|The Historic Pink Diamond|
Sotheby’s auction of Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels in Geneva will likely serves as a test of the strength of the auction market for jewelry, which has had some lackluster sales recently. The May 12 sale at the Hôtel Beau-Rivage includes an historic pink diamond, an important ruby, several significant Cartier pieces and five bejeweled tiaras.
The sale is led by two gems. The first is the 8.72-carat “Historic Pink,” which the auction house describes as an “extremely rare and highly important” Fancy Vivid Pink diamond. According to the Gemological Institute of America, it’s believed to have been part of the collection of Princess Mathilde, the niece of Napoleon Bonaparte. The stone, which has VS2 clarity, is also distinguished by its classic non-modified cushion cut, unusual in a pink diamond, Sotheby’s said.
The pre-sale estimate is $14 to $18 million.
|The Sunrise Ruby by Cartier|
The 25.59-carat “Sunrise Ruby” by Cartier is described as a “unique treasure of nature” by the Swiss Gemmological Institute. The ruby has not received any heat treatment and the color is described by that famous auction moniker for exceptional rubies, “pigeon’s blood” red: the rarest and most sought-after of hues.
Its estimate is $12 million to $18 million.
|Diamond necklace by Cartier|
It is one of four jewels by Cartier from the same private collection. The other statement piece is a diamond necklace of more than 190 carats. Custom-made for the owner, it is designed as a cascade of diamonds, the front accented with a floral motif and suspending a fringe of nine pear-shaped stones. Its estimate is $6 to $10 million.
|Kashmir sapphire and diamond brooch, Cartier|
The other pieces are a brooch set with a 30.23-carat Kashmir sapphire (estimate: $3.5 million - $6 million); and sapphire and diamond earrings, made with two Burmese Mogok sapphires of 15.77 and 16.90 carats (estimate: $800,000 - $1.2 million).
|Diamond Cartier tiara, 1930s|
Provenance is a constant theme of this sale and one of the most important items of Noble ownership is a collection of jewels that includes three tiaras from the Estate of Mary, Duchess of Roxburghe. They are led by a piece created by Cartier in the 1930s (estimate: $300,000 – $500,000); and intricate tiara/necklace composed of fleurs de lys and confronting scroll motifs, swing-set with a graduated row of twenty superb pear-shaped diamonds (estimate: $300,000 – $500,000); and a delicate ruby and diamond creation (estimate: $80,000 – 100,000).
Mary, Duchess of Roxburghe is the granddaughter of Rothschild heiress Hannah and British Prime Minister the Earl of Rosebery, whose wedding to the Duke of Roxburghe brought together two of Britain’s great aristocratic families, according to the auction house.
In addition to the three tiaras from the Roxburghe Estate, the auction will offer a two other tiaras for a total of five very fine pieces in a single sale, which is extremely rare, according to the auction house.
|Diamond tiara necklace, 1880s|
From the Collection of the Earl of Mar and Kellie, a diamond tiara/necklace, designed in the style of a “tiare russe,” dating back to the 1880s and drawing inspiration from the Russian kokoshniks—traditional fan- shaped head ornaments inspired by the cockscomb. This tiara was worn by the 12th Countess of Mar at the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902 (estimate: $150,000 – $295,000).
The fifth tiara is one made of emeralds and diamonds dating to the early 20th century. The piece is designed as two lines of circular-cut diamonds, surmounted with scroll and fleur de lys motifs, the scrolls topped with drop-shaped emeralds (estimate: $40,000 - $60,000).
No auction is complete these days without at least one signature natural pearl necklace. In this case the jewel is composed of two graduated rows strung with 78 natural pearls ($3 million - $5 million).
There was a noted decline in the number of lots being sold along with their value during auctions in April. For example, Sotheby’s Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels & Jadeite sale saw nearly a third of its lots go unsold—unheard of in recent years. Christie’s New York Magnificent Jewels sale fared a little better with 77 percent of the items sold by (meaning nearly a quarter of the lots went unsold) and 77 percent sold by value, compared with estimates.
A large diamond at Christie’s New York in April was pulled halfway through the auction and several other items didn’t make the reserve price.
Most recently, Sotheby’s New York Magnificent Jewels sale bucked the negative trend with 80 percent of items sold by lot and nearly 85 percent sold by value with 10 jewels selling for more than $1 million. In a nod to the modern way of doing business, four of the top 10 items were sold to online bidders.
The Geneva jewelry auctions are often the most highly anticipated sales on the calendar and Sotheby’s and Christie’s are presenting highly sought after pieces in all categories. So next month will determine whether the slowdown was a temporary occurrence or here to stay.
Please join me on the Jewelry News Network Facebook Page, on Twitter @JewelryNewsNet and on the Forbes website.