Auction News

A Recap of Recent Record-Breaking Gems & Jewels at Auction

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Over the past couple of years, large and rare colored diamonds have been the shining stars of the major jewelry auctions. A total of six new diamond records have been set between 2013 and halfway through 2014 – not including sale of The Pink Star diamond at Sotheby’s. Already this year, two new records for colored diamonds were added to the list: the ‘Winston Blue’, a 13.22 carat Fancy Vivid blue diamond, set a world record price per carat for a blue diamond when it sold at Christie’s Geneva in May for nearly $23.8 million, or $1.8 million per carat; and the ‘Graff Vivid Yellow’, a 100.09-carat Fancy Vivid yellow diamond, fetched more than $13.4 million at Sotheby’s Geneva in May, setting a new world record price for a yellow diamond.

Winston Blue & Graff Vivid Yellow

The ‘Winston Blue’ (left) and ‘Graff Vivid Yellow’ (right)

In 2013, diamond after diamond led to higher and higher auction record prices from one sale to the next. In the colorless diamond space, there was a dual of 100-plus-carat diamonds. First, the ‘101’, the largest D Flawless Type IIa diamond ever to be offered at auction, sold at Christie’s in May 2013 for $26.7 million, becoming the most valuable colorless diamond sold at auction. The 101.73-carat pear-shaped stone was bought by Harry Winston and later renamed the ‘Winston Legacy’. Fifth months later, the records set by the ‘Winston Legacy’ would be surpassed by a 118.28-carat D Flawless Type IIa oval-shaped diamond that sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in October 2013 for $30.6 million, taking the world record for the highest price ever paid for a colorless diamond at auction.

Winston Legacy & 118.28-ct

The ‘Winston Legacy’ (left) and 118.28-carat oval diamond (right)

For colored diamonds, last year proved an exceptional one for auction prices, led by ‘The Orange’, a 14.82-carat Fancy Vivid orange diamond that set two world records when it sold for more than $35.5 million ($2,398,151 per carat) at Christie’s in November 2013. The pumpkin-colored diamond set a world record for a Fancy Vivid orange diamond and a world record price per carat for any gem at auction. A diamond of the rarest fancy diamond color also set a new record in 2013: a 1.92-carat Fancy red diamond sold for nearly $3.3 million at Christie’s Geneva in May 2013.

The Orange & Red Diamonds

‘The Orange’ (left) and the 1.92-carat Fancy red diamond (right)

Pink diamonds, however, were the hottest color for diamonds in 2013 with two record-breaking specimens selling at auction. In April 2013, Christie’s New York sold the storied ‘Princie’ diamond, a rare 34.65-carat pink Golconda diamond, for $39.3 million – the highest price ever paid for a Golconda diamond at auction. Six months later in November, Sotheby’s Geneva sold the ‘Pink Star’, a 59.60-carat oval-cut Fancy Vivid pink diamond, for $83.19 million, setting a slew of new records – a world record price for a diamond, colored diamond or any jewel sold at auction. The ‘Pink Star’ also helped Sotheby’s to achieve the highest jewelry sale total in history as the Geneva Magnificent Jewels sale totaled $199,512,930, toppling the Elizabeth Taylor sale total set in December 2011 at Christie’s. However, when the buyer of the ‘Pink Star’, Isaac Wolf, defaulted on the payment of the diamond, Sotheby’s was forced to relinquish its newly gained auction records to the previous holders.

Princie & Pink Star

The ‘Princie’ (left) and ‘Pink Star’ pink diamonds

Diamonds aren’t the only stones to make and break auction records of late, but rare precious gemstones are also generating record prices at auction recently. Since 2012, new records for rubies and sapphires, total price and price per carat for both, have been set. Natural pearls, jadeite and even alexandrites are also counted among world auction record prices. Even beyond stones, signed jewelry keeps raising the auction record bar as well, with signed pieces like the Hutton-Mdivani jadeite bead necklace by Cartier (a record price for a jewel by Cartier and a jadeite jewel) and the Walska Briolette Diamond brooch by Van Cleef & Arpels (a record price for a jewel by Van Cleef & Arpels) adding more accolades to the auction houses.

