Next week wraps up the final magnificent jewelry sales of the 2014 auction season beginning with Sotheby’s New York Magnificent Jewels sale on Tuesday. With a total of 411 lots, the sale is full of fabulous jewels from rare and important stones to those made by the great jewelry firms. However, the real stars of the sale are the jewels of distinguished American provenance.
Helen Hay Whitney’s Magnificent Platinum-Topped Gold and Diamond Necklace – The delicate chain set at the front with a marquise-shaped diamond weighing 8.91 carats, supporting three fringes, the central fringe anchored by a pear-shaped diamond weighing 27.48 carats, the side fringes anchored by pear-shaped diamonds weighing 15.53 and 13.08 carats, further set with old European-cut diamonds weighing approximately 6.65 carats, length 17 inches; circa 1902.
Serving as the sale’s grand finale, jewels from the estate of Helen Hay Whitney are the star lots of the auction. As the catalogue note unveils, the marriage of Helen Hay and Payne Whitney in February 1902 caused a media sensation with news articles describing every last detail of the notable event. Most interestingly, the New York Times confirms a report that lists the superfluous number of near priceless gifts the couple received, many of which were dazzling jewels – the most important of which also serves as the catalogue’s cover lot.
Helen Hay (center) and her bridesmaids on her wedding day, 1902. According to family tradition, lot 414 – the diamond necklace – was one of Helen Hay Whitney’s wedding presents.
A stunning diamond necklace set in platinum-topped gold is likely one of the diamond necklace noted by the New York Time as one of Helen Hay Whitney’s wedding gifts. Estimated at $2.5 to $3.5 million, the magnificent jewel is comprised of a 8.91-carat marquise-shaped diamond at its center, from which suspends three diamond fringes – the central fringe anchored by a 27.48-carat pear-shaped diamond and the side fringes anchored by pear-shaped diamonds weighing 15.53 and 13.08 carats.
A close-up of the impressive diamonds of Helen Hay Whitney’s necklace
Other notable jewels from Helen Hay Whitney’s estate include an elegant Art Deco diamond bracelet (est. $25,000 – $35,000); a natural pearl, diamond and colored diamond crossover ring (est. $40,000 – $60,000); an intricately designed diamond, jadeite, lapis lazuli, pearl and enamel ‘Stalactite’ lapel-watch, by Cartier, circa 1925 (est. $30,000 – $50,000; and a two exquisite emerald and diamond rings – one unsigned circa 1920 (est. $125,000 – $175,000) and the other by Tiffany & Co. circa 1925 (est. $250,000 – $350,000).
Of openwork design, the panels centering three marquise-shaped diamonds weighing approximately 2.25 carats, further set with smaller marquise-shaped diamonds weighing approximately 4.50 carats, accented by round and emerald-cut diamonds weighing approximately 19.65 carats, length 7½ inches, numbered 5234; circa 1930.
Of crossover design, set with two natural pearls measuring approximately 12.9 by 12.4 mm and 12.8 mm, accented by baguette and square-cut near colorless diamonds weighing approximately 1.20 carats, further set with baguette and square-cut diamonds of yellow hue weighing approximately 1.15 carats, size 6½.
The floral top centered by an old European-cut diamond weighing approximately .85 carat, suspending a pendant which opens to reveal a watch dial, topped by a jadeite bead measuring approximately 10.3 mm, accented by a pearl measuring approximately 4.8 mm, decorated throughout with lapis lazuli segments and highlighted with black enamel, set throughout with old European and single-cut diamonds, the dial signed Cartier, numbered 1737; circa 1925.
Centering an emerald-cut emerald measuring approximately 15.9 by 10.4 by 6.5 mm, accented by old European-cut diamonds weighing approximately .50 carat, size 6¾, signed Tiffany & Co.; circa 1925. (left); Centering an emerald-cut emerald measuring approximately 11.9 by 10.2 by 5.8 mm, flanked by two calf’s head-shaped diamonds weighing approximately 7.65 carats, the mounting further accented by single-cut diamonds weighing approximately .30 carat, size 7½; circa 1920. (right)
Also of note are the jewelry collections of Estée Lauder and Evelyn H. Lauder, which are being sold to benefit The Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation and The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. You can see the highlights from their collections here.
