Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels New York December 11 Results

The 61.35-carat emerald ring that was top lot at $4.6 million.

The 61.35-carat emerald ring that was top lot at $4.6 million.

Sotheby’s closing Magnificent Jewels sale of 2013 was held Wednesday in New York and brought in a total of $60 million. The sale was chock full of interesting highlights, which were not your typical record-breaking flawless stones.

The top lot of the day was an impressive emerald ring of 61.35 carats that sold well above its $1-1.5 million estimate at $4.6 million. The top five lots included white diamonds, a natural pearl necklace, and an emerald bracelet.

18k gold, malachite, purpurine and ivory bracelet by Boucheron, circa 1931.

18k gold, malachite, purpurine and ivory bracelet by Boucheron, circa 1931.

The star of the catalog cover was a very interesting and iconic piece by Boucheron that was especially delightful for jewelry historians to see. One such historian, Vivienne Becker, wrote a fantastic piece for the Sotheby’s website on the significance of the bracelet, which I encourage you to read here. In summary, the piece was made in 1931 and is considered a masterpiece of French 20th century jewelry that shows the influence of Africa on the modernist style of the time. It sold for $797,000.

18k gold, platinum, diamond, faience, enamel and lapis lazuli  Egyptian-revival brooch by Cartier, circa 1923, sold for $1.025 million.

18k gold, platinum, diamond, faience, enamel and lapis lazuli
Egyptian-revival brooch by Cartier, circa 1923, sold for $1.025 million.

Also of historical interest were five pieces by Cartier created in the 1920s when Egyptian-revival was all the rage. Already of influence in design for a few decades, it truly exploded following the discovery of King Tut’s tomb in 1922. Louis Cartier was a serious collector of Egyptian artifacts and some of his finds surely influenced these unique pieces. Only a handful were ever made, and the pieces on offer at this auction all sold well above their estimates. Again, a wonderful article on the pieces was written by Vivienne Becker which you can read here.

18k gold, platinum, faience, diamond, colored stone and enamel  'Sekhmet' brooch by Cartier, circa 1925, sold for $845,000.

18k gold, platinum, faience, diamond, colored stone and enamel
‘Sekhmet’ brooch by Cartier, circa 1925, sold for $845,000.

For more information on historically interesting pieces that were offered at auction, click here.

This evening brought the 2013 Magnificent Jewels sales calendar to a close, with sales totals for Sotheby’s reaching over $500 million. I look forward to seeing what 2014 brings!

Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels Geneva November 13 Results

Sotheby's Chairman of Europe/Middle East Jewellery David Bennett leads the auction of the 'Pink Star' diamond in Geneva on November 13, 2013 (REUTERS/Denis Balibouse)

Sotheby’s Chairman of Europe/Middle East Jewellery David Bennett leads the auction of the ‘Pink Star’ diamond in Geneva on November 13, 2013 (REUTERS/Denis Balibouse)

The showroom buzz was palpable yesterday as Lot 372 emerged on a grinning model at the Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels sale in Geneva. After a long pause from auctioneer David Bennett, the opening bid was announced at 48 million CHF ($52 million) for the ‘Pink Star’, a 59.60-carat flawless pink diamond, which had four competing bidders. Note that the opening bid was higher than the final sale price of what was at that point the most expensive diamond, the 24.78 carat ‘Graff Pink’, which was sold in Geneva by Sotheby’s for $46.2 million in 2010. It was thought before the sale that the ‘Pink Star’ would go for $60 million or so, but it quickly climbed past that point and in the end, after five minutes of back and forth, the final total was $83.2 million dollars.

The buyer has been revealed as Isaac Wolf, a diamond cutter in New York, who immediately renamed the stone ‘Pink Dream’. It is the third name for the remarkable gem, which was first known as the ‘Steinmetz Pink’ when Steinmetz bought the 132.5-carat rough stone from De Beers (who mined it in Africa in 1999), and then from a private sale an anonymous buyer in 2007 christened it the ‘Pink Star’. It seems to be said every time a record of this nature is created, but one would think this stone should hold the mantle of ‘most expensive diamond’ for some time. However, things keep coming out of the woodwork!

