The last of the year’s Magnificent Jewels auctions ended 2013 with a bang, setting the bar high for next year. While I know this sales results post is a bit overdue (my apologies), better late than never to report the results!
First up is Christie’s Magnificent Jewels sale held on December 10th, 2013. With a total of 425 lots sold out of the 495 offered and 92% of the lots sold by value, the sale earned the auction house a total of $65.8 million, bringing Christie’s 2013 New York Magnificent Jewels total to $193,823,950.
Highlights of the sale included a superb collection of diamond jewelry by Leviev, four dazzling diamond jewels, which sold for a combined total of $10.2 million. The lot that achieved the highest winning bid of $10.9 million was a rectangular-cut D color Internally Flawless Golconda diamond weighing 52.58 carats ($207,600 per carat), well within its estimate of $9.5 to $12.5 million.
Among the large diamonds and Kashmir sapphires, which comprised the sale’s top lots, was the true star of the sale: an Art Deco diamond, jadeite and gem-set ‘Tutti Frutti’ bracelet by Cartier. This unique and rare iconic Cartier bracelet continues to be a sound investment as this latest specimen far exceeded its $300,000 to $500,000 sale estimate with a final sale price of $2,045,000, setting a new world auction record for an Art Deco ‘Tutti Frutti’ bracelet by Cartier.
Other sales highlights include:
- An important two-strand natural pearl necklace (est. $400,000 to $600,000) sold for more than four times its high estimate with a winning bid of $2,517,000.
- A rectangular-cut Kashmir sapphire of 17.67 carats (est. $500,000 to $700,000) fetched a total of $2,345,000, or $132,700 per carat – well beyond its high estimate.
- A Belle Époque Kashmir sapphire ring of 21.27 carats, circa 1910 (est. $1.5 to $2.5 million) sold for $2,105,000, or $98,900 per carat
- An elegant pair of natural pearl and diamond ear pendants by David Webb (est. $100,000 to $150,000) sold close to 10 times more than its high estimate with a final bid of $1,265,000.
The following day, December 11th, 2013, rival Sotheby’s held its New York Magnificent Jewels sale. I was able to attend the sale’s preview and see all the jewels with my own eyes as well as handle a few of the sale’s highlights (a special thanks to Kendall Brown for that). I highly recommend going to auction previews as you can truly appreciate the jewelry, its artistry and wearability in person.
While Sotheby’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels sale broke records left and right with its spectacular stones, the New York sale was chockablock full of jewelry. Lisa Hubbard, Chairman, North & South America, Sotheby’s International Jewelry Division, summed the sale up best: “This was a fantastic sale for those who love and appreciate jewelry as art. Not only was it defined by important stones that brought exceptional results, but also by iconic designs that spoke so vividly to the cultures and periods that inspired them.”
A solid sell through rate of 82.1% with 83.2% of the lots sold by value, the sale surpassed its pre-sale high estimate total of $58.7 million with an outstanding final sale total of $60,550,813, marking the highest total for any jewelry sale at Sotheby’s New York. Helping to achieve this fantastic total was the sale’s leading lot, a magnificent classic Colombian 61.35-carat emerald and diamond ring (est. $1 to 1.5 million), which sold for a staggering $4,645,000.
For me, however, the ultimate highlight of the sale was a group of five rare Egyptian-revival jewels produced by Cartier in the mid-to-late 1920s, which together brought $2.3 million – more than double their $940,000 high estimate. Made of jeweled ancient Egyptian faiences, these five jewels – along with the Boucheron cuff – prove that truly historic and artistic jewelry can be just as valuable, if not more so, than big stones.
The sale’s cover star, a magnificent and rare Egyptian-revival faience and jeweled brooch, Cartier, London, circa 1923, (est. $300,000 to $500,000) fetched a jaw-dropping total of $1,025,000. The brooch is one of only two fan-shaped brooches ever made by Cartier, London and was exhibited in 1924 at the French Industrial Exposition at the Grand Central Palace in New York.
Another of the Egyptian-revival Cartier jewels, the ‘Sekhmet’ brooch (est. $300,000 to $500,000) sold for $845,000. Former from the estate of Iya, Lady Abdy, this rare and important faience and jeweled brooch depicts the Egyptian goddess Sekhmet and was made by Cartier, Paris, circa 1925.
Other highlights of the sale include:
- An iconic malachite, purpurine and ivory bracelet, Boucheron, Paris, circa 1931 (est. $150,000 to $250,000) achieved an astounding final sale price of $797,000.
- A magnificent emerald-cut 24.48-carat diamond ring of D color and VS1 clarity (est. $1.5 to $2.5 million) sold for $3,301,000.
- A natural pearl and diamond necklace (est. $400,000 to $600,000) fetched more than triple its high estimate with a final sale price of $1,865,000 – proving that the demand for natural pearls remains as strong as ever.
- An important Indian-inspired emerald and diamond fringe necklace, Cartier, London, circa 1947 (est. $600,000 to $800,000) sold for double its low estimate at $1,205,000.
- A mystery-set ruby and diamond ‘Ballerina’ brooch by Van Cleef & Arpels (est. $100,000 to $150,000) pirouetted to the tune of $557,000 – her final sale price.
- A stunning ‘Tulip’ necklace by Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co., France (est. $75,000 to $100,000) sold for more than double its high estimate with the winning bid of $233,000
- A rare enamel and diamond orchid brooch designed by Paulding Farnham for Tiffany & Co. (est. $80,000 to $120,000) achieved a solid sale price of $173,000.