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October/November 1998

Aswe learned from the sale of the Jackie O. faux pearls at $211,500, it is frequently the mystique of the wearer, rather than the actual value of the jewelry the brings both the buyers and the high price. However, at this year’s auctions, both the gems and the enchantment were of the highest quality.

Christie’s Fall sale included pieces from the collection of the perennially glamorous Lauren Bacall, retro-style pieces from the estate of Natasha Gelman, noted philanthropist and art collector, and featured a group of important white diamonds.

The centerpiece of the sale included the top selling emerald-cut diamond ring of 18.45 carats (final sale: $1,150,000: $68,000 per carat). However, of the four D flawless diamonds 2, a marquis-cut diamond ring at 21.45 carats, a pear-shaped diamond ring at 12.48 carats were unsold and a round diamond of 12.63 carats was withdrawn from the sale. In a disappointing final analysis, only 50% of the jewels offered by lot were sold. From the Gelman estate Christie’s offered a suite of circular cut diamond and gold jewelry by Bulgari (final sale: $62,000); a cabochon emerald & diamond necklace with a center brooch (final sale: $48,000) and a Van Cleef & Arpels “Ludo-Hexagone” diamond bracelet (final sale: $65,000). Both the emerald and diamond necklace and the bracelet are of 1940s retro style. The proceeds from the sale will benefit the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Trust, a charitable foundation providing grants in support of the arts.

Tony Award winner, model, Broadway and Hollywood star, Lauren Bacall could not help but to add fascination to the jewelry offered from her collection. Highlights included diamond & gold brooch (final sale: $18,000) and ear pendants (final sale: $15,000), both by David Webb. Christie’s also offered a diamond tiara formerly owned by Queen Margherita of Italy (final sale: $165,000), and in Geneva, November 19, will offer for sale the ruby and diamond necklace given to the Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna on her marriage to the Duke of Edinburgh in 1874 by her father Tsar Alexander II.

The real glamour this year, though was to be found at Sotheby’s, New York in the extravagant collection of jewels from the estate of Betsey Cushing Whitney, which sold at 98% to garner a total of $11.83 million..

Throughout his 40 years of marriage to her, John Hay Whitney, founder of the first venture capital company in the U.S., ambassador to the Court of St. James’ in Great Britain and philanthropist, delighted in creating exquisite and highly personal jewelry for his wife. The collection was one of a very personal and romantic nature that reflected both the discerning tastes of the Whitneys and a portrait of their enduring love.

The pieces that appeared at auction included the Van Cleef & Arpels and Schlumberger fancy vivid yellow diamond earclips. They were accompanied by G.I.A. reports stating that both the 6.62 and the 7.08 carat fancy vivid yellow diamonds are potentially flawless (final sale: $827,500). Also to appear was the highly important, idyllic 18-karat gold and diamond necklace of an asymmetrical cascade of leaves and flowers. The work was signed Schlumberger Montures and accompanied by four G.I.A. reports stating that 3 of the stones above 4 carats (the necklace encompasses a total of 72.56 carats) may be improvable and one may be potentially flawless (final sale: $530,500).

And finally, the extraordinary 1955 Cartier blue and white diamond pendant earclips took the highest bid of $5,172,500. One is set with a pear-shaped D color diamond, 11.59 carats (G.I.A. report stating it’s potential as flawless), the other with a fancy “vivid blue” diamond weighing 11.04 carats – the first of it’s kind so designated by the Gemological Institute to come to auction.

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