The newly renamed 'Pink Dream'.

The newly renamed ‘Pink Dream’.

There was still one more lot to go after the pink diamond, which was the Walska Briolette Diamond brooch, featuring a 96.62-carat yellow diamond. It sold for $10.5 million, making it an auction record for a Van Cleef & Arpels piece of jewelry.

Van Cleef & Arpels 'Walska Briolette Diamond' Brooch.

Van Cleef & Arpels ‘Walska Briolette Diamond’ Brooch.

Another record was set for a sapphire at auction, with the sale of an unmounted 114.73 ‘royal blue’ Burmese sapphire for $7.1 million. It had an estimate of $2.8 million.

The record-setting 114.73-carat sapphire.

The record-setting 114.73-carat sapphire.

Speaking of items going well over estimates, it seems that those who determine these things at Sotheby’s were being awfully conservative, particularly on large colored gemstones and natural pearls. I have provided a sampling below of the very notable ones, but it was a widespread trend over the 373 lots, perhaps reflecting a unexpectedly strong shift in tastes.

The Richelieu Sapphire Earrings from the estate of Odile de Richelieu, Countess Gabriel de La Rochefoucauld, Princess de La Rochefoucauld (1879-1974), 26.66 and 20.88 carats. Estimate $2.5-$4.5 million, sold for $8.35 million.

The Richelieu Sapphire Earrings from the estate of Odile de Richelieu, Countess Gabriel de La Rochefoucauld, Princess de La Rochefoucauld (1879-1974), 26.66 and 20.88 carats. Estimate $2.5-$4.5 million, sold for $8.35 million.

A 20.80 carat fancy vivid yellow diamond (Est. $1.7-$2.7mil, sold for $5.2mil)

A 20.80 carat fancy vivid yellow diamond (Est. $1.7-$2.7mil, sold for $5.2mil)

A strand of natural pearls (Est. $1.4-$2.5mil, sold for $5.7mil)

A strand of natural pearls (Est. $1.4-$2.5mil, sold for $5.7mil)

Natural pearl and diamond ear clips (Est. 100-200k, sold for 600k)

Natural pearl and diamond ear clips (Est. 100-200k, sold for 600k)

Bulgari ruby and diamond ring (Est. 25-35k, sold for 346k)

Bulgari ruby and diamond ring (Est. 25-35k, sold for 346k)

Emerald and diamond ring (Est. $98-145k, sold for $1mil)

Emerald and diamond ring (Est. $98-145k, sold for $1mil)

E. Meister ruby and diamond ring (Est. $195-300k, sold for $900k)

E. Meister ruby and diamond ring (Est. $195-300k, sold for $900k)

A sapphire ring ($740-990k, sold for $3.2mil)

A sapphire ring ($740-990k, sold for $3.2mil)

Cartier pink diamond ring (Est. $68-93k, sold for $790k)

Cartier pink diamond ring (Est. $68-93k, sold for $790k)

Alexander Calder Jewelry Exhibit and Sale

Brass necklace circa 1940.

Brass necklace circa 1940.

Alexander Calder’s jewelry is having a bit of a moment.

Brass brooch circa 1943.

Brass brooch circa 1943.

Best known for being a sculptor, Calder (1898-1974) started making jewelry with scraps of copper wire for his sister’s dolls in his first home studio as a boy. He is thought to have created over 2,000 pieces in his career, many as gifts for family and friends including Peggy Guggenheim and Georgia O’Keeffe, and was often inspired by ancient and exotic iconography, adding his own organic twist. Primary materials were brass and steel, and silver later in his career, sometimes with the incorporation of glass, wood or ceramic.

Silver bracelet circa 1945.

Silver bracelet circa 1945.

