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May 2000

by Melanie A. Cissone

Christie’s—Christie’s, which held its Magnificent Jewels and Masterpieces of the Jewelers Art auctions on April 10th and 11th successfully sold $19.2 million of quality gems and beautiful jewelry. This was a 28% increase over the same sale last year.

Simon Teakle, senior vice president and head of Christie’s Americas jewelry department, said the two-day sale “shows that exceptional jewelry pieces at all price levels are highly sought after. Numerous private collectors who had never bought at auction before were active in the sale, indicating the continued strength and growth of the auction market.”

Perhaps the most spectacular item in Christie’s Masterpieces auction was a Belle Epoque green peridot-colored diamond ring of 1.73 cts. Estimated to sell for $300,00 to $500,000, it sold for $886,000 to a private individual; this equates to $512,138 per carat.

With the small percentage of yellow in this diamond, it gives the appearance of being pure green. According to Stephen Hofer, who wrote a description of this ring in the catalogue, “The vivid green color of this diamond makes it exceptionally rare.”

Christie’s sold 359 lots, or 71%, of the 505 lots offered in both auctions.

Among the other stand-out pieces on Christie’s “top-ten” list was a rectangular cut diamond ring of 27.49 carats, D color, SI1 which sold for $1.3 million, or $50,236 per carat, considerably more than the $600,000 – $800,000 estimate. An internally flawless D color, oval cut diamond ring of 18.55 carats sold for $1.2 million, midway between the estimated of $1.1 – $1.3 million. The per carat value of this ring was $65,552.

Also topping a million dollars was a circular diamond ring of 30.83 carats, E color, VVS2 by Cartier which sold for $1,051,000 slightly higher than the estimated $900,000 to $1 million. Christie’s sold its top three pieces to private individuals from Europe, Asia, and the U.S.

Sotheby’s—On the other side of town, on April 12th and 13th, Sotheby’s was experiencing similar success in its Magnificent Jewels sale. Additional jewels at auction at Sotheby’s were the private collections of Mr. & Mrs. Lloyd H. Smith and property from the collection of Mrs. Jocelyne Wildenstein. Wildenstein’s collection is one of the greatest groupings of big cat jewels designed by Cartier and Guillochon, Paris. Of the 477 lots offered in the Magnificent Jewels sale, 367, or 76.94%, were sold for total sales of $16,402,855. The Smith Collection totaled $3.5 million in sales selling 95% of the 61 lots offered.

While none of the jewels outside the Smith collection topped $1 million, there were several diamond pieces in the Sotheby’s top ten sales result list, including several fancy diamonds, mostly set in rings. One was a superb fancy vivid orangy yellow, which sold for $885,750. Another, a highly important fancy vivid yellow diamond ring, pear-shaped, weighing 20.03 carats, sold for $665,750, or $33,237 per carat, halfway between the $600,000 to $700,000 estimated price. An important fancy light-pink diamond ring by Oscar Heyman & Brothers, weighing 10.13 carats, sold for $412,750 or $40,745 per carat.

From the Smith collection, an extraordinary Cartier designed sapphire and diamond bracelet sold for $1.4 million to an American dealer. Seven sapphires, all of Kashmir origin, weighed a total of 58.70 carats and were surrounded by 182 diamonds. Experts agree that Kashmir sapphires are among the rarest of gemstones.

The second highest result of this collection was a magnificent “blue/white” emerald-cut diamond ring weighing 26.95 carats. With a light blue cast, its natural color, the ring sold for $1,050,750 or $39,000 per carat.

At the pre-sale viewing the buzz in the room was about the Wildenstein Big Cat collection. With more than 40 lots, the collection was dominated by cheetah, panther and tiger jewels and it exceeded its high estimate by $382,275 or 25 percent.

Phillips—Toward the end of an exciting week of jewelry auctions was the successful Fine and Antique Jewelry sale at Phillips on April 16th. The sale, with a standing-room-only crowd, realized $1,473,500.

The sale at the auction house, recently acquired by LVMH, sold a round brilliant-cut diamond solitaire, weighing 5.42 carats, sold for $57,500; a pair of diamond drop ear pendants with a line of graduating old European-cut diamonds brought in $57,500, surpassing its pre-sale estimate of $25,000-30,000; and another round brilliant-cut diamond solitaire, weighing approximately 7.70 carats garnered $33,350, also exceeding its pre-auction estimate of $21,000/23,000.”

On a smaller scale, Wm. Doyle Galleries brought the spring sales to a close on April 18th when it offered some 738 lots in its Important Estate Jewelry Auction. Topping the Doyle sales were two diamond engagement rings. One had a center stone of 5.77 carats and sold for $27,000. Another had a center stone of 6.69 carats and sold for $32,000.

Not accounting for the total sales at William Doyle Galleries, approximately $42 million worth of fine jewelry changed hands in New York in March and April.

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