it is for sale.
Here are some details from the auction in June 2017.
As you can see the watch went for over 3 times the high estimate (buyer’s premium included).
If this was an investment piece, I feel it is a little early to turn it back to the market. I have looked at some articles on investing in watches. This one answers the question Are Watches a Good Investment? I know that luxury goods like handbags are a way to diversify your investments. The other article I looked at lists 12 Things to Consider before Investing in Watches. The last point being patience when selling.
Let me know your thoughts on Jackie Kennedy’s Cartier watch. Do you invest in watches or other luxury goods? Return for more Data in the Rough, as I look at the auction results with a deeper analysis next week!
As summer comes to an end Fall auctions are fast approaching. Instead of the auctions taking place around the world more auctions of Fine Jewelry are happening online. Read more to see how Christie’s and Sotheby’s are adapting to the change in technology and what this means for the public.
I don’t go too often to New York in the Summer, it’s hot, crowded and the jewelry industry slows down over this season. What I do look forward to is my treks up to the Big Apple to see some major bling in the Fall.
In 2016 I went to both Christie’s and Sotheby’s for their September Fine Jewelry Auctions. Christie’s had a preview of their online jewels and the Private Collection of President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan, that was sold in NYC.
A few highlights from Mrs. Reagan’s Collection:
Sotheby’s had plenty to see too. With previews of upcoming auctions happening in London and New York.
A few highlights:
Last year neither auction house had previews in NYC. Sotheby’s had two auctions in London, one their Fine Jewelry and the other the collection of actress Vivian Leigh. I took a closer look at that auction in my previous post here.
Christie’s had one jewelry auction, but it was online in September 2017. This year again no September auctions that occur offline for these two auction houses. Sotheby’s has one general fine jewelry auction, one that is selling loose diamonds and the last highlighting one Italian designer. All these auctions occurring online.
Is this a trend that will continue?
Yes, I think more auctions will be having an online presence. Sotheby’s has also tried removing the buyer’s premium to encourage people to try online with out the hidden fees. I am anxious to see how the auctions do with collectors and how smaller auction houses will adapt.
How will this affect the way jewelry is previewed at auctions?
I still think their will be previews and auctions to see the items and handle them. It is very difficult to take size into account when looking online and some gems like opal are hard to get good photos of.
For those that post on social media and blog I think that a time will come that your following and status will play a bigger part in getting to participate in the previews. For now, I have an auction preview in Boston at the end of the month I plan to go to and I’ll be heading to NYC in October not for a preview but for a fun trip that I will share later.
Return for more on the upcoming online auctions and other topics in the jewelry industry dealing with business and marketing. Thank you for reading my article.
‘I have learned how to live, how to be IN the world and OF the world, and not just to stand aside and watch. And I will never, never again run away from life. Or from love, either.’ ~ Audrey Hepburn (Sabrina 1954)
Remember watching Sabrina and hearing Ms. Hepburn’s voice speak these lines as she is writing to her father? Maybe you remember the first sign of her up in the morning peering into the Tiffany window with her long black dress, pearls and sunglasses in Breakfast at Tiffany’s? No matter the movie Hepburn became that part and it was fantastic! In late September her family auctioned off some memorabilia, personal items and photographs of the late Audrey Hepburn at Christie’s in London. Another Hollywood legend had her items auctioned that week too, you can read my analysis here.
I had some assumptions about this auction and in my analysis, you can draw your own opinions about the sale. Let’s start off with the types of items sold and location of the auction.
Types of Lots
I condensed the lots to a total of 10 types/ categories to better analyze. Fashion is for clothes, outfits and fashion accessories are shoe, hats, gloves, etc. Personal accessories included luggage, makeup cases, etc.
In contrast to Vivien Leigh’s auction, Hepburn’s was more focused on her Hollywood persona. Many of her lots were photographs and scripts from various movie roles. Which is why I was disappointed in the location of the auction.