An unprecedented gathering of his jewelry is being shown in New York at Salon 94, which is holding an exhibition and sale of 40 pieces called ‘Show and Tell: Calder Jewelry and Mobiles’. Gallery owner Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn has brought together the show in conjuction with the Calder Foundation and invited a number of contemporary artists to create new pieces of artwork that used the jewelry. Some created busts to wear the jewelry, while others incorporated them into photographs. A few of his signature mobile scultpures are on display as well and I encourage you to check out the exhibit website for examples of the work if you can’t make it to New York. The exhibition opened November 6 and continues to December 20.

Brass necklace circa 1940.

Brass necklace circa 1940.

In addition, the Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Sale on November 14 will include 18 pieces of Alexander Calder jewelry from the Makler Family Collection (Lot 101-118). Hope Makler was the Philadelphia art dealer of Calder and wore these pieces for many years, which are pictured throught the post, with the exception of the last image.

Brass ring circa 1942.

Brass ring circa 1942.

And finally, you can also read this charming story of a woman who found a Calder necklace at a flea market for $15 in 2005 that sold for $267,750 at Christie’s this September.

The $15 Brooklyn flea market find: a silver Alexander Calder necklace circa 1940.

The $15 Brooklyn flea market find: a silver Alexander Calder necklace circa 1940.

Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels Geneva Auction Preview

The 59.60 carat  'Pink Star' diamond.

The 59.60 carat ‘Pink Star’ diamond.

The day after Christie’s jewel sale in Geneva it will be Sotheby’s turn to wow. On November 13, the Magnificent Jewels sale will be held in the city, with a strong showing of colored stones.

The piece everyone is talking about is, of course, the ‘Pink Star’. Incredibly, the 59.60 carat stone, the largest known fancy vivid pink diamond in the world, is also flawless. Speculation abound on how much it will sell for, keeping in mind that the current record is held by the 24.78 carat ‘Graff Pink’, which was sold in Geneva by Sotheby’s for $46.2 million in 2010. No estimate is given on the Sotheby’s website for this natural wonder and it will be the second last lot of the day.

Another shot of the 'Pink Star' diamond.

Another shot of the ‘Pink Star’ diamond.

Last lot honors go to the legendary ‘Walska Briolette Diamond’ brooch. The fancy vivid yellow 96.62 carat diamond was once owned by the many-times-married opera singer Ganna Walska, who was quite the jewelry connoisseur. In 1971, many pieces of her jewelry were sold at auction and Van Cleef & Arpels picked up this yellow diamond, making the brooch to house it. Each component of the brooch can be separated into wearable pieces, with the wings becoming earrings, the tail another brooch and the diamond a pendant.

The 'Walska Briolette Diamond' brooch by Van Cleef & Arpels.

The ‘Walska Briolette Diamond’ brooch by Van Cleef & Arpels.

There are many more beautiful colored stones coming up for sale, including a pair of sapphire earrings that are unusual for their matched shape and color, a 20.80 carat yellow diamond of exceptional color, a lovely 5.04 carat blue diamond and a 2.05 carat green diamond, among many more. A video featuring some of these pieces has been made by Sotheby’s and you can view it here. And if you are in the market for a sapphire ring, this auction is certainly for you. There are 25 available on my count!

26.66 and 20.88 carat sapphire and diamond earrings (Lot 371).

26.66 and 20.88 carat sapphire and diamond earrings (Lot 371).

A 20.80 carat fancy vivid yellow diamond (Lot 357).

A 20.80 carat fancy vivid yellow diamond (Lot 357).

A 5.04 carat fancy vivid blue diamond (Lot 349).

A 5.04 carat fancy vivid blue diamond (Lot 349).

A 2.05 carat green diamond surrounded by pink diamonds (Lot 310).

A 2.05 carat green diamond surrounded by pink diamonds (Lot 310).

The sale will be held in three sessions, beginning at 10:30am (Lots 1-147), then 2:30pm (Lots 148-297), and finally 7:00pm (Lots 298-373).