Two emerald jewels from the collection of Matilda Dodge Wilson: A Platinum, Carved Emerald and Diamond Necklace, circa 1930 (est. $80,000 – $100,000), and A Platinum, Emerald and Diamond Ring, Cartier, New York, circa 1933 (est. $250,000 – $350,000)
Other jewels with notable provenance include the emerald jewels from the collection of Matilda Dodge Wilson; a tri-color gold and lapis lazuli bracelet, by Cartier, formerly owned by silver screen legend Marlene Dietrich (est. $20,000 – $30,000); a 16.79-carat Fancy Light yellow diamond ring (est. $140,000 – $180,000) from the collection of “The Queen of Swing” Keely Smith; and a pair of emerald and diamond earrings (est. $600,000 – $800,000), whose verdant stones were once part of the extraordinary jewelry collection of Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich.
The two drop-shaped emeralds measuring approximately 19.3 by 12.3 by 12.5 mm and 18.5 by 12.2 by 12.5 mm, suspended from two round pyramid-shaped cabochon emeralds measuring approximately 12.7 by 12.8 by 8.0 mm and 12.5 by 12.8 by 7.8 mm, within diamond-set frames of later addition set with round, old mine and single-cut diamonds weighing approximately 17.50 carats.
The circular gold links centering a barrel-form clasp composed of a lapis lazuli cylinder measuring approximately 28.8 by 23.3 by 18.1 mm, length 8 inches, signed Cartier; circa 1940.
In addition to jewels of important provenance, the sale also offers a number of pieces of historical significance. Those items include three pieces by Marcus & Co. that quintessentially represent the American firm’s distinct aesthetic, a substantial gold and carved jade ‘Ru-yi’ necklace by David Webb (est. $50,000 – $70,000) representative of the American designer’s grandiose designs from the 1970s, an exceptional Art Deco case by Cartier, Paris (est. $80,000 – $120,000), featuring fabulously detailed hardstone inlays by the renowned Vladamir Makowsky for Linzeler Marchak, and a rare and important Art Deco Egyptian-Revival bracelet by Lacloche Frères, circa 1925 (est. $300,000 – $500,000).
The pendant-brooch centering a cabochon emerald measuring approximately 18.3 by 18.2 by 11.0 mm to 12.2 by 12.1 mm, suspending a drop-shaped emerald, within scrollwork flourishes, accented by old European and single-cut diamonds weighing approximately 3.40 carats, highlighted with green enamel, partially obscured signature for Marcus & Co.; suspended from a fancy link gold chain, length 26 inches, unsigned; circa 1900.
The detachable pendant comprised of two carved and pierced jade plaques, each fitted with pendant hooks and brooch fittings, the larger plaque carved on both sides with mushroom motifs symbolizing longevity, the smaller plaque with a carving depicting a melon amongst scrolling tendrils, an auspicious symbol conveying the wish for progeny, the links and surrounds of the necklace designed as ru-yi, representing hopefulness, further decorated with seven round carved jade plaques carved as flowerheads,… both signed Webb; circa 1971.
The rectangular gold case decorated on the obverse with a marquetry scene depicting father and son astride a camel in pursuit of a gazelle, the reverse set with a marquetry panel portraying scenes of falconry; both marquetry panels delicately inlaid with gold, tinted mother-of-pearl, abalone shell, coral, jasper, malachite and lapis lazuli, signed in the lower right corners with an “M” for Vladamir Makowsky, decorated on both obverse and reverse with champlevé enamel quartered by tiny cabochons of lapis lazuli, the gently curved corners set with semi-cylindrical segments of lapis lazuli, featuring a centered thumbpiece of lapis lazuli and rose-cut diamonds, signed Cartier, Paris, Londres, New York, and Incrustations de Linzeler Marchak, with French assay marks; circa 1930.
Composed of three main panels, the central panel depicting a sphinx amongst ancient Egyptian symbols, flanked by two panels depicting the Egyptian god Horus, the three panels within buff-top calibré-cut sapphire borders, set throughout with round, old European and single-cut diamonds, further decorated with buff-top calibré-cut emeralds and rubies, length 7¼ inches, signed La Cloche Freres, Paris, numbered 65059; circa 1925.
Of course, one cannot forget the magnificent gemstones inherent of a magnificent jewels sale – and this one has plenty. Starting with the diamonds, the highlights include: a 25.44-carat emerald-cut diamond ring of D-color and VVS1 clarity (est. $2.5 – $3.5 million), a 30.48-carat Fancy Vivid yellow diamond, of VS2 clarity, and diamond ring (est. $1.75 – $2 million), a 3.07-carat Fancy Intense purplish-pink diamond and diamond ring (est. $1.1 – $1.3 million), and a 3.02-carat Fancy grayish blue diamond and diamond ring (est. $650,000 – $850,000).
Centering an emerald-cut diamond weighing 25.44 carats, flanked by two tapered baguette diamonds, size 4¼.
Set with a cut-cornered rectangular modified brilliant-cut Fancy Vivid Yellow diamond weighing 30.48 carats, the mounting set with round diamonds, size 6½.
The emerald-cut Fancy Intense Purplish Pink diamond weighing 3.07 carats, flanked by two bullet-shaped diamonds weighing approximately .45 carat, size 6.
Centering an emerald-cut Fancy Grayish Blue diamond weighing 3.02 carats, the mounting accented by baguette, single, old mine and triangle-cut diamonds weighing approximately .30 carat, size 4¾; circa 1930.
For rare and important gemstones, emeralds and sapphires are the predominant stones in the sale. Noteworthy lots include: a 19th century Austro-Hungarian brooch featuring a 13.04-carat Kashmir sapphire surrounded by old European-cut diamonds (est. $600,000 – $800,000), a 23.49-carat Burmese sapphire and diamond brooch, by Tiffany & Co., circa 1910 (est. $300,000 – $500,000), an emerald and diamond ring, by Cartier, New York, circa 1933, featuring a 4.06-carat Classic Colombian emerald (est. $250,000 – $350,000), and an Art Deco sapphire, diamond and emerald ring, by Charlton & Co., centering upon a fluted cabochon Kashmir sapphire (est. $200,000 – $300,000).
Centering an octagonal step-cut sapphire weighing 13.04 carats, framed by old European-cut diamonds weighing approximately 8.75 carats; last quarter of the 19th century.
Centering an oval-shaped sapphire weighing 23.49 carats, framed by old European-cut diamonds, signed Tiffany & Co.; circa 1910.
Centering an emerald-cut emerald weighing approximately 4.06 carats, flanked by two triangle-cut diamonds weighing approximately 1.80 carats, the mounting further set with single-cut diamonds weighing approximately .39 carat, size 5¾, signed Cartier, numbered 3319309; circa 1933.
The fluted cabochon sapphire measuring approximately 14.3 by 12.4 by 7.7 mm, the mounting accented by round diamonds weighing approximately .50 carat, further decorated with four cabochon emeralds, size 5¾, signed Charlton, numbered 2821A; circa 1928.
Other highlights and favorites include:
Of graduated design set with 29 oval and cushion-cut sapphires, the three largest sapphires weighing 15.30, 10.33 and 10.16 carats, the remaining sapphires weighing approximately 106.00 carats, spaced by baguette diamonds weighing approximately 6.80 carats, length 15½ inches, numbered 85507, with maker’s mark; fitted with a pendant hoop. (Est. $350,000 – $450,000)
The cruciform pendant-brooch set with oval-shaped and cushion-cut pink sapphires weighing approximately 34.75 carats, draped with a diamond-set shroud representing the Veil of Veronica, set with round diamonds weighing approximately .90 carat, signed Verdura; together with a chain for variety of wear, composed of bar-shaped links spaced by collet-set diamonds, set with round diamonds weighing approximately 2.75 carats, length 17¾ inches. (Est. $50,000 – $70,000)
Designed as a longstem rose, set with numerous round diamonds weighing approximately 12.75 carats, gross weight approximately 23 dwts, internal circumference 5½ inches, signed Flato; circa 1935. (Est. $20,000 – $30,000)
Designed as dueling roosters, the feathers set with numerous buff-top rubies, sapphires, citrines, amethysts and emeralds, accented by old European and single-cut diamonds weighing approximately 1.00 carat, with red enamel accents, completed by two cabochon ruby eyes, gross weight approximately 29 dwts, numbered 10235 and 11120. (Est. $20,000 – $30,000)
The carved nephrite elephant with a raised trunk, with an ornate costume and displaying a flag, set with cushion, cabochon and calibré-cut rubies, accented by round and calibré-cut sapphires, further set with marquise-shaped, old European and single-cut diamonds weighing approximately 1.00 carat, signed Seaman Schepps, one sapphire missing. (Est. $7,500 – $10,000)