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May 2002

The major spring auctions of fine jewelry showed healthy results, with private collectors and the American trade turning out in force to purchase rare diamonds and signed jewelry pieces.

The top sale for the spring auction season was the $2.041 million fetched from a private buyer for a pair of cushion-cut ear pendants of 23.11 and 23.49 carats, D color, internally flawless. The sale, at Christie’s, represented a $43,798-per-carat price for the stones.

At Sotheby’s the top sale was two pear-shaped diamonds weighing 22.04 and 22.11 carats respectively, within platinum mountings, unsigned, purchased from Van Cleef & Arpels in 1968. Both stones were D color, VS1 clarity, with original working diagram stating that the stone may be potentially flawless. The pair sold for $1,659,000, or $37,576 per carat.

Surprisingly, two of the top three sales at Sotheby’s were not diamonds. A carved gemstone and diamond bracelet by Cartier, fetched $933,500 and an emerald and diamond necklace went for $1.08 million. According to auction spokespeople, these sales of designer pieces join those of rare diamonds in representing a market hungry for the unusual.

“Today’s sale was dominated by private American collectors who continue to seek out the most exceptional pieces,” said Simon Teakle, head of jewelry for Christie’s Americas. Teakle also noted that bidding was brisk thanks in part to realistic estimates and an active base of diamond industry bidders.

Colored diamonds were not as prevalent as usual in this sale, with most of the top sales at both houses being white diamonds or–in an unusual twist–other gemstones. Sotheby’s did, however, sell a 3.07-carat important fancy vivid blue diamond ring for $790,500–or $257,491 per carat. The stone was purchased by a member of the trade.

The other top diamond sale of the auctions was an emerald-cut diamond ring of 25.74 carats, D color VS2 by Harry Winston. The piece sold at Christie’s for $886,000, or $34,421 per carat. Christie’s sold 69 percent of the pieces it offered, while Sotheby’s sold 67.34 percent of their lots.

“We are very pleased with the results achieved over the past two days,” said Carlton Rochell, head of Sotheby’s International Jewelry. “We saw strong demand for great jewelry–especially rare signed pieces–from clients around the world.” 

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