The sale and preview resided in London, England. There was not even a tour of Hepburn’s key photos and movie memorabilia. Hepburn was Hollywood royalty, even though she lived abroad I think there was a devoted enough fan base in the United States for it to have made sense to hold the auction here instead of London. There was interest worldwide naturally but in Hepburn’s case not enough to sell all her items like Vivien Leigh.
Sold versus Unsold
Note: I am only looking at the live auction not the separate online auction that went into early October.
Below is a bar graph of the sold and unsold lots by type. The gray bar to the right with the percentage marks how much out of 100% did not sell.
Only 4 categories had a lot or two that did not sell, those were personal accessories, jewelry, fashion accessories and fashion. To get a better idea of the amount which was small, I have a table with the count of what sold versus unsold by lot.
You can see the biggest types sold were Photographs, followed by Documents/Scripts. This auction was not Hepburn the person but of the movie star. Jewelry had the highest number of items unsold (to be fair it is only 3 items). So, what went unsold and why?
Below are the 8 unsold lots with type, lot number and description.
I am focusing on the jewelry for the interest of this post.
Hepburn’s collection was of costume jewelry except for a few items I will mention later, so the amount it would sell for was not expected to be extremely high. I was a little surprised to see these 3 unsold until I looked at the pearl necklace lots, they are just strands of costume pearls, very basic with no special sentiment tied to them. The colored glass bead set was one of the first lots up. I loved the colors of this set!
A closer examination saw how deteriorated they were and would need major restoration if possible. Something to think about when listing, is this piece in good condition or is there significance to the piece that can be translated to a story? So, what did sell?
Top Lots at Auction
Hepburn’s items still did very well of the 246 that did sell 90% were above the high estimate and many were in the 1000’s for the percentage above calculation. I removed the buyer’s premium for the calculation of the percent above high estimate. Here are the top 5 lots (in USD).
No surprise Breakfast at Tiffany’s lots made it to the top. The jewelry item is my focus for this part.
The Always bangle was given to Hepburn by Steven Spielberg, for her role as Hap in her last film the 1989 film, “Always”. Spielberg wrote to Hepburn about how she inspired him and loved her in, “Wait Until Dark” and “Two for the Road”. After the filming her present Hepburn with this bangle inscribed on the inside, You are my “inspiration” Always, Steven. Outside is engraved, Audrey. It’s no wonder that this piece sold so well!
What were your favorite Audrey Hepburn movies? What items were you watching for the auction? If you were able to go to the viewing or have any comments, please share! I hope you enjoyed my take on the auction. Return soon for more Data in the Rough!
There was a saying were you a Jackie or a Marilyn? Well in the spirit of this week’s auctions I will alter the question by asking are you an Audrey or Vivien? This week in London the auctions of items belonging to Vivien Leigh and Audrey Hepburn are taking place. As the format goes I will mention a few items to look for, then check back for the analysis of the results later in the week.
This auction focuses on the life of Vivian Leigh. The personal items include paintings, gifts, clothes and jewelry. You get a sense of her life and tastes through the auction being held at Sotheby’s on the 26th. If you follow fine jewelry on social media you may have seen this brooch belonging to Vivien.
This diamond bow brooch made in the 19th century is predicted to go between 25,000-35,000 British pounds or $33,038 – $46,253. I think that is a good estimate. The rest of the jewelry estimates feel low.
What to watch
For the jewelry, I have 3 items that I am particularly interested in the results, in addition to the brooch mentioned. The first the costume bracelet Vivien wore on the movie, Ship of Fools. The estimate is $132-$198. I know the gems and pearls are synthetic but it was in several scenes from her last film.
Next is the ‘Eternally’ ring, a token of love from the passionate affair and marriage of Leigh and husband Laurence Oliver. Inside is inscribed, Laurence Olivier Vivien Eternally. Thought to go for $529 – $793. I say there must be an error in the predictions but we’ll see.
