Emerald: An Opulent New Book from Thames & Hudson

The 'Baroda Necklace' commissioned by Sita Devi, Maharani of Baroda,  from Van Cleef & Arpels set with 154 carats of emeralds.

The ‘Baroda Necklace’ commissioned by Sita Devi, Maharani of Baroda,
from Van Cleef & Arpels set with 154 carats of emeralds.

Just published by Thames & Hudson is a sumptuous new book all about a certain mythical green stone. Titled ‘Emerald: Twenty-one Centuries of Jewelled Opulence and Power’, the book delves into the long history and significance of the gemstone, going through the trade from ancient times to modern. There are many beautiful images of historically important pieces, jewels from private collections (a number of which are being seen by the public for the first time), celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor and Angelina Jolie in their beloved own pieces, as well as examples of the best in contemporary design. Contributions to the text come from Joanna Hardy, a respected jewelry historian, Jonathan Self, a globe-trotting author and journalist with a personal love of emeralds, and Franca Sozzani, the editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia who puts emeralds into the context of fashion and art.

Emeralds are, of course, having quite the year, with the shade being named the 2013 Pantone Color of the Year, but also with the extensive promotions done by Gemfields and some truly amazing pieces commanding very high sums at auction. Hopefully the resurgence in popularity of emeralds, and other colored gemstones, is not a quickly passing trend.

This book is now in the Gem Standard Library.

Cover of 'Emerald: Twenty-one Centuries of Jewelled Opulence and Power'

Cover of ‘Emerald: Twenty-one Centuries of Jewelled Opulence and Power’

The 'Eternity' necklace by Cartier circa 1997, containing two 200+ carat emeralds  (© Cartier/Cartier Archives)

The ‘Eternity’ necklace by Cartier circa 1997, containing two 200+ carat emeralds
(© Cartier/Cartier Archives)

An emerald, rock crystal, moonstone and diamond Seaman Schepps bracelet,  circa 1940, that once belonged to Andy Warhol.

An emerald, rock crystal, moonstone and diamond Seaman Schepps bracelet,
circa 1940, that once belonged to Andy Warhol.

The Cartier engagement ring of the Duchess of Windsor, featuring a 19.77-carat emerald.

The Cartier engagement ring of the Duchess of Windsor, featuring a 19.77-carat emerald.

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)

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).