Rapaport Magazine

Christie’s Hong Kong Triumphs

Very fine diamonds made this sale irresistible

By Ettagale Blauer
RAPAPORT... Who would have believed that buyers would still have $38 million left in their pockets just two weeks after Sotheby’s $40 million sale in Geneva? Yet once again, Christie’s Hong Kong managed a triumphant sale. Perhaps, all those underbidders from Geneva were eager to scoop up important jewelry, especially major white and fancy color diamonds. Christie’s decision to stage its Hong Kong sale well after its rival, Sotheby’s, continues to bear fruit, and what colorful fruit it was.


Christie’s nearly scored a perfect ten with its top ten lots; nine of them made more than one million dollars each, with a marquise-cut D, IF diamond weighing 13.96 carats selling for $1,584,960. The diamond was sold to a European private. This elegant old-cut diamond carried a Gübelin Gemmological Laboratory certificate stating it was a type IIa diamond. Prophetically, the firm had placed this lot on the catalog cover, along with an abstract rainbow of colors; clearly, this was a reference to the fancy color diamonds that filled out most of the top ten.

Four of the top ten lots were D color diamonds, all of them either flawless or internally flawless. The Asian market continues to demand perfection in its white diamonds and willingly pays for them. An exquisitely proportioned flawless heart-shaped diamond weighing 14.16 carats sold for $1,322,880.

Another marquise-cut, D color, IF diamond of 15.05 carats sold for $1,206,400. Considerably plumper than the top lot in shape, it was set in a ring flanked by heart-shaped side stones. This stone, too, was classified as a type IIa diamond.

Fancy color diamonds comprised half of the top ten, led by a pear-shaped fancy purplish pink, IF, 6.88-carat diamond set in a ring with white diamonds. The lot sold for $1,381,120 to an Asian private. As expected, Asian privates picked up eight of the ten top lots, as well as much of the jewelry and jadeite jewelry. But private collectors from China, Russia and the Middle East were strong competitors, according to Vickie Sek, director of jewelry and jadeite for Christie’s Asia.


Catalogs are sometimes given to hyperbole, but this one went straight to the heart of the matter in describing the difficulties in certifying that green diamonds are natural in color. Natural radiation gives green diamonds their color, posing quite a problem for labs. In this sale, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) stated that the 3.07-carat, oval-shaped, fancy intense yellowish green stone was natural color. That was good enough for the Asian private who paid $1,206,400 for this very rare stone.

Sek is an absolute maestro when it comes to placing lots within a sale, an art that cannot be taught. A sale in the West might see one fancy color diamond after another offered in succession. Sek, however, placed her stones with plenty of breathing room, offered some jadeite, then some Western jewelry, and, only then, another significant fancy. It’s refreshing for the buyers, and it lessens the anxiety-provoking drama that takes place when a dozen high-value lots are offered at the tail end of a long sale. The proof is in the bottom line. As an example, the marquise-cut, fancy intense blue diamond weighing 3.04 carats was placed well before the other fancy colors and sold for $740,480. The diamond was nearly overwhelmed by the pear-shaped white side stones and would profit from a more delicate setting, such as that of the purplish pink mentioned above.

Two fancy intense yellow stones sold over their low estimates. An enormous rectangular-cut, VVS2 fancy intense yellow weighing 42.59 carats brought $1,119,040, while a round, VS1 fancy intense yellow diamond weighing 26.48 carats sold for $1,089,920.

A true sign of the times was the sale of a jadeite and diamond suite that made it into the top ten. The necklace, ring and earrings were set with large brilliant green oval jadeite cabochons. The necklace was of traditional Western diamond jewelry design and, with the jadeite, made a true “East meets West” statement. In the past, it would have been more typical to see a strand of jadeite beads take the top price for a piece of jadeite jewelry. It was sold for $1,031,680.

In addition to the headline-grabbing top ten lots, bidders had many other lots of fancy color diamonds and diamond-set jewelry to choose from, including a group of 57 unmounted colored diamonds with a total weight of 19.88 carats. The lot sold for $40,560.

Pearls usually do well in this market. Buyers bid up a set of golden cultured pearl and diamond jewelry, which included an openwork bib collar necklace with both floral and bamboo motifs in 18-karat gold. The set sold for $18,720, three times the low estimate.


Signed period pieces also bring out the buyers. In this sale, a diamond and sapphire panther bangle by Cartier with a crossover design was sold for $436,800, nearly three times the high estimate.

In spite of a certificate stating that it showed indications of heating, a 52.01-carat, oval-cut sapphire set in a ring by Harry Winston was sold for $421,200, nearly the high estimate.

Jadeite jewelry continues to be an important part of any Hong Kong jewelry sale. This one offered a pair of double hoop earrings, a testament to the carver’s skills. Each featured a jadeite loop around a second loop, carved from a single piece of jadeite and suspended from a cluster of diamond beads and a rose-cut diamond. The pair sold for $43,680.

The tremendous range of the jewelry, matched by the high quality of the offerings, demonstrates Sek’s understanding of today’s jewelry market. “In the past,” she notes, “the Hong Kong sales were geared more towards the Asian market only; but today, the world is a much smaller place and our sales in all centers now cater to the global market.” *All prices include buyer’s premium.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - July 2007. To subscribe click here.

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