Finally, my favorite piece, the chrysoberyl demi-parure. The stones are beautiful and the earrings are screw back! As most of her earrings are. This is what I’d buy if I could. The estimate is $5,286 — $7,929.
The auction of Ms. Hepburn’s items tell the story of an icon. Almost like opening a time capsule you are transported back remembering Roman Holiday and running around with Cary Grant in Charade! Lots of photos on sets, scripts, accessories and mostly costume jewels. Christie’s is focusing on her clothes and style for this auction being held on the 27th. An online auction is going on now and ends the 4th of October. I am just focusing on the live auction for this post.
A gift from Steven Spielberg to Audrey in 1989. A Tiffany & Co. bangle inscribed, You are my “ inspiration” Always, Steven. Original box and note included. Estimate $4,065 – $6,775.
Gripoix clip on earrings made of glass and faux pearl. They are unusual and colorful, set to sell between $1,355 – $2,032.
A paste tiara that was worn for the premiere of The Nun’s Story and in the film Two for the Road. I am always interested to see movie props on sale. What fans will spend is fun to guess and learn the result!
That is why this final piece, trying to keep it even since I pick four of Ms. Leigh’s items, is another item of interest. A movie prop from my favorite film of Hepburn’s Roman Holiday! A gold pendant, that I will have to rewatch the movie to see if I can get some good stills of. This would be my choice if I got only one item of her jewelry to keep.
Anyone following either or both sales? What was a favorite movie of either of these stars? I have been waiting many weeks for these sales and after tonight we will get to see what the world still thinks of these Hollywood legends. Return soon for the analysis only found on Data in the Rough!
April has arrived and with it some amazing auctions! Hong Kong is the major auction destination this week for Sotheby’s. If you have not checked out their items for the Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite Auction, you should! That Auction is on Tuesday afternoon, but the real show is the diamond that is coming back on the market for a single auction in the evening. You may have seen or heard of the Pink Star. (Pictured above courtesy of Sotheby’s) This internally flawless pink diamond is a massive 59.6 carats was up auctioned off in November 2013 at their Geneva sale. The winning bid was $83.2 million dollars but the buyer soon backed out. The reason for the buyer’s change of heart? They could not afford it. Sotheby’s then acquired the gem and now is hoping that their investment pays off. You can read more on that 2013 auction here.
It was a disappointing end I’m sure for the auction house. Christie’s had sold the Princie Diamond, a 34.9 carat pink diamond in their April auction for $39,323,750 (buyer’s premium included). I saw that one up close, the florescence was amazing. The glow unlike anything I had ever seen! (Picture of diamond below courtesy of Christie’s)
2015 would again bring mixed results for large colored diamonds at the auction house. Sotheby’s again faced disappointment at their Magnificent Jewels sale held in April 2015 at New York, with the Shirley Temple Blue Diamond failing to make the minimum estimate.
Then Sotheby’s achieved a notable success. The Sotheby’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels Auction in November 2015 saw the highest price paid for a blue diamond. The Blue Moon a 12.03 carat blue diamond sold for $48.4 million, having the highest price paid per carat for a blue diamond. Christie’s also had success in their November Geneva Magnificent Jewels Auction that year. They set the record for highest price per carat for a pink diamond. The Sweet Josephine (16.08 carats) sold for $28.5 million dollars. What is interesting is both diamonds that year were sold to buyers in Hong Kong.
So will this be the year that the Pink Star shines and leaves Sotheby’s with a great return on investment? It can go either way. On the one hand the economy has been a little shaky the past few months. On the other hand, jewelry is being looked at more seriously as an investment piece again. Town and Country had a great article on that here. Having the diamond sold at the Hong Kong auction is a smart move as that has had some major buyers in the past, mentioned above. Without knowing the estimate, it is harder to say if it will sell or not. People did bid on the Shirley Temple Blue Diamond they just did not meet the minimum required. I do not know how much Sotheby’s paid for the Pink Star, the minimum is anyone’s guess. There was no estimate listed the last time in was up for sale. I will be watching for it and commenting on my other social media channels. Have you seen the Pink Star? Do you think it will sell? Love to hear your thoughts! Thank you for reading and visit Data in the Rough again very soon for more!
