In many ways the Sotheby’s and Christie’s fall jewelry auctions in Geneva mirrors the trends of recent years in which there is tightening of fancy colored diamonds and the “big three” colored gemstones: rubies, sapphires and emeralds; while signed jewels continues to attract more interest from buyers.
When it comes to fancy colored diamonds and colored gems, collectors are limiting their interest to the most exceptional stones at a time when there appears to be fewer of these stones available. Where the jewelry auction market seems to be showing growth (if fewer headlines) is in signed jewels. Parisian jewelers, Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, are the most sought after in this category, followed by other well-known high jewelry houses such as Boucheron, Bulgari and Harry Winston. The results of the Geneva auctions confirm that this remains the case. However, other jewelry designers and contemporary jewelers are gaining in popularity among bidders.
Another item of note is that contemporary London jewelry house, Moussaieff, appeared prominently in both sales.
The Sotheby’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale on November 13 was dedicated to 20th Century signed jewels, with a particular emphasis toward Art Deco pieces.
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“The magic of Art Deco continues to exert its spell on collectors around the world, with so much of tonight’s rich offering racing away,” David Bennett, worldwide chairman, Sotheby’s Jewellery Division, said in a statement following the sale.
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The top lot of the Sotheby’s sale was an Art Deco bracelet made by Cartier in 1927, set with a 46.07-carat Burmese cabochon sapphire, flanked by two pear-shaped D color diamonds weighing 8.60 and 9.27 carats. It sold for more than $6.1 million, shattering its high estimate of $3 million. The lot was part of a group of jewels from a collector identified as an “Asian-American.” Overall, the private collection achieved $12.7 million with 93% sold, according to Sotheby’s.
Sotheby’s added that the Art Deco jewelry category in the sale achieved a combined total of $9.6 million, against a high estimate of $6 million. Other Art Deco highlights included:
* From the same Asian-American collection, a sapphire and diamond clip brooch by Cartier from 1937 featuring a distinctive geometric fan motif sold for $328,348, well above its $250,000 high estimate.
* An emerald and diamond pendant/brooch combination by Cartier in 1927 with cabochon emeralds from Colombia sold for more than $1 million, more than four times its high estimate of $250,000.
* A diamond and rock crystal sautoir by Chaumet in 1929 sold for $529,397, just above its $500,000 high estimate.
When it came to signed jewels, Christie’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels sale on November 12 had all the usual subjects. However, its biggest focus in this category was given to Pierre Sterlé, who Christie’s says is “emblematic of 1950s and 1960s jewelry.” A total of 28 pieces by Sterlé sold, fetching more than $1 million. In some cases pieces sold for double, triple and quadruple the estimates, according to the auction house.
Overall, both auction houses had successful sales. Christie’s Geneva, with its 256 lots on offer, saw total sales achieve more than $55.2 million, with 93% sold by lot and 88% sold by value. A total of 12 lots sold for more than $1 million.
The top lot of both sales, as expected, was a 7.03-carat fancy deep blue rectangular-cut VVS2 diamond mounted on a platinum ring by London high jewelry house, Moussaieff, which sold for more than $11.6 million (more than $1.6 million per carat), within estimates.
Colorless diamonds were among the next two top lots. A 46.93-carat D color, internally flawless diamond with a half-moon modified brilliant-cut fetched more than $3.13 million ($66,800 per carat), below estimates. A 25.20-carat rectangular-cut, D color, VVS2 clarity diamond ring sold for more than $2.5 million ($100,595 per carat), above estimates.
This was followed by a 32.49-carat rectangular-cut, fancy light purplish pink, VS2 diamond ring that sold for more than $2.5 million, weighing ($78,024 per carat); and a 39.19-carat Ceylon rectangular-cut sapphire brooch by Cartier that fetched ($50,900 per carat).
Laurence Graff was quite busy during the sale, buying two items that were among the top 10 lots. The first (the number five lot) was a diamond pendant centered with a 42.97-carat Burmese octagonal-cut sapphire for more than $2.5 million ($58,995 per carat), within estimates; followed by a 39.19-carat Ceylon rectangular-cut sapphire brooch (number seven lot) by Cartier for nearly $2 million ($50,900 price per carat), nearly triple the $700,000 high estimate.
Sotheby’s, with 446 lots on offer, saw total sales achieve more than $53.9 million with 79.6% sold by lot. (The auction house didn’t release the percentage of total value.)
The top lot, as already mentioned, was the Art Deco bracelet made by Cartier in 1927, set with a 46.07-carat Burmese cabochon sapphire that fetched $6.1 million, doubling its $3 million high estimate. The number two lot was a 6.03-carat fancy intense purple-pink diamond pendant that fetched more than $3.3 million ($556,251 per carat), within estimates.
The number three lot was a 78.29-carat diamond pendant that sold for more than $2.9 million ($374,230 per carat), just above the high estimate. It was purchased by Samer Halimeh New York, a dealer in rare diamonds.
A diamond parure that includes a necklace, earrings and bracelet by Moussaieff sold for more than $2.6 million, within estimates. This was followed by a diamond necklace, circa 1890, set with a 14.97-carat Kashmir sapphire that sold for more than $1.3 million, well above its $800,000 high estimate.
A 14.69-carat heart-shaped very light blue diamond fetched more than $1.2 million ($88,031 per carat), double its $600,000 high estimate.