Depending on the Kindness of Strangers Pays Off for Vivien Leigh Auction

It’s been too long since my last post, but I have a lot of exciting things planned for this blog! First though I want to finish my analysis of the auctions I had in my last post. First is the Vivien Leigh auction held at the end of September at Sotheby’s in London.

It was an interesting auction to follow due to the star having passed away about 50 years ago and her last movie was over 52 years ago. Even though Ms. Leigh did not have as many films to her credit as other stars of her generation, the films she did were outstanding. I have not seen all her films but of the ones I have she made it feel as though she was meant for that role. Many remember her for Gone with the Wind but a favorite of mine was That Hamilton Woman, starring her then husband Laurence Olivier. Even in black and white her beauty and talent shown through. All photos courtesy of Sotheby’s

Caesar and Cleopatra, 1944, photo by Cecil Bateman

The auction had many of her personal possessions such as clothes, jewelry, photographs and furniture from the 1930s-1960s. This auction was interesting in how it tried to recapture the memories and life she led privately with her husband Olivier. It was clear that even though their marriage ended in 1961 after 20 years of marriage that she clearly continued to cherish the time they had together. So how did this translate to the bidders… very well in my opinion.

Leigh and Olivier

For my analysis I looked at US dollars and took out the buyer’s premium from the result when calculating how far above the estimate the lots went. My first thought when looking at the auction estimates was that they were too low. I was right all the 321 lots sold and of those 287 sold above the high estimate given by Sotheby’s.

I grouped the lots into types/categories, so you could get a better idea of how well the groups did.

Typically, when I look at auctions I see percentages above the estimate by lot go between 100%-600% for the top lots. For this auction the percentage was in the thousands. Below are the top 5 lots picked by percentage above the high estimate that they sold for not including buyer’s premium.

If you read my blog post before this, you would have seen that I picked the ‘eternally’ ring as a lot to watch. It is ridiculous to think that this ring given by Laurence Olivier to Leigh was only thought to go as high as $793. This tells me that the bidders were sentimental as well to this union.

Next was the Ship of Fools bracelet. I saw this movie recently, funny and sad all at once. Even though she is playing a bitter and aging beauty she is still charming, witty and striking as she had been in her previous movies. This bracelet went above the $198 to result in a sale of $7429.60, good for a costume bracelet.

Ms. Leigh was also a fan of art. She painted, collected and received artwork. Winston Churchill had been noted to give Ms. Leigh some of his own paintings as they were good friends. This piece is an illustration by Roger Furse around 1948 made of watercolor, pen and ink and pencil on paper. Vivien loved cats and I think this was a great tribute to those interests. This was only thought to bring in about $1982, its final price $67,540. As I said something was off with the predictions

Another jewelry lot consisting of a culture pearl brooch from 1964. Estimated to go to $159, sold for $5403.20.

Furniture, books, personal accessories such as dishes for entertaining was the biggest part of the auction.  The fifth lot to do better than its high estimate was a Pier Mirror made between 1765 and 1780.

You might be wondering what was the lot that brought in the most money? That was reserved for the former Prime Minister Winston Churchill whose oil on canvas board titled Study of Roses brought in $719,020.

It really is beautiful. Made in the 1930s by Churchill and given to Leigh as a gift in 1951.

One more lot to note is lot 307 the diamond bow brooch that had been shared countless times on social media.

It was estimated to go for about $46,253. It sold for $49,980 (without buyer’s premium). Sotheby’s predicted that correctly.

 

Takeaways

Sotheby’s London clearly underestimated the interest in Vivien Leigh. Four of the five lots to outperform their estimate were personal items to her. Three were jewelry and not high-end jewelry, a gold band, a costume bracelet and a small pearl brooch. The illustration was of her and what she loved: reading and cats, among many other things.

 

For those looking to bid in future auctions keep in mind the emotional value an item has that may not be accounted for by the auction house. For those selling an item if it has a story, tell it! Sotheby’s I’m sure got a bit of a surprise with the success of those lots. Maybe though if they had shared other lots stories on social media those items may have done better still! The diamond bow brooch was nice, but Ms. Leigh had so many items that were noteworthy, not for the value of the lot itself but of the value of the owner. Ms. Leigh led a complicated and in some instances tragic life but always was a professional who continues to leave an impression on the public to this day.

Leigh photograph taken in 1950s

There are so many other angles to look at this auction data. If you are interested in this return soon as I look at Aubrey Hepburn’s auction that occurred after Vivien Leigh’s at Christie’s London. Also, any comments about my thoughts or opinions on the auction or actress are welcomed. Please return for more Data in the Rough!

Icons on Auction: What to look for this week

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.

Vivien Leigh

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.

Audrey Hepburn

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!