I remember the day I went to see the Elizabeth Taylor Collection at Christie’s in New York. I made plans to see the collection on Friday December 9th. I waited in line as the auction house had the sidewalk lined up with people waiting in the cold to see this famous collection and remember the woman who was their guardian. I had to make plans over a month in advance. I usually wait to buy a ticket to NYC the night before I decide to leave, however this was an auction I have never experienced before and probably never will again.
It was unique for several reasons one being the history behind each piece, the second the amount of fine jewelry owned by one person and finally the fact I had to pay to attend an auction preview! Yes for those that did not see the Elizabeth Taylor Collection, you had to pay $30 plus tax AND…pick a time to reserve for your spot to see this collection. I have a piece of the email confirming my ticket below.
I signed up for a Christie’s account at the end of October so that on November 5 of 2011 I could be the 3rd transaction of thousands that would see this jewelry. Parts of the collection traveled around the US until it reached its final place which was Christie’s at Rockefeller Plaza.
It was an exciting day, as I mentioned above people were waiting in line for a turn to look at these amazing jewels. I had never seen so many fur coats in one place. The crowd was older but they were still awestruck at the wealth, beauty and lifestyle that was Elizabeth Taylor!
The Christie’s windows were dedicated to Elizabeth and her jewels. A shot below.
The First-Time I saw the Earrings
My time was called and I entered to find the jewels surround by glass with photos and stories of their role in Taylor’s life at every turn. The surround by glass is no surprise for an auction preview but there was no Christie’s assistant at any displays to let anyone try the gems on. The assistants were only at registers or walking to make sure everyone was where they should be. That was my only complaint for that day. Everything else was perfect the jewels were at times a bit gaudy for my taste were well crafted with the finest materials.
One item I truly loved were a pair of Sapphire Van Cleef and Arpel earrings. They have a mystery setting and were made in the 1980’s. They had that almost too over the top look, but the color was too beautiful not to go back a few more times to admire. I was also hoping maybe someone from Christie’s would walk by and let me get a closer look. I can still picture them suspended in the case. They were estimated to sell for $150,000-$200,000 and sold for $338,500!
Now, imagine my delight when I looked last month at the upcoming Christie’s auction and saw that these earrings were back on the auction block! The estimate now is $220,000-$300,000. I believe they will make that estimate if not exceed it. This is an item to watch but on Saturday when Christie’s had its preview I went with a goal to try them on.
The set up was a little different from the past the earrings were in a salon like setting and placed in a window. I had another fabulous blogger with me Jill from Everything Just So join me to see if we could try on the famed earrings. With luck the crowd had died down and we did get a chance to wear the earrings. They looked over the top at first but on they are light weight with a subtle sparkle from the sapphires.
There is an inspired version selling on QVC to benefit the Elizabeth Taylor Trust. The link is here if you are interested.
They are also featured in My Love Affair with Jewelry by Elizabeth Taylor
Getting a Second Chance
I was fortunate enough to make my bus on time to get to New York and to Christie’s where I was greeted by Jill from Everything Just So and her daughter. I saw the earrings displayed like a shop window display and proceeded to enter and ask if we could try on the earrings. Handling jewelry this expensive can be daunting but I had seen the earrings so much and wanted to wear them so badly that having the chance was a relief and so fun! See below!
The drops are removable but I was not going to push my luck on seeing them like that, besides the mystery setting sapphire drops are part of the glamour. My favorite color is blue if you couldn’t tell from my blue top. I can’t describe enough how amazing these earrings are and how great I felt wearing them for the brief time I had.
