Blue Belle of Asia’s first public appearance since 1937 at Christie’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels Sale on November 11, 2014

Christie’s Geneva autumn jewelry auctions, titled Geneva Magnificent Jewels Sale will be held on November 11, 2014 at their salesroom in the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues in Geneva. A total of 392 lots will be on offer at the auction to be held in two sessions. Lots 1 – 245 will feature in the first session starting at 1.00 pm, followed by Lots 246 – 392 in the second session starting at 7.00 pm.

The Geneva Sale features an array of top-quality colored and colorless diamonds, exceptionally rare gemstones and natural pearls, signed jewels from leading jewelry houses and designers, including a collection of jewels by JAR, as well as several rare jewels with historic provenance, that once belonged to the jewelry collections of Empress Eugenie of France and the Duchess of Windsor. Based on the pre-sale estimates of the lots ranging from as low as US$1,000 – 1500 to as high as US$ 12 – 15 million, the Geneva sale is expected to fetch a total in excess of US$80 million, a target that would be easily surpassed, given the ever-increasing collector demand for investment quality jewelry pieces and the impressive highest total ever achieved for a jewelry auction of US$154 million, also at a Christie’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels Sale held just six months ago on May 14, 2014.

Lot 392 - Pair of Colored Diamond and Diamond Ear Pendants by Bulgari
Lot 392 – Pair of Colored Diamond and Diamond Ear Pendants by Bulgari

Based on the pre-sale estimates, the auction will be led by a Bulgari masterpiece, a spectacular pair of pear-shaped coloured diamond ear-pendants, bearing Lot No. 392 and titled “A Pair of Colored Diamond and Diamond Ear Pendants, by Bulgari.” Each ear-pendant has a cluster top made of seven marquise and pear-shaped, colorless diamonds from which the detachable pear-shaped fancy vivid blue or pink diamond is suspended. The striking feature of the ear-pendants is the matching shape and size of the two colored diamonds. While the pear-shaped fancy vivid blue diamond weighs 6.95 carats, the pear-shaped fancy vivid-pink diamond weighs 6.79 carats. The total weight of the 14 marquise and pear-shaped diamonds is 19.28 carats. GIA certifies that the 14 diamonds in the cluster range in weight from 1.05 carats to 2.03 carats; the color ranges between D to F and the clarity between VS2 to Internally Flawless. GIA further certifies that the 6.95-carat pear-shaped diamond is fancy vivid blue color, SI2-clarity and the diamond is Type IIb. The 6.79-carat pear-shaped diamond is certified as fancy vivid pink, VS2-clarity, Type IIa diamond.

Lot 348 - Spectacular Sapphire and Diamond Necklace
Lot 348 – Spectacular Sapphire and Diamond Necklace

The sale also includes the 4th-largest faceted blue sapphire in the world, “The Blue Belle of Asia” a cushion-cut Ceylon blue sapphire weighing 392.52 carats, incorporated as the centerpiece of a “Spectacular Sapphire and Diamond Necklalce” and making its appearance after nearly 40 years, since the famous Swiss-based gem-dealer Theodore Horovitz had the opportunity to examine it in the 1970s. The “Blue Belle of Asia” is the 4th-largest blue sapphire in the world after the 486.52-carat “Blue Giant of the Orient” (1st), the 478.68-carat “Queen of Romania Sapphire” (2nd), and the 423-carat “Logan Blue Sapphire,” occupying the 3rd position. The enormous rough stone from which the “The Blue Belle of Asia” was cut and polished in Sri Lanka, was discovered in 1926 in the Paddy fields of Pelmadulla in the center of the Ratnapura (City of Gems) district of Sri Lanka, in Sabaragamuwa (Saffaragam – Land of Sapphires) Province, situated in the South-central region of the island nation. This region had been the most ancient source of sapphires in the world, believed to have reached the court of King Solomon in the 10th-century B.C.

Blue Belle of Asia with diamond tassel pendant suspended from it, in a diamond necklace
Blue Belle of Asia with diamond tassel pendant suspended from it, in a diamond necklace

Information on the exact shape/cut, and weight of the “Blue Belle of Asia” after it was processed in Sri Lanka in 1926, was difficult to locate, but the stone was believed to have been cut as a cushion-shape, the usual cut employed for blue sapphires at the time, with a finished weight of approximately 400 carats and a highly prized “peacock-blue” color also known as “cornflower-blue” and excellent clarity. However, we now know the exact characteristics of the stone, after the legendary sapphires first public appearance since it was sold in Sri Lanka in 1937. As predicted the sapphire has a cushion-cut and weighs 392.52 carats. SSEF and GGL have certified the Ceylon origin of the blue sapphire with no indications of heating. Both SSEF and GGL had spoken in glowing terms about the legendary sapphire. While the SSEF states that the sapphire possesses extraordinary characteristics and merits special mention and appreciation, GGL says the sapphire is one of the largest faceted sapphires the lab has graded to date and possesses a combination of outstanding characteristics.

Enlarged image of the cushion-cut, 392.52-carat, "Blue Belle of Asia" sapphire
Enlarged image of the cushion-cut, 392.52-carat, “Blue Belle of Asia” sapphire

The “Blue Belle of Asia” was among the spectacular collection of gems of the well-known gem and jewelry dealers based in Colombo, Sri Lanka, O.L.M. Macan Markar & Co. Ltd. In 1937, the sapphire was sold to the British Motor magnate, Lord Nuffield (1877-1963), the founder of Morris Motors Ltd. and the philanthropist who founded the Nuffield College, Oxford and the Nuffield Foundation. It is believed that Lord Nuffield purchased the “Blue Belle of Asia” to be presented to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother on her coronation day on May 12, 1937 – something that never materialized. However, it appears that the sapphire entered a private collection and its whereabouts was unknown for the next 35 years, until 1972 when the Swiss gem-dealer had the opportunity to examine it.

Another view of the Blue Belle of Asia dismounted from its necklace setting
Another view of the Blue Belle of Asia dismounted from its necklace setting

The present setting of the “Blue Belle of Asia” is as the centerpiece of a 45.0 cm sapphire and diamond necklace, with a brilliant-cut diamond tassel pendant with oval-shaped diamond terminals suspended from it, and a brilliant-cut diamond neckchain, mounted in gold. A presale estimate of US$6,914,095 – $9,877,278 is placed on the lot bearing No.348, the second most expensive lot in the sale.

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