Hutton-Mdivani Necklace & Waslka Brooch

Hutton-Mdivani jadeite bead necklace by Cartier (left) and Walska Briolette Diamond brooch by Van Cleef & Arpels (right)

Specific designs from jewelry houses also receive world auction records, the first being Cartier’s Art Deco ‘tutti frutti’ bracelets that continue to break the multi-million price mark when coming up for auction, most recently set by a diamond, jadeite, and gem-set version that sold for a little over $2 million at Christie’s in December 2013. Another signature design gaining price-momentum at auction, the Serpenti bracelet-watch from Bulgari joins the ‘tutti frutti’ as an iconic jewel to fetch over $1 million and earn an auction title. Earlier this month, Christie’s London sold a rare enamel Serpenti watch/bracelet, circa 1965, for over $1.1 million on June 4, setting a new record price for a Bulgari Serpenti/snake bracelet-watch. The auction record for a Bulgari Serpenti bracelet-watch was previously held by Elizabeth Taylor’s yellow gold and diamond version when it sold for just shy of $1 million in December 2011.

Cartier Tutti Frutti & Serpenti

An Art Deco ‘Tutti Frutti’ diamond, jadeite and gem-set bracelet, by Cartier (left) and a rare enamel and diamond snake/Serpenti watch, by Bulgari, circa 1965 (right)

As more and more of these magnificent jewels come up for sale, Christie’s and Sotheby’s compete to gain as many world auction records at each auction. With the constant toppling of records from one auction to the next, it’s hard to keep track of which stones and jewels hold which records. To help keep track of this oft-changing list of record holders, I’ve compiled the latest world auction records to date on a static page on my blog.

Here are the current record holders as of the publishing of this post.

Auction Records

Highest total ever for a jewelry auction: $154,193,622
Christie’s Geneva, May 14, 2014

Total price for any gem: $46,158,674
24.78 ct Fancy Intense pink diamond, Sotheby’s Geneva, November 16, 2010
*The Pink Star (or Pink Dream, formerly the Steinmetz Pink), a 59.60 ct IF Fancy Vivid pink diamond, sold at Sotheby’s Geneva on November 13, 2013 for $83.2 million. The buyer, Isaac Wolf, defaulted on the payment of the stone, which has now been added to Sotheby’s inventory.

Per-carat price for any gem: $2,398,152
14.82 ct Fancy Vivid orange diamond, Christie’s Geneva, November 12, 2013 (the “Orange”)

Diamonds

Largest diamond ever sold at auction: 118.28 carats
Oval-cut, D Flawless Type IIa ($30,600,000), Sotheby’s Hong Kong, October 7, 2013

Total price for a Golconda diamond: $39,323,750
34.65 Fancy Intense pink, VS2, Golconda, Christie’s New York, April 16, 2013

Total price for a colorless diamond: $30,680,000
118.28 ct D-IF, Type IIa, Sotheby’s Hong Kong, October 7, 2013

Per-carat price for a colorless diamond: $282,545
76.02 ct D-IF, Christie’s Geneva, November 13, 2012 (the “Archduke Joseph”)

Total price for a pink diamond: $46,158,674
24.78 ct Fancy Intense pink, Sotheby’s Geneva, November 16, 2010

Per-carat price for a pink diamond: $2,155,332
5 ct Fancy Vivid pink, Christie’s Hong Kong, December 1, 2010 (the “Vivid Pink”)

Total price for a blue diamond: $24,311,190
35.56 ct Fancy Deep grayish blue VS2, Christie’s London, December 10, 2008 (the “Wittelsbach Blue”)

Per-carat price for a blue diamond: $1,799,953
13.22 ct Fancy Vivid blue, Christie’s Geneva, May 14, 2014 (the “Winston Blue”)