I also felt like trying the jewelry on was part of the joy Elizabeth got from her jewels. The stories I heard from online accounts, QVC and personal acquaintances was she was generous in letting others try on her jewelry. I finally had to take them off so that they could be put up and the assistant could help another person looking to try on a piece. The memory will stay with me forever and maybe I’ll get a chance to see them again! Come back for more stories about jewelry as I focus this month on Elizabeth Taylor the movie star, business woman and jewelry collector extraordinaire! Thank you for reading if you have a story or comment or have tried on some of Ms. Taylor’s jewelry I would love to hear about it!
What does the color red invoke in your mind? Does it bring up thoughts of passion, anger, evil, danger? For gemstones, rubies are considered, ‘the king of precious stones’. These stones are highly prized in cultures from the past and present. At auction these stones are also highly sought after. Jewels du Dour looked at the top rubies at auction for their July 2015 article. I want to update that and include some current rubies that have surpassed the cost per carat of the reigning champs. My table is below:
May of 2015 Sotheby’s topped the charts with the highest amount paid per carat at auction for their Sunrise Ruby Ring. An almost 26 carat ruby that brought in over $30 million for the final bid. The price per carat was over $1 million a first for an auction house to receive for a ruby. The Sunrise Ruby surpassed the highest amount per carat of $997,727 ($8.6 million total) that Sotheby’s received for the 8.62 Graff Ruby auctioned in November 2014. The record was not theirs for long, the Christie’s December auction sold a 15.04 carat ruby for over $18 million making the per carat $1,222,233 a little over $15,000 more per carat than Sotheby’s Sunset Ruby. Then another top selling ruby hit the Christie’s Auction House, a ruby ring by Verdura. I saw this ring at auction, it had a great color and the design was befitting a king,for only royalty could have afforded a ring this grand! I posted pictures that I took below!
It will be interesting to see who comes out on top for the next round of auctions. Diamonds both white and colored have been topping the news as major selling pieces, but I like watching the other precious gemstones go up for auction. If you have any quality rubies you are thinking about parting with it might be time to look into selling before the economy starts going into a recession. I personally feel the country is due for one soon.
Do you own any ruby rings? I have one given by a family member as an heirloom, not as pricey as above but it creates feelings of love and excitement for me! Thank you for reading my article. Sign up for my email above to keep updated! Also for the July birthdays or ruby lovers, the below photos are for you, rubies that I have seen at auction. Check back later for more from Data in the Rough!
Joan Rivers style was best described by her daughter Melissa as a ‘maximalist, more is more’. My memories of Joan Rivers, the celebrity were her larger than life style choices, her choice words and her fashion! Joan was doing standup, working on Fashion Police, publishing books, winning on the Apprentice…the list can go on.
This is only the one side of Joan that she showed to the world. She had another as a mother and grandmother. So when she passed away about 2 years ago, her daughter, Melissa, took the time to go over the estate and share her memories of her mother through the collection shown at Christie’s Auction House in New York City. The auction of her more expensive pieces is tomorrow but an online auction is going on now until the 23rd of June. I got to see a few pieces from her collection when visiting Christie’s a few weeks ago.
After getting a glimpse into her tastes and interests I found that even though her fashion style was not really my taste much of her jewelry was. I will highlight 3 designers from her New York auction and then look at her online jewels.
In March a small sample of her items were displayed to announce the upcoming auction in the summer at Christie’s. I glanced at some of her furniture and knick knacks and came across these beauties by none other than one of my favorite designers ever, Faberge!
The Star Sapphire pendant and Chalcedony brooch in the center were the pieces I saw in person, my photos were not too good, but the Christie’s photos show some of the detail. A fun fact about Joan she was a Faberge collector! To Joan, Faberge is what came to mind when you thought about the ultimate luxury. Joan and her family were of Russian descent so it is not surprising for that to be an aspirational brand to own. Another set of Faberge pieces I loved seeing were the picture frames.
