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Sotheby’s Reflects on 10 Years of Records

Dec 25, 2019 8:35 AM   By Rapaport News
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RAPAPORT... The past decade might be known for superheroes, Netflix and memes, but for Sotheby’s it was all about record-breaking jewels, as worldwide sales for the division totaled more than $4.7 billion.

The auction house sold 40,353 items during the decade, including 683 for more than $1 million and 41 topping $10 million, Sotheby’s said last week. The 10 most valuable jewels ever sold at the auction house were purchased over the past decade.

“The last 10 years have seen a complete transformation of the jewelry-auction market, and without a doubt, this has been a defining decade in my 40-year career at Sotheby’s,” said David Bennett, chairman of Sotheby’s international jewelry division. “The revolution of online bidding and social media…[has] led to unprecedented results for unforgettable diamonds and gemstones.”

The CTF Pink Star, a 59.60-carat, fancy-vivid-pink, internally flawless diamond set the record for the most expensive diamond or gemstone sold at auction. It was purchased by Hong Kong jeweler Chow Tai Fook in 2017 for $71.2 million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong.

Two other diamonds had previously set that record during the past 10 years, including the 24.78-carat Graff Pink, which fetched $46.2 million in Geneva in 2010. The 12.03-carat Blue Moon of Josephine, which went for $48.5 million in 2015, also sold for the highest price per carat for a diamond or gemstone, at more than $4 million per carat — a record that still stands.

In 2013, a D-flawless diamond weighing 118.28 carats garnered $30.1 million at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong, setting an auction record at the time for a white diamond. Sotheby’s also holds the world record for a ruby, with the 25.59-carat Sunrise Ruby fetching $30.3 million, more than triple the previous top price.

The sale of the most valuable jewel ever purchased online also took place between 2010 and 2020. That honor went to a pair of diamond earrings, which sold for $6 million in Geneva in 2016.

When it comes to royal jewels, the collection from the Bourbon-Parma family scored the record, making history in Geneva, and breaking a 31-year record set by jewels belonging to Wallis Simpson, the duchess of Windsor. The collection sold in its entirety in 2018 for a total of $53.1 million. Included in it was a pearl pendant that had been Marie Antoinette’s, which went for $36.2 million, more than 18 times its high estimate.

Female purchasing has been on the rise, with the proportion of women taking part in auctions at Sotheby’s increasing 20% since 2010. A growing number of those collectors were under 40, the auction house noted.

Image: Some of Sotheby’s highest-selling items over the past decade, including the CTF Pink Star (top, middle) and Marie Antoinette’s pearl brooch (top, right). (Sotheby’s)
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Tags: Blue Moon of Josephine, Chow Tai Fook, CTF Pink Star, David Bennett, Duchess of Windsor, Graff Pink, Marie Antoinette, Rapaport News, Sotheby’s, Sunrise Ruby, Wallis Simpson
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