Emeralds at Auction

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.

Christie’s

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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.

 

Sotheby’s

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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.

 

Bonhams

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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!

back of Emerald Garnet Cross
back of Emerald Garnet Cross

 

Skinner Inc.

The last set of emeralds we will be looking at comes from Skinner Auction House in Boston, Ma.

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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?

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Hearts on Auction

In honor of Valentine’s Day I have put together a few heart shaped jewelry items that were on the auction block. I am looking at items sold by Skinner Auction House in Boston, Sotheby’s, and Christies. All of them are beautiful, a few have some interesting history and one has created a scandal that will put it back in the auction house once again!

 

Skinner Auction House:

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An 18kt Gold, Ruby, and Diamond Pendant sold in 2015 at the Fine Jewelry Auction for $1,230.

 

Skinner_121_12_2015_1An Antique 14kt Gold and Pink Tourmaline Necklace sold in 2015 at the Fine Jewelry Auction for $9,840.

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Important Diamond sold in 2015 at the Fine Jewelry Auction for $3,947,000.

Note: I saw this in person, my photo on the right it was so valuable that it was not taken out for the public viewing. A bidder needed to be preregister and cleared by the accounting department in order to place a bid! This diamond was named important due to the area it was mined from which was believed to be in the area of the Golconda mines. This diamond had been in the collection of a prominent British American family who originally acquired this diamond around the 1880’s/1890’s. You can see in the photo on the right the ring is mounted in a setting. That is a platinum setting by Harry Winston. Total weight 31.25cts.

 

Sotheby’s Auction House:

Sothebys_339_12_2015_1Gold, Platinum and Diamond Bracelet sold for $22,500 in Magnificent Jewels Auction, 2015

Sothebys_5_12_2015_1Pair of Gold, Wood and Emerald Ear clips by Daniel Brush sold for $11,250 in Magnificent Jewels Auction, 2015

 

Sothebys_145_12_2015_118 Karat Two-Color Gold, Faint Pink Diamond, Colored Diamond and Diamond Ring, no final bid price listed from the Magnificent Jewels Auction, 2015

 

Sothebys_1327_12_2015_HK_1Tanzanite and Diamond Pendant Necklace, no final bid price listed from the Fine Jewels and Jadeite Auction, 2015

Note: Does this remind you of Rose’s Heart of the Ocean necklace from Titanic?

 

Christie’s Auction House:

Flato_04_14_14The Millicent Rogers Heart: A Ruby, Sapphire, Colored Diamond and Enamel Brooch by Paul Flato sold at the Magnificent Jewels Auction in 2015 for $425,000.

Note: Millicent Rogers (1902-1953) was a socialite and fashion icon that influenced several designers in her day and continues to inspire current designers in their collections. Verbum Carro is a Latin phrase that translates to ‘A word to my dear one’.

 

19c_sapphire_brooch_4_14_15_christiesA late 19th / early 20th century diamond and sapphire brooch sold at the London Jewellery Auction in 2015 for $4,401.

 

DE GRISOGONO_11_11_14_christiesA Pair of Diamond, Colored Diamond, Ruby, and Emerald Ear Pendants by De Grisogono sold at the Geneva Magnificent Jewels Auction in 2014 for $ 290,924.

 

ETaylor_taj_blogThe Taj Mahal, An Indian Diamond and Jade Pendant Necklace with Ruby and Gold Chain (chain by Cartier) owned by Elizabeth Taylor and Auctioned off at the Legendary Jewels Evening Sale in 2011.

It is no surprise to see something related to Miss Taylor back in the news. This piece was a gift from Richard Burton who famously stated, ‘I would have liked to buy her the Taj-Mahal but it would cost too much to transport.’ All items for the Taylor Jewelry Auction far surpassed their estimates. This item sold for $8,818,500, the second highest price paid for that auction. The Peregrina, the famous Spanish pearl was the item with the highest price paid, $11,842,500. (Note: All final price come from the Christie’s sight on the Evening Sale) The Taj Diamond, like the Peregrina necklace, has a story and history attached to it.

The necklace belonged to the Shah Jahan who commissioned the Taj Mahal monument in Agra in India. This diamond was a gift to the wife the Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal for. However, the dispute happened shortly after the auction ended, as the winning bidder has claimed that this diamond did not belong to Shah Jahan. The owner then sought to get their money back and return the gem. This reason for the long battle is since the proceeds of the charity went to the Elizabeth Taylor Foundation; the Foundation had to return the money, not the auction house. This December the dispute finally ended with the bidder returning the gem and getting their money back. Now the diamond is returning to auction on an undisclosed date. It will be interesting to see the story now attached to it. I hope that there will be a public viewing of this diamond. I saw this diamond in December 2011, the only auction preview I needed to reserve a ticket and wait in line. Regardless of its origin, this diamond is still associated with love. For more information on this diamond’s story, please click here.

I hope you have a Happy Valentine’s Day and I look forward to you returning soon for another blog post!

