Last week, Sotheby’s held its second major jewelry sale of the season, its Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite auction in Hong Kong. Hoping to improve upon its autumn-opener in New York, the 279-lot sale succeeded in setting two new records even despite missing its $77 million pre-sale estimate. The Jewel of Kashmir and The Cowdray Pearls, selling for $6.7 and $5.3 million, respectively, boosted the overall sale total to $62.3 million. Only 66.5 percent of the lots were sold and 67.7 percent sold by value.
Weighing a whopping 27.68 carats, the Jewel of Kashmir set a new world auction record price per carat for a Kashmir sapphire at $242,145 per carat. The previous record-holder, a 10.33-carat Kashmir sapphire at $240,381 per carat, clutched the record at Christie’s Hong Kong earlier in June of this year. Record prices for sapphires are fleeting honors these days.
The Cowdray Pearls broke their previous auction record for a natural grey pearl necklace of $3.35 million, a price achieved at Christie’s London in June 2012. The historic and important single strand of pearls bested its price by $1.8 million in just three years, highlighting the ever-growing demand for the most superb natural pearls.
Adding to its heritage collection, Tiffany & Co. purchased the Dowager Viscountess Harcourt diamond necklace for $1.5 million. This is the second time that Tiffany & Co. has snatched up the diamonds at auction, the first time occurring in 1887 when the French Crown Jewels hit the auction block in Paris. At that time, the diamonds formed the chains of the Great Comb à Pampilles and were sold a week later to Junius Morgan. The diamond chains were then bequeathed to his granddaughter, Mary Ethel Burns, who became Viscountess Harcourt upon her marriage. She had the diamonds remounted into the present necklace around 1900.
Quek Chin Yeow, Deputy Chairman of Sotheby’s Asia and Chairman of International Jewellery, Asia said, “Throughout the sale there was broad-based participation by Asian privates along with international trade. The top ten lots show a great variety ranging from coloured stones, diamonds and pearls to jewels of aristocratic provenance, with coloured diamonds selling well over their high estimates.”
Other top lots include:
- A 27.91-carat Burmese Ruby, Diamond and Natural Pearl Bracelet – $3.8 million
- A 41.65-carat IF Fancy Vivid Yellow Diamond and Diamond Ring – $3.6 million (or $86,804 per carat)
- A10.62-carat Burmese Ruby, Onyx and Diamond ‘Panthère’ Ring, mounted by Cartier – $2.6 million (or $247,235 per carat)
- A Pair of 8.05 and 8.03-carat D IF Diamond Earrings – $2.1 million