 

Summertime Jewels: Analysis of Sotheby’s Online Auction

Summertime Jewels: Analysis of Sotheby’s Online Auction

Summer has its moments but I’m excited for the Fall auction season to begin! While I wait there are a few auctions happening now. I ran across an article the other day on Sotheby’s website about their Specialist Picks: 10 Stand Outs from Jewels Online. The jewels on auction belonged to Marjorie S. Fisher. For this post, I want to look at a few key points to learn more about the items on auction. Look at Sotheby’s top picks and then give you 5 of my favorites.

The auction as a whole

What to know:

  • 99 lots total
  • 18 are marked by a designer
  • 81 do not have a designer identified with it
  • Over 60% are estimating to sell between $5,000 -$12,000
  • Range of estimates $3,000-$60,000

Graph breaking down the types of jewelry by count of lots.

The biggest surprise is that only 1 ring is for sale. A colored diamond ring that is a top pick of Sotheby’s. Not sure if that is intentional or not. Besides that, the variety is very good in my opinion. Mrs. Fisher had an amazing collection so it is not hard to pick a great piece from all the options. So let’s see what the specialist picked!

Sotheby’s Picks

A nice variety of pieces but a little heavy on the diamonds and price. Two of the picks are estimating to go as high as $60,000 (the 2 lots at the end, 96 & 99). It is a good start for building a solid collection but Mrs. Fisher had some fun pieces that should also be considered.

My Picks

I went for more warm colors. It is summer! Corals, citrine and gold caught my eye. The Michele Della Valle coral and diamond necklace (lot 2) is all you need with a great summer dress to go out for evening events. My favorite piece is at the end, Lot 40 the Egyptian inspired ruby, emerald, sapphire, enamel and diamond brooch! Very unique even among Mrs. Fisher’s items.

The auction ends tomorrow so bid now! If you saw another item that you really liked but is not listed above please comment below and return soon for more Data in the Rough!

Will this be the year that the Pink Star shines?

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.

Shirley Temple Blue Diamond, my photo

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.

Sweet Josephine, courtesy of Christies

 

Blue Moon, courtesy of Sotheby’s

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!

Pink Star, courtesy of Sotheby’s

Rubies: The Top 5 at Auction

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:

Ruby_blog_post_top_5_rubies

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!

Vedura_ruby

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!

Rubys_auction

Spotting David Webb Jewels at Christie’s June Auction

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:

DavidWebb_sapphire_necklace_6_16

What had me take a second look was the designer…

Sapphire_necklace_description

That’s right, David Webb. The same David Webb whose other jewels in the same auction look like this:

David_webb_christies

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!

20160604_141353

 

It was spectacular! All those stones and colors! A closer view is below:

20160604_141041

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

Amethyst_earrings

The left or the right?

It is the left:

Amethyst_earrings_skinner

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

butterfly_brooch

Guesses?

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

pink_sapphire_earringsThe answer:

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:

ruby_sapphire_earpendants

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!

Come back later for more posts!

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

2016_blog_Christies_emeralds

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

2016_blog_Sothebys_emeralds

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

2016_blog_bonhams_emeralds

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.

2016_blog_Skinner_emeralds

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?

Emeralds_at_auction_my_photos

 

 

Shirley Temple Blue Diamond at Auction

When seeing a movie besides the story and actors I pay attention to the jewelry shown. A favorite scene of mine is from the movie Bright Eyes starring Shirley Temple and James Dunn. (pictured below)

Bright_Eyes_ring_look

Close up of the ‘magic’ ring…

Bright_Eyes_ring_close_up

 

Dunn tells Shirley that this ring is a magic ring. If she ever needs him, she just needs to send the ring and he will come right back for her.

Well Shirley Temple had another ring that is up for auction this week. It is nothing less than spectacular it is an almost 10 carat deep blue diamond. As a fan of her work, I had to make the trip to New York to glimpse at this piece of history. What I got was a step back into old Hollywood and remember not only the star she was but the amazing person she continued to be long after her final movie.

I walked up to the fine jewelry department at Sotheby’s Auction House and was greeted to the red carpet treatment as I entered to find the blue diamond on display with videos and quotes on Shirley Temple Black’s life.

red_carpet

fdr

diamond_box

She had an amazing career, serving as a U.S delegate in the 60’s and Chief of Protocol of the United States in the 70’s.

The blue diamond was a gift from her father around the release of her new film The Bluebird in 1940.

blue_diamond_close

It was quite a treat to see the diamond and learn more about her life’s story. I will finish with a line that James Dunn says to Shirley in Bright Eyes when she mentions how pretty a lady he knew looks. He looks at Shirley with a serious tone and says, it’s not enough to be pretty here (points to her face), you need to also be pretty in here too (and points to her heart). I believe Shirley was both and I am grateful for being able to see her films that taught the values that would make you pretty inside.

Bright_Eyes_inner_pretty

If you have a favorite film of Shirley Temple’s, please share below! Also, come back for more looks at the auctions held this week!

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:

Skinner_67_12_2015_1

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.

Skinner diamond blog

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.

 

Windsor_Belperron

 

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

 

Sothebys_2

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!

Tiffany_2

 

Tiffany_1

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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!