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?