Sotheby’s 2016 second autumn jewelry sale, “Important Jewels” was held successfully at its York Avenue auction house in New York, on September 22, 2016. A total of 221 lots were on offer at the auctions, out of which 153 lots were sold, giving a percentage sale of 70% by lots. The sale total achieved at the auctions was USD 8,607,250 including Buyer’s Premium.
Surprisingly, top lot of the sale was a colored gemstone lot, a signed piece by Bulgari, with Lot No. 219 and titled, “Sapphire and Diamond Ring, by Bulgari.” A pre-sale estimate of USD 250,000-350,000 was placed on the lot, which sold for an enhanced hammer price of USD 706,000, which was 2.8 times the lower estimate of USD 250,000 and 2 times the upper estimate of USD 350,000. The centerpiece of the size 3 1/2, gilt platinum ring, signed Bulgari, is a prong-set, 24.72-carat, cushion-cut, blue sapphire highlighted by a cluster of two rows of pear-shaped diamonds, with a total weight of approximately 9.00 carats and mounted on gilt platinum. The sapphire is a richly saturated, medium deep, slightly violetish-blue gemstone and certified by AGL and GGL, that it is of classic Burmese origin, with no indications of heating. The pear-shaped diamonds are approximately F to G color (colorless to near-colorless) , and having an average clarity of VS.
The 2nd and 3rd highest selling lots of the auction were both diamond rings, the diamonds being mounted on platinum. Lot 220 was the second highest selling lot, titled “Platinum and Diamond Ring.” A pre-sale estimate of USD 300,000 to 400,000 was placed on the lot, which sold for an enhanced price of USD 634,000 twice the lower estimate of USD 300,000 and 1.5 times the upper estimate of USD 400,000. The centerpiece of the size 3 1/2, platinum ring is a marquise-shaped, D-color, VVS2-clarity diamond, weighing 10.10 carats, flanked by two baguette-cut, E-F Color, VVS-VS clarity diamonds mounted on its shoulders. GIA report accompanying the lot certifies that the marquise-shaped, 10.10-carat diamond is D-color and VVS2-clarity, but potentially Flawless. Type classification letter by GIA certifies that the diamond is Type IIa, which confirms the D-color status of the diamond. The 4Cs of the diamond, particularly the D-Color status, the potential Flawless clarity apart from the weight of 10 carats and the excellent marquise-cut of the diamond, undoubtedly had a bearing on the enhnced hammer price of the diamond.
The 3rd highest selling lot of the sale was Lot 138 – also titled “Platinum and Diamond Ring.,” with a pre-sale estimate of USD 275,000-325,000, but sold for a slightly enhanced price over the upper estimate, for USD 394,000. The centerpiece of the size 5 3/4, platinum ring is a square emerald-cut diamond, weighing 10.02 carats, flanked by trapeze-cut diamonds mounted on the shoulders weighing 1.75 carats. GIA report accompanying the lot states that the 10.02-carat, square emerald-cut diamond is G-color and VS1-clarity. The diamond in the 2nd highest selling lot is D-color and potentially Flawless clarity, whereas here the diamond is G-color and VS1-clarity. This difference is clearly reflected in the hammer price difference of the two lots.
The trend of the auction was similar to the Sotheby’s London Autumn Fine Jewels sale held the day before on September 21, 2016, at which signed jewelry from reputed designers and manufacturers and of antique and vintage value sold for much enhanced prices. Accordingly the 4th, 5th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th lots are all signed lots from reputed jewelry houses.
Lot 218, the 4th highest selling lot of the sale registering a hammer price of USD 340,000 which was 2.3 times the lower estimate of USD 150,000 and 1.7 times the upper estimate of USD 200,000, is a signed lot by Van Cleef & Arpels. The lot is titled, “18k Gold, Sapphire and Diamond Pendant Necklace and Ear Clips by Van Cleef & Arpels,” The centerpiece of the detachable pendant-brooch is a square cushion-cut yellow sapphire, weighing 84.90 carats, surrounded immediately by a layer of pave-set round brilliant-cut diamonds, which in turn is surrounded by a single layer of prong-set, cushion-cut blue sapphires. Outside the layer of blue sapphires is a discontinuous layer of bezel-set round brilliant-cut diamonds. Total weight of round brilliant-cut diamonds approximately 7.45 carats. The pendant/brooch is signed Van Cleef & Arpels and numbered NY 37918.
The 21 inch (53.34 cm) necklace is set with 7 modified cushion-cut yellow sapphires , one rectangular cushion-cut yellow sapphire placed in a median position from which hangs the detachable pendant-brooch, and the other six square cushion-cut yellow sapphires placed in symmetrical positions, three sapphires on either side of the median line. Total weight of yellow sapphires approximately 145.00 carats. The median rectangular cushion-cut yellow sapphire is surrounded by a layer of oval and cushion cut blue sapphires. Two oval-shaped and cushion-cut blue sapphires are placed between two cushion-cut yellow sapphires, except at the rear of the necklace, where four blue sapphires are placed. Thus 16 oval-shaped and cushion-cut blue sapphires are placed on symmetrical positions around the necklace. Total weight of blue sapphires approximately 40.00 carats. The yellow and blue sapphires in the necklace are further accented by round brilliant-cut diamonds with a total weight of approximately 33.50 carat
The matching pair of earclips are set with two modified cushion-cut yellow sapphires weighing approximately 35.00 carats, suspended from two modified cushion-cut blue sapphires, weighing approximately 4.00 carats, accented by round diamonds surounding the yellow and blue sapphires and forming a rosette of round diamonds in between. Total weight of round diamonds approximately 8.70 carats. The pendant part of the earclips are detachable. The earclips are signed Van Cleef & Arpels and numbered 37918.
