Rapaport Magazine

More Success

Christie’s Hong Kong continues the upward spiral of jewelry sales in a sizzling market.

By Ettagale Blauer
RAPAPORT... The global market for jewelry took another remarkable spin on November 28 when Christie’s Hong Kong Magnificent Jewelry and Jadeite Jewelry event concluded with the sale of a 31.92-carat D flawless briolette pendant for $3,208,324*. The diamond was suspended from a 4.36-carat kite-shaped emerald and a 3.22-carat marquise-cut diamond on a double chain set along its length with emeralds and diamonds. The exquisite piece, illustrated on the catalog cover, went to a private buyer and put an emphatic exclamation point on a tremendous sale that totaled $47.3 million. The briolette was the largest of this cut ever to appear at auction in Asia and the sale total set a new record for jewelry auctions in Asia.

Just two weeks earlier, both Christie’s and Sotheby’s saw tremendous sales in Geneva that totaled nearly $100 million. Hong Kong buyers who were once significant players at those sales now have their appetites for jewelry satisfied much closer to home with well-honed sales geared to their specific tastes.

Vickie Sek, director of jewelry and jadeite jewelry for Christie’s Asia, said, “We have strong buyers from all over Asia and throughout the world, including Russia. However, the strongest are those that come from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. These buyers have great purchasing power and they defeated competition from those in Europe and America. Indeed, this reflects Asia’s current strength and power in the global market and jewels play a big part as both ‘profitable’ and ‘pleasurable’ investments.”

In addition to the briolette, eight of the top ten lots in this sale were bought by Asian privates. Only one lot went to the trade: Chatila, the high-end retail jeweler, bought an unmounted rectangular-cut D color IF diamond weighing 20.22 carats for $2,488,724, well above the high end of the presale estimate. The paperwork from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) indicated the clarity “may be improvable to flawless.”

Every one of the top ten lots sold for more than $1 million, including three jadeite jewelry lots. At sales in Hong Kong over the past several years, jadeite has taken a bit of a back seat to Western jewelry. In this sale, it competed nicely, although two of those three lots came in close to the low estimate.

Only the Best
The well-known Hong Kong taste for only the best was expressed in a Kashmir sapphire and diamond ring. The 25.45-carat cushion-shaped sapphire was set in a platinum and 18-karat gold ring and flanked by shield-shaped diamonds. The piece carried two certificates, one from Gübelin and the other from SSEF Swiss Gemmological Institute, both stating that the 25.45-carat sapphire was of Kashmir origin with no indications of heating. The sapphire was sold for $1,769,124, well above the high estimate.

An extremely beautiful mounting set the stage for a 15.01-carat cushion-shaped diamond. The stone was rated DIF and its extraordinary beauty was reflected and refracted by the mounting, which featured tiny diamonds set on the prongs that held it in place. The diamond exemplified the ‘watery’ appearance and exceptional optical transparency of type IIa diamonds, usually associated with the Golconda region of India. The ring brought $2,056,964, also over the high estimate.

A marquise-cut D color SI2 diamond weighing 41.24 carats sold just over the high estimate, and with good reason. The stunningly beautiful stone, suspended from a double link chain and prong-set in 18-karat white gold, fetched $1,553,224. The chain was further set with pear-shaped drops and two round diamonds that linked the two chains.

This stone, although marquise-shaped, had a round elegance reminiscent of the briolette that concluded the sale.

While some single-stone ruby lots failed to sell, a pair of ruby earrings, each set with a cushion-cut ruby weighing 4.18 and 5.01 carats, respectively, surrounded by smaller cushion-cut rubies, was sold for $1,366,148, just over the high estimate. Each earring was suspended from a square-cut diamond weighing 1.54 and 1.58 carats, respectively, and a diamond-set loop.

A very charming pair of ear pendants, signed by Bhagat, soared over the high estimate, selling for $155,163. Each was comprised of a seed pearl tassel ending in diamond beads and briolette diamonds, suspended from a diamond bead and brilliant-cut link in a four-leaf-clover design outlined with rose-cut and old mine diamonds.

A square-shaped, exquisitely step-cut fancy vivid yellow stone weighing 20.07 carats was sold for $1,481,284. The stone was set within an octagonal frame of pavé-set fancy yellow diamonds. The stone was certified by the GIA as being of natural color and internally flawless clarity.

Jade’s Allure
The top jadeite lot, a three-strand graduated jadeite bead necklace, was sold just above the low estimate for $2,272,844. The elegant necklace comprised three-strand swags, attached to diamond-set links; the back section comprised two strands of beads, all of the beads of vivid emerald green color. The clasp was signed Cartier, Paris.

A bold jadeite suite, set with large oval cabochons and diamonds, with matching earclips, bracelet and a ring, all mounted in 18-karat white gold, was sold for $1,769,124. The suite carried four reports from the Hong Kong Jade & Stone Laboratory certifying that the cabochons were natural jadeite and that no polymer was detected. The necklace featured a detachable large jadeite cabochon. Each cabochon in the necklace was set within marquise and pear-shaped diamonds.

In regard to the specific taste for, and appreciation of, jadeite, Sek said, “I feel that jadeite has yet to grow in popularity on the international scale. Diamonds have been and are always more sought after globally. Jadeite is very much still appreciated by the Chinese connoisseur and is thus limited to the Chinese market.”

The emergence of the Asian market — which covers a wide range of geography, tastes and, especially, buying power — gives all jewelry auctions a far greater reach than they had ten years ago. It is notable that the Russians have found their way to these auctions as well. As in the recent Geneva sales, the new money they bring to the table not only boosts the auction houses’ bottom lines; it makes it less likely that softness in the economy in any one part of the world will severely affect overall auction sales. F

*All prices include buyer’s premium.


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

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