4 Auctions, 2 Days: My Journey to see a Duchess, a Southern Belle, a Clown and a Woman whose Style is Her Signature

It’s no secret by now when I say that I love jewelry! One aspect of jewelry I really love is the history and craftsmanship that even the smallest piece can have. These qualities can be found in modern jewelry or vintage jewelry. Going into a store and appreciating the work and design is a pastime of mine. Unfortunately, a little guilt can come when going in too often and not buying. A great alternative for me is attending auction previews.  I’ve been to several in New York and Boston over the years. This December was no exception.  The auction houses that I attend were having their previews around the same time so I made a day trip to see three auction houses in New York City and one in Boston over the first weekend in December. Yes I went to 4 auction previews in 2 days! Each had a some amazing must see pieces that I’ll share below, as well as some history with them.

Day 1:

Sotheby’s Auction House (New York City)

I started my day at Sotheby’s Auction House. This was the first auction house I had been to when I first came to NYC. I bought a bus ticket to see Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor’s jewelry displayed and up for auction. So when I heard Sotheby’s was selling another set of her jewelry I knew this was a must see.  The set below is more than jewelry owned by a celebrity, the designer Suzanne Belperron has an amazing story as well. Ms. Belperron was a jewelry designer in the early 20th century. A rare profession for a woman to hold and to be so successful her jewelry came with the highest in quality of design. Her designs were so strong and unique she did not sign most of her work. She claimed, “My style is my signature.” So finding identifiable work of hers is rare and in 1987 the Duchess of Windsor a buyer of Belperron’s jewelry could only identify 5 of 16 pieces as that of the artist. This set below is one of the pieces sold almost 30 years ago and up for auction again.

 

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This jewelry above is made with chalcedony, sapphires, diamonds and white gold. The cuffs sold as a set for $526,000, in line with the $400,000-$600,000 estimate. The necklace estimated to sell between $350,000-$550,000 earned the sum of $430,000.  There were other items as well.

Below Left- a pair of topaz and diamond earring by JAR that sold for $358,000

Below Middle-a necklace designed by Van Cleef & Arpels owned by Queen Nazil of Egypt sold for about $4.3 million

Below Right- another auction preview for watches this gold and enamel watch from 1810 sold for $30,000

 

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Christie’s Auction House (New York City)

Next stop was another famous auction house Christie’s. Below is jewelry owned by Carroll Petrie. Raised in South Carolina, Mrs. Petrie gained a passion for art and culture. She moved to New York City where she became a model and married a man that was in New York High Society. She gained many beautiful pieces of jewelry and was involved in  Philanthropy which put her in contact with celebrities such as Joan Rivers, President Reagan and wife Nancy, among others. Both necklaces below are designed by Jean Schlumberger. The first one sold far above the estimate of $200,000-$300,000 going for $905,000! The necklace below that had the same estimate and sold for $725,000! These pieces were amazing to see in person. The sparkle and vibrancy of the gems was breath taking!

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The gold headband above was also owned by Mrs. Petrie. This fun piece was estimated at $5,000-$7,000 and sold below the estimate for $4,375. Not as pricey as the ones above but a another piece to this woman’s fabulous life!

 

Bonham’s Auction House (New York City)

My final stop in NYC was at a smaller auction house, Bonham’s. The featured item for this auction was a gold clown with a black opal center, covered with diamonds, ruby an sapphires. It was a unique piece and not too big. This brooch made by Cartier in 1975 sold for $37,500.(below far left)

There were other incredible pieces to see. Next to the clown belown is a picture of a stunning Trianon designed cultured pearl, sapphire, diamond and shell brooch. I love shell jewelry and found this to be so beautiful! This was withdrawn from the auction. The photo next to the shell on the right, is a coral, emerald, pearl brooch by Tony Duquette. The bid was with drawn and did not sell. The final photo on the right is a bit blurry but in person was so full of fire and brilliance I had to add this 3.8 carat ruby ring surround by 3.3 carats of diamonds. Sadly this too did not sell. For this rings case the trend is large stone gems and 3.8 is not a large stone, but I would have gladly taken it! So 3 houses down one left for the next day as I journey back to Boston.

 

Bonhams

Day 2:

Skinner Auction House (Boston)

 

20151206_122718Even with being a little tired the next day I regained my energy to see another Suzanne Belperron piece. This diamond and platinum brooch is another example of Suzanne Belperron’s fine and unique work. This piece was made in 1940 and was estimated to sell between $20,000-$30,000. As seems the trend with my picks this did not sell. Hopefully sometime this work of art will find a good home. I did find other fun items for you to enjoy below!

I tried to get better details but the lighting was not as great as I hoped for but you can imagine the entrance this piece would make on someone! This 18kt white gold and diamond necklace by Stefan Hafner(below the two photos to the right), is beyond fantasy! Holding it was like holding a diamond net, the movement and fluidity of the piece was what made this piece so fun to see! It was estimated to sell for $25,000-$35,000 and earned the sum of $27,060!

 

 

Skinner

I have really taken an interest in these carved figures that invoke a time long before the modern world. This brooch to the left above is no exception! This small 14kt gold and multi-gemstone brooch of a fortune teller was only selling for an estimate $400-$600, and went for $492. A really amazing deal in my opinion!

So that was my journey to see all these pieces and more. I learned about history, design and appreciated the little details that can get lost when only looking for the expensive items. If you went to see these auctions let me know what else you liked and please subscribe to my email list for more updates! Thank you for reading my article!