AGL report accompanying the lot states that the 84.90 carat yellow sapphire is of Ceylon origin, with no indications of heating.
The fifth highest selling lot is a historically important, exquisite turn-of-the-20th-century design by René Lalique, the father of Art Nouveau design in jewelry. He fearlessly combined glass, enamel and semi-precious stones with precious metals like gold, creating Art Nouveau pieces that included stunning flora and fauna designs. Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923), the French actress was a patron of Lalique’s work. On two occasions Lalique designed two serpent-form jewels for Sarah Bernhardt to be used in her role as the formidable Empress Theodora of Byzantine. Lalique was so fond of this motif that around the year 1900 he created a Medusa-inspired ring, featuring a blue glass portrait of Medusa framed by a curving snake,with textured gold scales, accented by green and blue enamel. The serene expression on the blue molded glass face of the Medusa,seem to be at odds with a coiled serpent on its head, poised to strike., with its mouth open and fangs on the upper jaw. The lot titled “18k Gold, Molded Glass and Enamel Ring, René Lalique, France,” and assigned Lot No.151, is René Lalique’s 1900 creation, with a presale estimate of USD 15,000-20,000, but sold for a much enhanced hammer price of USD 322,000 which was 21 times the lower estimate of USD 15,000 and `16 times the upper estimate of USD 20,000. The much enhanced price is undoubtedly due to the provenance and historical importance of the piece, being designed by the deft hands of the renowned and internationally respected jewelry designer himself, and its vintage and collector’s value.
The 7th highest selling lot is Lot 79, titled “Platinum and Diamond Ring, Tiffany & Co.” with a pre-sale estimate of USD 80,000-120,000 but sold for an enhanced hammer price of USD 200,000. The size 6, platinum ring, signed Tiffany & C0, has as its centerpiece a cut-cornered rectangular modified mixed-cut diamond weighing 5.69 carats, flanked by two modified triangle-shaped diamonds mounted on the shoulders of the ring, weighing approximately 0.60 carats. Tiffany & Co. diamond certificate states that the 5.69-carat diamond is G-color and VS1-clarity. The triangle-shaped diamonds are F-G color and VS clarity.
The 8th highest selling lot is also a piece by Bulgari, with Lot No. 221 and titled, “18k Gold, Platinum, Emerald, Colored Stone and Diamond Brooch, Bulgari,” with a pre-sale estimate of USD 40,000-60,000, but sold for an enhanced price of USD 187,500, which was 4.7 times the lower estimate and 3.1 times the upper estimate. The brooch designed by Bulgari in 1967, as a floral motif, has as its centerpiece an oval-shaped cabochon emerald, with dimensions of 23.5 mm X 20.5 mm. The petals are pave-set on 18k yellow gold, with circular and single-cut rubies and pink sapphires on the terminal two-thirds of the petals and pave-set on platinum with circular-cut white diamonds on the basal one-third of the petals. The emerald is of a lively medium-green color, with inclusions typical of emeralds. The rubies are a rich deep-red and the pink sapphires a medium pink. The diamonds are near-colorless with color grades of G to I and VS clarity. Gross weight of the brooch 45 dwt equivalent to 70.2 grams.
The 9th highest selling lot is a stunning Art Deco bracelet created by Cartier in the 1930s, assigned Lot No. 84 and titled “Platinum, Emerald and Diamond Bracelet,” with a presale estimate of USD 150,000-200,000 placed on it. The lot sold within the estimated range for USD 187,500. The highly articulated link bracelet of geometric design, characteristic of the Art Deco period, is bezel-set with five oval-shaped cabochon emeralds with a total weight of approximately 21.35 carats. The bracelet is further accented by circular-cut, old-European cut, single-cut and baguette-cut diamonds, with a total weight of approximately 17.70 carats. The emeralds are saturated, medium to medium-deep, very slightly bluish-green with typical inclusions. The diamonds are F to I color (colorless to near-colorless) with a clarity grade ranging from VS to SI. Length of bracelet 7 inches (17.78 cm), signed Cartier Paris, Londres, New York, on the edges of the two middle links. Being an Art Deco piece created by Cartier, having an antique and vintage value, the lot was already assigned an enhanced value, knowing very well that it would achieve such value at the auctions. This explains why the lot achieved a hammer price within the estimated range.
The 10th highest selling lot is also a piece by Bulgari, assssigned Lot No. 136 and titled, “18k White Gold, Diamond and Onyx Serpenti Wristwatch, Bulgari. The watch is designed as a coiled serpent, with the mouth opening to reveal a watch dial. The head of the serpent and navicular areas on the coiled body of the serpent, are set with circular-cut diamonds. Total weight of the diamonds approximately 5.30 carats. The eyes of the serpent are set with onyx. The diamonds are E to F color, VVS to VS clarity. Quartz movement. Gross weight of the serpenti wristwatch 165 dwt equivalent to 257.4 grams. Inner circumference of watch 5.25 ins. The dial and caseback signed Bulgari. A pre-sale estimate of USD 140,000-160,000 placed on the lot, which was sold sightly above the upper estimate for USD 175,000.