In a sea of rare blue gems headlining the sales in this auction season, the red hot Jubilee Ruby – the starring lot in Christie’s New York Magnificent Jewels sale on April 20th – stands apart with its fiery crimson hue. The oval-shaped Burmese beauty, weighing 15.99 carats, sparkles in an iconic ring setting by Verdura. Rarely do rubies of this size and exceptional quality appear at auction when compared to the finest emeralds, sapphires and diamonds. Estimated to sell for $12 to 15 million, the Jubilee Ruby is poised to join the ranks of other notable rubies sold at auction, such as the 25.6-carat Sunrise Ruby that sold at Sotheby’s last May for $30 million.
Rahul Kadakia, International Head of Jewelry: “Top quality Burmese rubies of over 15 carats are an absolute rarity in the world of colored gemstones and the record price of $18.3 million achieved for the 15.04 carat Crimson Red Ruby at Christie’s Hong Kong in December 2015 exemplified the voracious appetite of collectors for these gems.”
At 255 lots, Christie’s spring sale is on the smaller side compared to previous major sales, but packs just as exciting a punch. With estimates from $2,000 to $12,000,000 and a majority of lots offered on behalf of Private Collections and Estates, the sale presents a broad, yet select group of fine gemstones and jewelry that meet the demands of today’s discerning market.
Rare diamonds, both colored and colorless, abound in the sale, led by a 10.07-carat Fancy Intense Purple-Pink diamond and diamond ring (est. $8-12 million). Like the sun’s welcoming rays in spring, a 54.62-carat Fancy Vivid Yellow diamond (est. $1.5-2.5 million) radiates a warming glow. For colorless diamonds, nothing can top a truly flawless round brilliant and the sale features two such exceptional stones: a 40.43-carat D, Flawless, Type IIa round brilliant diamond (est. $7-10 million) and a 14.11-carat D, Flawless, Type IIa round brilliant diamond (est. $1.5-2 million).
A handful of important Kashmir sapphires have emerged this season at the major auctions, and Christie’s New York sale is no exception. Weighing 23.14 carats, a cabochon-cut Kashmir sapphire set in an elegantly simple ring is expected to fetch between $800,000 and $1.2 million.
While the sale itself is gemstone-heavy, there are several covetable pieces sure to cause bidding wars between jewelry collectors. My favorite lot in the sale is a pair of flower cluster earclips by Donald Claflin for Tiffany & Co. (est. $12,000-15,000). Though best known for his whimsical brooches, Claflin designed all types of jewelry for Tiffany from 1965 to 1977 but it is rare to see a pair of his earrings, particularly a pair as charming as these. The intricacy of the tiny flowers composed of precious gems, blue enamel and carved coral illustrate Claflin’s ability to create striking effects using an unusual mix of materials in bold colors.
Another unique and whimsical jewel in the sale is a diamond and platinum bangle by Jean Schlumberger, circa 1940 (est. $30,000-50,000). An early example of his work, this exceptional jewel transposes Schlumberger’s early career designing fashion jewelry for Elsa Schiaparelli to his many successful years creating fine jewelry. The single-palate of white color from the diamonds and platinum differs noticeably from his more typical colorful creations, but the bangle exhibits the same playful nature, with its organic asymmetrical flowers with articulated petals, for which Schlumberger has become best known.
For collectors of jewelry with provenance, the sale includes a piece formerly in the famous collection of the Duchess of Windsor: a leather and gold belt, by Cartier, circa 1960s (est. $60,000-80,000). Set with an assortment of seventeen gold coins from several countries and dating as early as 1327, the belt fantastically illustrates the flair for fashion and elegant style that the Duchess favored. She and the Duke would often collaborate with Cartier, as well as other jewelry houses, to create custom pieces imbued with sentimental aspects, such as the Duchess’s gem-set cross charm bracelet also by Cartier.
More favorites from the sale include: