In a press release dated October 20, 2016, Christie’s Geneva has announced the holding of its Magnificent Jewels Sale, on November 15, 2016 at 5.00 pm (GMT), at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues, Geneva. This Geneva autumn sale promises to be a memorable event for more than one reason. While the auctions feature a variety of exceptional jewels designed by leading jewelers/designers such as Bulgari, Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, David Webb, Harry Winston, Rene Boivin and Boucheron, it will also feature a spectacular selection of jewels, celebrating the story of Christie’s and its 250 years as the world’s leading auction house; jewels with a historic provenance as well as two outstanding pieces of jewelry from their first collection, created by Boehmer et Bassenge, launching their new “Maison de Haute Joaillerie” (House of Fine Jewelry) based in Paris. The auction house has also made this landmark auction, a fitting occasion to release a publication, celebrating Christie’s 250th Anniversary, titled “Christie’s: The Jewelry Archives Revealed,” written by Vincent Meylan and published by ACC Publishers.
OUTSTANDING PIECES OF JEWELRY BY BOEHMER ET BASSENGE MARKING THE LAUNCHING OF THEIR “MAISON DE HAUTE JOAILLERIE” IN PARIS.
Top lot of the Sale is Lot 188 titled MIROIR DE L’AMOUR (Mirror of Love) A SENSATIONAL PAIR OF DIAMOND EARRINGS, BY BOEHMER ET BASSENGE, one of the two outstanding pieces of jewelry from the collection of Boehmer et Bassenge, marking the launching of their “Maison de Haute Joaillerie” in Paris. A pre-sale estimate of CHF 20,000,000 – CHF 30,000,000 (USD 20,181,818- 30,272,727) is placed on this lot, which becomes the top lot of the sale based on the highest estimate. However, it is important to note that this lot is offered without a reserve price – meaning that it will be sold, no matter the final price achieved in the auction room.
The “Miroir de l’Amour” ear pendants are the world’s largest perfect pear-shaped diamond drop ear pendants ever to be offered at auction. Each pear-shaped diamond is a D color, Flawless clarity and weighing respectively 52.55 and 50.47 carats, with perfectly symmetrical cuts. The pendants are mounted on diamond cluster surmounts, each cluster consisting of 15 pear-shaped and marquise-cut diamonds. The diamonds in the cluster are also D-color and either flawless or internally flawless clarity. Total weight of the 30 diamonds on the surmount is 20.41 carats. Hence, the total weight of the diamonds in the ear-pendants works out to 123.43 carats. The diamonds are mounted on 18k white gold, and the ear-pendants are signed Boehmer et Bassenge Paris.
GIA reports no. 1172644481 and no. 2175432640 certify that the 52.55-carat and 50.47-carat pear-shaped diamonds are D-color and Flawless clarity, and diamond type classification letters accompanying the reports state that both diamonds are Type IIa, which confirms the D-color status of the diamonds. 30 additional GIA reports accompanying the lot state that the 30 pear-shaped and marquise-cut diamonds on the surmount are all D-color, and either Flawless or Internally Flawless clarity.
The other outstanding piece of jewelry from the collection of Boehmer et Bassenge, also offered without a reserve, is the 3rd highest lot of the sale based on a pre-sale estimate of CHF 8,000,000 – CHF 12,000,000 (USD 8,072,727 – USD 12,109,091). The lot assigned no. 187 is titled LE JARDIN D’ISABELLE (The Garden of Isabelle) – AN EXQUISITE DIAMOND AND COLORED DIAMOND NECKLACE, BY BOEHMER ET BASSENGE. While the rear-half of the necklace is made of a single strand the front-half is made up of two strands.The strands of the 41 cm necklace are composed of a series of vari-cut diamond flower-head clusters. The lower strand in the front is set with two pear-shaped diamonds weighing approximately 31.38 and 12.11 carats, each within a pink diamond-set stylized leaf surround. The upper strand is set with a single round brilliant-cut diamond, weighing approximately 8.07 carats, also within a pink diamond set surround. The diamonds are mounted on 18k white gold and signed Boehmer et Bassenge Paris.
SUPERLATIVE DIAMOND SUITES
Two incredible diamond suites also feature at the auctions, a spectacular necklace by Harrry Winston and a Cartier diamond parure.
The spectacular necklace by Harrry Winston assigned Lot No. 223 and titled “AN IMPRESSIVE DIAMOND FRINGE NECKLACE, BY HARRY WINSTON,” has a pre-sale estimate of CHF 6,500,000 – CHF 8,500,000 (USD 6,559,091 – USD 8,577,273) placed on it. The 41 cm necklace made of platinum and 18k white gold, is composed of a pear-shaped diamond line with pear-shaped diamond cluster drop fringes.There are 17 such fringes in the front of the necklace with a median large fringe, arising from a central large pear-shaped diamond and eight fringes on either side, progressively decreasing in size towards the rear of the necklace. A single pear-shaped diamond is placed between two cluster drop fringes. Fringes towards the clasp of the necklace are made up of a single pear-shaped diamond. There are eight such pear-shaped diamonds on either side of the clasp.
The clasp is made up of a single oval-shaped diamond and seven pear-shaped diamonds. The 18 large pear-shaped diamonds in the necklace, 17 of which are situated in the cluster drop fringes plus the central large pear-shaped diamond, vary in size from 3.05 carats to 19.11 carats. Total weight of the diamonds in the necklace is 128.24 carats. The lot is accompanied by 18 GIA reports certifying that the pear-shaped diamonds ranging in weight from 3.05 carats to 19.11 carats are all D-color and IF to VS1 clarity.
The other diamond suite is a Cartier diamond parure consisting of a necklace and pair of ear-pendants (Lot 214) and a matching diamond ring sold separately as Lot 215. Lot 214, titled “A SET OF DIAMOND JEWELRY, BY CARTIER,” consists of a V-shaped triple-strand necklace and matching pair of ear-pendants with a pre-sale estimate of CHF 1,500,000 – CHF 2,000,000(USD 1,513,636 – USD 2,018,182). The 41-cm, 18k yellow gold, triple-strand necklace consists of an inner strand set with only circular-cut diamonds; a middle strand set with alternating pear-shaped and circular-cut diamonds and an outer strand set with two circular-cut diamonds alternating with two marquise-shaped diamonds with a circular-cut diamond set in-between. The V-shaped necklace suspends a detachable pear-shaped diamond pendant from a centerpiece consisting of a central circular-cut diamond, surrounded by alternating pear-shaped and marquise-shaped diamonds. The detachable pear-shaped diamond weighs 20.40 carats. GIA report No. 2171055087 accompanying the necklace certifies that the 20.40-carat, pear-shaped diamond is G-color (near-colorless) and VVS1 clarity, but potentially Internally Flawless.
The matching pair of ear-pendants each suspends a detachable pear-shaped diamond pendant weighing approximately 5.02 and 5.01 carats, from a spray-cluster surmount centered around a large circular-cut diamond, and consisting of pear-shaped and marquise-shaped diamonds. GIA reports Nos. 1172055259 and 5171055250 accompanying the ear-pendants, certify that the 5.02-carat and 5.01-carat pear-shaped diamonds respectively are G-color and VVS1 clarity, and both potentially internally flawless.
Lot 215 – A DIAMOND RING, BY CARTIER, is part of the Cartier diamond parure in Lot 214, but sold separately at the auction. The lot has a pre-sale estimate of CHF 500,000 – CHF 700,000(USD 504,545 – USD 706,364). Being a ring matching the V-shaped necklace and the pair of ear-pendants in Lot 214, the size 6, 18k yellow-gold ring is also set with a pear-shaped diamond weighing approximately 14.18 carats, flanked on either side by tapered baguette-cut diamond shoulders.The lot is accompanied by GIA report No. 1172055109, certifying that the 14.18-carat diamond is G-color and VS1 clarity.
Two of the rare top-color diamonds that will feature at the auctions are Lots 200 and 178. Lot 200 titled “A Perfect Diamond” is a D-color, Flawless clarity, round brilliant-cut diamond weighing approximately 45.46 carats with excellent cut, polish and symmetry. The lot with a pre-sale estimate of CHF 6,250,000 – CHF 7,250,000 (USD 6,306,818 – USD 7,315,909) is accompanied by a GIA report bearing No. 6177737128, dated 8 August 2016 that states the 45.46-carat diamond is a round brilliant-cut, D-color, Flawless Clarity diamond with excellent cut, polish and symmetry. Diamond type classification letter issued with the report states that the diamond is Type 11a, which confirms its D-color status.
Lot 178 is THE STAR OF SIERRA LEONE VI, one of the 17 satellite diamonds created from the 968.9-carat Star of Sierra Leone rough diamond, discovered on February 14, 1972 at a location 320 km east of Freetown, the Capital of Sierra Leone. Harry Winston purchased the rough diamond from De Beers on October 3, 1972 for a sum of around US$ 2.5 million The rough diamond was subsequently cut into 17 satellite diamonds, with a total weight of 238.48 carats out of which 13 gems were of Flawless clarity, The 22.7-carat “Star of Sierre Leone VI” set on a ring was purchased by the family of the current owner, on December 26, 1973. The stone was slightly re-cut by Harry Winston between 1973 and 1981 to eliminate a feather inclusion. The new weight of the diamond became 21.69 carats and the clarity VVS2. The Star of Sierra Leone VI is an exceptional D-colour, VVS2 clarity, pear-shaped diamond mounted on a size 5 1/2 platinum ring by Harry Winston. The shoulders of the ring are set with tapered baguette-cut diamonds. GIA reports no. 2175703908 of 28 June 2016 and no. 1251615 of 29 January 1981, both state that the 21.69 carat diamond is D colour, VVS2 clarity. Diamond Type Classification letter states that the diamond has been determined to be Type IIa, which confirms the D-color status of the diamond.
Top among the colored diamond lots is Lot 216 – A RARE COLOURED DIAMOND RING – with a pre-sale estimate of CHF 16,000,000 – CHF 18,000,000 (USD 16,186,046 – USD 18,209,302). The centerpiece of this size 6, platinum ring is an extremely rare fancy vivid pink, pear-shaped diamond weighing 9.14 carats, flanked by tapered baguette-cut diamonds on its shoulders. GIA report no. 5171416832 dated 22 June 2016, certifies that the 9.14-carat, pear-shaped diamond has a color-grade of fancy vivid pink and clarity grade of VS2.
Pink diamonds are Type IIa diamonds that are chemically pure but structurally imperfect or plastically deformed diamonds that acquire rare fancy colors such as pink, red, orange, violet, and brown. Their occurrence in nature is less than 0.1% (1/1,000) of all naturally occurring diamonds. Fancy vivid pink is the highest color-grade that can be given to a colored diamond. Among the extremely rare pink diamonds only one in 100,000 diamonds (1/100,000) possess a color deep enough to qualify as “Fancy-Vivid.” Hence the probability of occurrence of a fancy vivid pink diamond is 1/1,000 x 1/100,000 = 1/100,000,000. Hence, the occurrence of a fancy vivid pink diamond in nature is one in 100 million naturally occurring diamonds, which is an extremely rare occurrence indeed !!!
While most pink diamonds exhibit a color modifier like purple, orange, or brown, the 9.14 carat diamond to be offered at Christie’s shows no trace of a secondary color, making it exceedingly rare and attractive. The stone’s even color distribution, combined with a balanced saturated tone, and straight pink hue, qualify the 9.14 carat pink for the coveted ‘Fancy Vivid’ color grading from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).
Another significant colored diamond lot is Lot 155 – A SUPERB COLOURED DIAMOND RING -with a pre-sale estimate of CHF 2,000,000 – CHF 3,000,000 (USD 2,023,256 – USD 3,034,884). The size 6, platinum ring is claw-set with a fancy vivid orange-yellow, octagonal step-cut diamond weighing 10.30 carats, flanked by tapered baguette-cut diamonds on its shoulders. GIA report no. 2171402144 dated 23 December 2015, certifies that the diamond is fancy vivid orangy yellow color with an Internal Flawless Clarity.
Lot 190 is a second pink diamond lot, titled, “A DIAMOND AND COLOURED DIAMOND RING,” with a pre-sale estimate of CHF 800,000 – CHF 1,200,000 (USD 809,302 – USD 1,213,953). However, unlike lot 155, the pink diamond here is much lighter and graded only as a fancy pink, and the weight too is much lesser, only 4.18 carats. The 4.18-carat, fancy pink, pear-shaped diamond is claw-set on a size 6 platinum ring flanked by tapered baguette-cut diamonds on its shoulders. GIA report no. 7228642437 dated 23 May 2016 states that the diamond is fancy pink color and VS1 clarity.
Top among the natural pearl lots is lot 143 – AN IMPORTANT TWO-STRAND NATURAL PEARL AND DIAMOND NECKLACE – with a pre-sale estimate of CHF 2,000,000 – CHF 3,000,000 (USD 2,023,256 – USD 3,034,884). The outer and inner strands of the necklace are respectively composed of 51 and 49 natural saltwater pearls, with diameter varying from 7.50 mm to 12.80 mm. The two strands are joined together by a common clasp at the rear, set with two old circular-cut diamonds mounted in silver and gold.
The pearls lying along the median line of the necklace are the largest in both strands, gradually decreasing in size on either side towards the rear. In the outer strand, 25 pearls are placed on either side of the central large pearl, making a total of 51 pearls. Likewise in the inner strand, 24 pearls are placed on either side of the central large pearl, making a total of 49 pearls. A close examination of the two strands show that the pearls are not all of the same shape, but vary from spherical, to near-spherical, button and oval shapes. The fact that the pearls in the necklace have a variety of shapes and sizes, possibly authenticates there natural provenance. The color of the pearls are white, with a silvery overtone. The luster and orient of the pearls are characteristic of natural saltwater pearls, associated with their thick nacre. The surface quality of the pearls appear to be excellent. SSEF report no. 87755 dated 20 September 2016, states that the 100 pearls in the necklace are all saltwater natural pearls.
Another important natural pearl lot is Lot 221 – THE PUTILOV PEARL, A MID-19TH CENTURY EXCEPTIONAL NATURAL PEARL AND DIAMOND BROOCH, with a pre-sale estimate of CHF 1,200,000 – CHF 1,500,000 (USD 1,213,953 – USD 1,517,442). The centerpiece of the brooch is a button-shaped natural pearl, with dimensions of 18.75 -19.05 X 16.15 mm, set within an openwork foliate diamond-set frame, which in turn is surrounded by a layer of 16, cushion-shaped, old mine-cut diamonds. The weights of the pearl or the diamonds surrounding it are not known as they are still in their original setting and have not been removed. The brooch designed in the 1860s, has a diameter of 5.0 cm. The pearl and the diamonds are mounted in silver and gold. The Putilov Pearl Brooch is believed to have been owned by the great grandchild of Alexei Putilov, a wealthy Russian financier and industrialist, who carried the brooch to Paris in the midst of the Russian Revolution in the spring of 1918.
Lot 146 – A PAIR OF FINE NATURAL PEARL AND DIAMOND EARRINGS with a pre-sale estimate of CHF 800,000 – CHF 1,200,000 (USD 809,302 – USD 1,213,953) is another natural pearl highlight of the sale. The perfectly matching detachable natural drop-shaped saltwater pearls weighing approximately 13.27 and 12.37 carats are suspended by diamond-set bell-caps from a cluster surmount consisting of five pear-shaped and marquise-cut diamonds. Mounted on platinum and gold. Maker’s marks HW for Harry Winston on the surmounts. SSEF report no. 87564 dated 14 September 2016, state that both drop-shaped pearls are natural saltwater pearls, and have a highly matching drop-shape. Ten GIA reports in respect of the marquise and pear-shaped diamonds on the surmounts, state that the diamonds ranging in weights from 1.00 carat to 2.01 carat are D to F color and IF to VS2 clarity.
EXCEPTIONAL COLORED GEMSTONES
Among the colored gemstone lots, top lot based on the highest pre-sale estimate of CHF 2,000,000 – CHF 2,500,000 (USD 2,023,256 – USD 2,529,070) is Lot 208 – AN IMPRESSIVE EMERALD AND DIAMOND RING, BY DAVID WEBB. The size 5, platinum and gold ring is set with an octagonal step-cut emerald, weighing 47.72 carats, highlighted by a marquise-cut and pear-shaped diamond surround and the gallery and shoulders of the ring also pavé-set with diamonds.
Lab reports by AGL and GGL confirm that the origin of the emerald is Columbia with no indications of clarity enhancement and an appendix by GGL states that the emerald possesses a saturated and homogeneous colour, combined with an exceptional degree of transparency. The lot is also accompanied by a certificate of authenticity dated 18 March 2016 from David Webb.
The second highest lot among colored gemstones is Lot 213 – A FINE SAPPHIRE AND DIAMOND RING – with a pre-sale estimate of CHF 1,800,000 – CHF 2,000,000 (USD 1,820,930 – USD 2,023,256). The size 6 1/2, platinum and gold ring is set with a sugarloaf Kashmir blue sapphire, weighing 18.30 carats, flanked by tapered baguette-cut diamonds on its shoulders. Three lab reports by SSEF, GGL and AGL state that the origin of the sapphire is Kashmir, with no indications of heating or clarity enhancement.
Lot 186 – AN EXCEPTIONAL RUBY AND DIAMOND RING – is another significant colored gemstone lot, with a pre-sale estimate of CHF 1,700,000 – CHF 2,200,000 (USD 1,719,767 – USD 2,225,581). The size 6 1/2 white gold ring is set with an oval-cut, pigeon blood-red ruby weighing 7.08 carats, flanked by fancy-cut diamond shoulders. SSEF and GGL reports state that the origin of the ruby is Burma (Myanmar), with no indications of heating, and that the colour may also be called ‘pigeon blood red’.
JEWELS WITH PROVENANCE
Magnificent Jewels Geneva Sale also include several jewels with a historic provenance, such as Lot 220 – A DIAMOND BRACELET, MOUNTED BY CARTIER – with a pre-sale estimate of CHF 500,000 – CHF 700,000 (USD 505,814 – USD 708,140). This beautiful bracelet once belonged to Countess Mona Bismarck (1899-1983), wife of Count Edward von Bismarck, grandson of German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. Being the wife of one of the wealthiest men in America, Harrison Williams, whom she married in 1926, Mona led a glamorous and luxurious life, dividing her time with her husband between residences in New York, Palm Beach, Paris and Capri. She became well known for her glamour and beauty and became a leading fashion icon and a patron of Haute Couture, and was declared the best-dressed woman in the world in 1933, by a syndicate of renowned fashion houses in Paris. She developed a close relationship with world renowned Haute Couture designers such as Cristobal Balenciaga and Monsieur de Givenchy. As a leading American socialite her circle of high society acquaintences included American Presidents Roosevelt and Eisenhower, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Princess Grace of Monaco, as well as an impressive number of writers and actors, including Truman Capote, Erich Maria Remarque, Tennessee Williams, Greta Garbo and Paul Newman. She also built up a valuable collection of fine jewelry, designed by renowned jewelry houses in the United States and Europe, such as Cartier’s and Tiffany’s.
Several years after the death of Harrison Williams in 1953, Mona married her longtime friend, Count Edward von Bismarck, grandson of German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck.
Mona Bismarck constantly re-designed her jewels, following the fashion of her days. Her keen eye for jewellery expanded further than fashion, with jewels in her collection dating back to the 19th century. Like many other jewellery lovers, Mona developed a close relationship with Cartier. They created, designed and re-designed many pieces of her collection. Lot 220 is a splendid diamond bracelet, mounted by Cartier and based on 19th century designs. Mona’s Jewelry collection first came up for sale three years after her death in 1983, in Geneva on 13th of May 1986. Lot 220, the DIAMOND BRACELET, MOUNTED BY CARTIER was also sold at that time, and the present owner of the bracelet has now put it up for auction again at the Christie’s Magnificent Jewels Sale coming up on November 15, 2016.
The 15.5 cm platinum and gold bracelet, designed by Catier in the 1960s, has as its centerpiece a 7.13-carat, marquise-cut, colorless diamond within a collet-set old mine-cut diamond frame, consisting of 12 colorless diamonds. The bracelet is bifurcated on either side of the centerpiece and similarly set with articulated collet-set old mine-cut diamonds. GIA certifies that the 7.13-carat, marquise-cut diamond, is E-color and Internally Flawless Clarity and Type IIa, underwhich D, E and F diamonds fall, being chemically pure and absolutely colorless. GGL certifies that the 7.13-carat, marquise-cut diamond is D-color and Internal Flawless Clarity and Type IIa, with the finest water. D to F color Type IIa diamonds are chemically pure and absolutely colorless and sometimes described in superlatives, such as diamonds of the finest water; whiter than white; brighter than bright; purest of the pure etc.