The frame to the left is of Joan and Melissa, the man in the center frame, any guesses? That is Vincent Price (Melissa’s godfather) and the woman is her godmother a Hollywood star that I did not find the name of. These photos are what was actually in the frames that Joan used. Why not? The history is an aspect Joan loved as well as the beauty. Christie’s found a record of the lavender pillbox below belonging to Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, mother to Nicholas II the last Czar of Russia. Grandmother to Princess Anastasia for those that are familiar with the animated movie starring the voice of Meg Ryan.
The Lily of the Valley bowl to the left is the highlight of the Faberge collection in the exhibit. This rare carved nephrite stone designed with rose gold, pearls and diamonds is estimated to sell between $200,000-$300,000.
For more articles that I have written on Faberge click here.
Another designer Joan often wore was Iradj Moini. He is a fashion jewelry designer based in New York who has been in business since 1989. He had previously worked for Oscar De La Renta. His work was featured in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2006 for Iris Apfel’s exhibit. I had not heard of him but Joan seemed to enjoy his work.
One of the photos above shows Joan wearing the red beaded necklace on the far right.
I saw this necklace in the exhibit and had to know more…
This is a massive necklace all made with freshwater pearls. The center gem is a large amethyst surrounded by blue and orange topazes with diamonds. The designer Cesar Lim (Cezua was his nickname as a kid) graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. He started out in fashion design working at houses such as Anne Klein then transitioned into jewelry. He opened his first gallery in Beverly Hills, CA in 2009. That necklace is estimated to go between $3,000-$5,000.
Click here to go to Christie’s to see more of her private collection.
For those wanting a different style and a lower price point then check out Joan’s online auction. I was surprised again at her variety, online had more art nouveau, antique jewelry and chunky beaded necklaces.
See below for the antique and art nouveau pieces I found stunning.
These brooches range from high estimates of $1,500 to $6,000. The price is high but the quality and uniqueness is where the value in these pieces would be for me. Also the proceeds will go to charities Joan was involved with. To see more click here to be directed to her online auction. So go over to Christie’s and take a look at these treasures! Below are photos from the small exhibit I saw of her items. Please let me know your thoughts on this collection or Joan! Don’t hold back, you know Joan wouldn’t!
This month wraps up the summer auctions for fine jewelry in New York and Boston. As I was looking through the auction catalogs I saw a necklace in the sale of Christie’s jewels that had me take a second look at the description and mark it as a must see when I came to the auction house this past weekend. It was a beautiful multi- colored sapphire necklace. Shown below:
What had me take a second look was the designer…
That’s right, David Webb. The same David Webb whose other jewels in the same auction look like this:
No date is given, so it might have been a special commission. Either way I wanted to get a look at the necklace. I ended up having the chance to try it on!
It was spectacular! All those stones and colors! A closer view is below:
It got me thinking of what other designs Webb has produced that are not what would be considered his signature looks. So I wanted to play a quick game of guess the designer. I will put up two similar jewelry pieces and you guess which is the David Webb piece.
Pair #1: Amethyst flower earrings
The left or the right?
It is the left:
These earrings were found in the archives of Skinner Inc in Boston from an auction in 2006. These signed earrings went unsold. The earrings on the right are from a previous auction at Christie’s in 2013 that are unsigned and from the 1950s.
Pair #2: Butterfly Brooch
The David Webb brooch is on the left. This is from the Christie’s Magnificent Jewels Auction of 2012. This brooch sold for $20,000 and is signed. The brooch on the right is from Bulgari made in 1969 this brooch sold for $23,750 at the 2015 Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels Auction.
Pair #3: Pink Sapphire Earrings
The right pair is by David Webb. Sold at Christie’s in 2010. The pair on the left has Kunzite as well as pink sapphires and diamonds, made by Michael Youssoufian, sold at Christie’s in 2002.
Ready for a bonus round?
Bonus:18kt Gold Gem-set Day/Night Ear Pendants:
While searching for past pieces I saw a pair of earrings listed that I had seen somewhere before at another auction house and they did have the exact same design. The gem colors are different but they look like a very close match. So which is it?