Total price for a yellow diamond: $16,347,847
100.09 ct Fancy Vivid yellow VVS1, Sotheby’s Geneva, May 13, 2014 (the “Graff Vivid Yellow”)

Per-carat price for a yellow diamond: $367,366
2.62 ct Fancy Vivid yellow, VVS1, Christie’s New York, December 13, 2011

Total price for a red diamond: $3,251,625
1.92 ct Fancy red, VS2, Christie’s Geneva, May 15, 2013

Precious Gemstones

Total price for a ruby: $7,338,462
29.62 ct Burmese, Sotheby’s Hong Kong, April 7, 2014

Per-carat price for a ruby: $551,000
6.04 Burmese, Christie’s Hong Kong, May 21, 2012

Total price for a sapphire: $8,358,520
A pair, 26.66 ct and 20.88 ct Kashmir, Sotheby’s Geneva, November 13, 2013 (“Richelieu Sapphires”)

Per-carat price for a sapphire: $180,731
28.18 ct Kashmir, Sotheby’s New York, April 29, 2014

Total price for a Kashmir sapphire: $8,358,520
A pair, 26.66 ct and 20.88 ct Kashmir, Sotheby’s Geneva, November 13, 2013 (“Richelieu Sapphires”)

Total price for a Burmese sapphire: $7,137,821
114.73 ct Burmese, Sotheby’s Geneva, November 13, 2013

Total price for a Ceylon sapphire: $1,859,965
60.44 ct Ceylon, Christie’s Geneva, November 13, 2012

Total price for a pink sapphire: $2,037,123
49.04 ct Ceylon, Christie’s Geneva, May 14, 2014

Total price for an emerald: $6,578,500
23.46 ct Colombian, Christie’s New York, December 13, 2011 (Elizabeth Taylor sale)

Per-carat price for an emerald: $280,000
23.46 ct Colombian, Christie’s New York, December 13, 2011 (Elizabeth Taylor sale)

Total price for an alexandrite: $1,495,395
21.41 ct Russian, Christie’s Geneva, May 14, 2014

Total price for a natural pearl jewel: $11,842,500
La Peregrina, Christie’s New York, December 14, 2011 (Elizabeth Taylor sale)

Total price for a single strand natural pearl necklace: $8,457,945
Natural pearl necklace measuring from 13.7 to 10.4 mm, Christie’s Geneva, May 15, 2013

Total price for a conch pearl jewel: $3,461,146
Conch pearl, enamel and diamond bracelet, Cartier, late 1920s, Sotheby’s Geneva, November 14, 2012

Total price for a jadeite jewel: $27,441,026
Hutton-Mdivani Jadeite Bead Necklace, Cartier, Sotheby’s Hong Kong, April 7, 2014

Signed Jewels

Total price for a Cartier jewel: $27,441,026
Hutton-Mdivani Jadeite Bead Necklace, Sotheby’s Hong Kong, April 7, 2014

Total price for an Art Deco ‘Tutti Frutti’ bracelet by Cartier: $2,045,000
An Art Deco diamond, jadeite, and gem-set “Tutti Frutti” bracelet, by Cartier.
Christie’s New York, December 10, 2013

Total price for a Van Cleef & Arpels jewel: $10,555,778
The Walska Briolette Diamond Brooch, Sotheby’s Geneva, November 13, 2013

Total price for a JAR jewel: $4,323,240
A ruby Camellia brooch, by JAR, 2003, Christie’s Geneva, May 14, 2012 (Lily Safra sale)

Total price for a Bulgari jewel: $6,578,500
23.46 ct Colombian emerald and diamond brooch, by Bulgari
Christie’s New York, December 13, 2011 (Elizabeth Taylor sale)

Total price for a Bulgari snake/serpenti jewel: $1,107,038
A rare enamel and diamond snake wristwatch, by Bulgari, circa 1965
Christie’s London, June 4, 2014

Misc. Jewels

Total price for an Indian jewel: $8,818,500
The Taj Mahal Diamond, Christie’s New York, December 14, 2011 (Elizabeth Taylor sale)

 

 

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