Rapaport Magazine

Spring Fever

Christie’s New York auction of Magnificent Jewels continued the buyer trend of purchasing the best of the best.

By Amber Michelle

Earrings with pair of D,FL diamonds weighing 22.60 carats and 22.31 carats sold for $8,565,000. Photo courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd. 2014.
It is no secret that buyers shop the auctions for the rare, the unusual and the never to be seen again. So it came as no surprise that is exactly what sold at Christie’s April New York sale of Magnificent Jewels. Despite the Passover/Easter holiday week timing, the salesroom at the Rockefeller Center location was filled with buyers that included the 47th Street trade, dealers from Europe who come over regularly for the auctions and a handful of privates. Bidding was steady and swift while overall prices stayed at sane levels. A number of dealers who are often at the sale, but were unable to attend due to the holidays, had left bids in advance, so in some ways their presence was felt as well. Overall, the mood in the room was animated.
   The sale totaled $60,561,125 against a presale estimate of $50 million. The 255-lot sale was sold 82 percent by lot and 80 percent by value, with 209 lots bought. This compares to the December 2013 sale that rang up a total of $65,790,125 and the April 2013 auction that tallied up $81,358,700. Fourteen lots sold for over $1 million.
   The top lot of the sale was a pair of earrings with two D Flawless (D, FL) diamonds weighing 22.60 carats and 22.31 carats. The earrings were quickly snatched up and sold for $8,565,000,* or $190,700 per carat, to a trader from the Middle East.
   “White diamonds have plateaued and are adjusting themselves,” notes Rahul Kadakia, Christie’s international head of jewelry. “D, FL are making very respectable prices and even the L color diamonds made good prices.”
   Samer Halimeh, chief executive officer (CEO), Samer Halimeh New York, was in the room bidding actively and placed the winning bids on some large diamonds. He had this to say: “Prices were good. From my own experience, we will get higher prices for big, showy pieces. End consumers will buy a stone that looks white with no imperfections if it has a big look; there will be an increase in prices for those stones.”

Do-Good Diamonds
   One of the highlights of the sale was the five pieces of jewelry from the personal collection of noted animal rights philanthropist Riki Shaw. Inspired by her love for Emma, a dog she adopted 15 years ago, all of the $8,617,000 raised from the sale of the jewels from the Riki and Jerome Shaw collection will benefit Pet Haven Rescue and Hearts United for Animals, allowing these two organizations to maintain their cage-free animal shelters. Purchased by an anonymous buyer, a rectangular-cut 6.10-carat fancy intense pink diamond ring by Harry Winston was one of the highlights of the collection and one of the strong points of the entire sale, landing the number three spot in the top ten. Bidding was steady until it stopped at $5,765,000, or $945,000 per carat, against a presale estimate of $4 million to $6 million.
   One dealer in the room thought that the diamond was the same one that Ben Affleck had famously given to Jennifer Lopez for their engagement. “The pink diamond sold for a very strong price,” notes Mona Lee Nesseth, graduate gemologist (GG), Custom & Estate Jewelry, Laguna Beach, California, who was in New York on business. “The shape and cut were beautiful. There was even distribution of brilliance and color and the stone had a very pleasing pink color.”
   Color of all sorts did well at this sale — whether a colored diamond or a colored gemstone, demand was there and prices were strong. Shailesh Jhalani, CEO and president of Prompt Gem Importers, noted that the sale was mixed. “Only high quality was selling and it was selling to the Far East and Middle East. Americans bought quality too. Colored stones and colored diamonds sold strongly. Greens, blues and pinks were strong. Yellow is soft. White diamonds in the midrange were soft, but D,IF diamonds were strong.”
   Dealers were enthralled by a 3.60-carat square-cut fancy intense green diamond. The stone was lively with a very unusual bright green color. “That was a special stone and rare in that it was well over 3 carats and a strong color,” says Kadakia. It sold for $1,205,000 against an estimate of $800,000 to $1.2 million.

History Sells
   Provenance and signed jewelry are also very helpful features for pieces being sold at auction and one piece that had it all was an emerald and diamond brooch by Van Cleef & Arpels (VCA). The centerpiece of the brooch was an emerald that had originally been in the diadem of Marie-Louise, the second wife of Napoleon. The diadem was part of a parure given to Marie-Louise by Napoleon for their wedding in 1810. The empress left the diadem to her aunt, Archduchess Elise, and one of the archduchess’ descendants sold it to VCA in 1953. The emeralds were removed from the diadem by VCA and reset in other pieces, which were then promoted as having belonged to royalty. This particular brooch featuring one of those emeralds was created in 1967 by VCA for American philanthropist Mrs. Sybil Harrington. The brooch sold at Christie’s in 1999 for $178,500. This time around, it sold for $425,000.
   Although bidding was active and prices were strong, this auction seemed a bit more sedate than some previous sales, with prices overall staying within a reasonable range. This sale is an indicator that the trends seen at auction over the past few years continue — competitive bidding with top prices paid for top-quality and unusual pieces.
* All prices include buyer’s premium.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - May 2014. To subscribe click here.

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