The left is David Webb sold at Sotheby’s in 2014 and the right is Van Cleef & Arpels sold at Skinner in 2016. Both signed but no dates listed. Would love to know the story and original owners of these earrings. You don’t usually see copies like these from different houses. Any thoughts? Hope you enjoyed the quiz! I had a great time at Christie’s and look forward to seeing the results tomorrow!
May is almost over and there are only a few more major auctions before summer is here. So before May ends I want to look at the emeralds that went on auction in the 2015-2016 season. Emeralds are the birthstone for May but they are also the stones for celebrating a 20th or 35th anniversary. The interesting meaning behind emeralds is that they are called the ‘Stone of Successful Love’. ‘Emerald promotes friendship, balance between partners, and is particularly known for providing domestic bliss, contentment and loyalty. It was dedicated in the ancient world to the goddess Venus for its ability to insure security in love’.(CrystalVaults)
I will look at 4 auction houses: Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Bonhams, and Skinner. I have picked 3 emerald lots from each auction house, all for their beauty and design, and a few for their story.
The first piece to the left is an emerald necklace created in 1810, this was a major piece auctioned at the November Magnificent Jewels Auction in Geneva. It has a detailed and rich history behind it. This necklace belonged to royalty. This necklace was a wedding gift to Princess Hlne, whose family were descendants of Louis Philippe 1st, King of France. Princess Hlne ended up marrying Prince Emanuele Filiberto of Italy in 1895. This necklace also came with a tiara from her godfather. Gifts like these were traditional when both parties go into a union to strengthen the alliance between their countries. Emeralds seem like an appropriate gift considering their meaning. The princess became involved with the Red Cross in Italy during World War I and with the turmoil royal families were enduring at this time the necklace stayed out of sight. The princess died in 1951 and the necklace and tiara then were in the possession of Sybil Sassoon, Marchioness of Cholmondeley. When that woman died in 1989 the jewels were auctioned and this necklace made another appearance 25 years later. This necklace was estimated to go between $1,500,000 – $2,500,000 and made the estimate with a final price of $2,625,522 (buyer’s premium included). The necklace now starts another chapter in it’s exciting story!
The piece in the middle is an emerald, onyx and diamond brooch by Graff. I chose this piece because of the design and appearance of this bird of paradise. The emerald is about 11.18 carats and from Columbia. This item was auctioned at the Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels Sale in December. It was estimated to sell between $233,345 – $362,981 and far surpassed that estimate selling for $767,445 (buyer’s premium included).
To the right is a pyramidal cabochon emerald and diamond ring. It’s hard to tell with this photo but the emerald is about 53.46 carats and comes from Columbia, where the best emeralds are mined from. This was sold in December at the New York Magnificent Jewels Auction for $1,685,000 (buyer’s premium included). It was thought to go for about $200,000 – $300,000, a great surprise for Christie’s.
The left item is a platinum, emerald and diamond brooch by Marianne Ostier from the Magnificent Jewels sale from April (Another jewel sold from this auction I wrote about in this post.) This design has the emerald hollowed out from behind, so instead of focusing on carats the dimensions are given of being about 21.3 to 20.9 mm by 9.6 mm. The designer of this jewel is the real story Marianne Ostier got involved in jewelry designing in the late 1930s when she married her husband who worked as a jeweler. Mrs. Ostier is credited with inventing the pincushion clip and free-form jewelry. She was also the first life-time member elected to the Diamonds-International Academy and received other honors in her career. She closed the business shortly after her husband passed in 1969. You can read more about her on this blog. This item estimated to sell for $175,000 — $275,000 sold above that for $346,000 (buyer’s premium included).
The earrings in the middle are from Bvlgari and made in 1970. I love that it is not just the emeralds that are carved but the rubies as well the emeralds together weigh 65 carats and the rubies 22 carats. I could not find the origin of the emeralds but I assume they are Colombian. The interesting piece is in the conditions report which states: articles of jewellery containing jadeite or rubies of Burmese origin all less than 100 years old may not be imported into the US. So it looks like the buyer if American will not be bringing these back. This Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite Auction was held in April 2016 at Hong Kong. The earrings were estimated to go between $20,630 – $30,946 and sold above that for $53,188 (buyer’s premium included).
The last piece to the right is a favorite piece of mine. This was from the same auction that sold the Marianne Ostier brooch from above. This is a platinum, emerald and diamond clip-brooch created by Seaman Schepps. It is a favorite not just because of it’s design but it is an original item from this jewelry house. I know it is a piece that the designer was involved with because of the date it was made. It was made in 1935. Schepps started his business in 1920s and retired in the late 60s. He passed away in 1972. So this brooch is one of his earlier works. I heard one of the men who took over Schepp’s business, Anthony Hopenhajm, speak at a Christie’s class and he mentioned that unique pieces from the time Seaman Schepps was involved in his business sometimes get bought back by the firm. It doesn’t seem that this one made the cut if the company knew about it. The piece failed to sell for the $20,000-$30,000 estimate. Another of the many times I wish I had had the money for a piece I saw.
My final New York auction house had pieces that focused more on design than the size of the stone. The necklace to the left not only has emeralds and diamonds but includes rubies and a sapphire. This necklace is by Graff. You can tell it is a high end house that designed this due to the unique cuts of the central emerald and sapphire. You do not often see trapezoid shaped gems in jewelry. The reasoning is that these shapes go to a specific design and can not be easily incorporated into other designs so it is more expensive of a loss if the item does not sell because the stones can not be reused. This piece is also fun because it is from 1985. I feel a lot of jewelry auctioned is early 20th century so seeing some more recent but dated jewels is refreshing. This piece sold for $ 32,956 ( inc. premium) at the Fine Jewelry Auction held in London on April 20, 2016. No estimate was available when I found this piece and it too has restriction to the U.S. because of the rubies.
The pieces in the middle are a pair of twentieth century emerald and diamond dress clips from Hong Kong Rare Jewels & Jadeite Auction, November 2015. These emeralds have a total weight of about 55 carats. I love how the diamonds and metal surrounding the emeralds are styled like peacock feathers. These clips sold for $159,662 ( inc. premium).
The pendant to the right looks a bit out of place to the more refined picks I have made up until now. The colors are bold and the pendant is large at 9.5cm (3.74 inches) in length but the details and pave work are amazing. The front of this cross has 24 carats of emeralds surrounded by 22.7 carats of demantoid garnets. The back however is completely cover in 27.6 carats of diamonds!
The last set of emeralds we will be looking at comes from Skinner Auction House in Boston, Ma.
This emerald and diamond brooch dates back to the Edwardian period. The exact date is not listed but the report on this piece places the origin of the emerald as being from Colombia. The diamonds are also old European-cut. I saw this in person it is smaller than many of the pieces listed but the emerald was eye clean and flawless looking. It was estimated to sell between $50,000-75,000 and out performed its high estimate by 547% selling for $410,000 (premium not included). Sold at the December Fine Jewelry Auction.
The earrings in the middle are not primarily emerald but the look of these 18kt Gold Gem-set Day/Night Ear pendants by Van Cleef & Arpels were too fun to pass up! These were sold for $67,650 (inc. premium) in the March Fine Jewelry Auction, above the $30,000-$40,000 estimate.
This antique emerald and diamond pendant/brooch has an emerald measuring 8.00 x 7.90 mm (.31 x .31 inches) surrounded by larger mine cut diamonds with rose cut diamond accents and is 3 inches in length. This was also sold in the March Fine Jewelry Auction. It just made its estimate of $2,500-$3,000 by selling for $3,198 (inc. premium).
I hope you liked my selection! Do you have any emeralds from a loved one for marking an anniversary or special event? Anyone with an emerald engagement ring? Would love to hear your stories about your own emerald treasures! Below are some of the emeralds from my article that I got to see in person from my photo archives! What are your favorites?