Rapaport Magazine

Collectors’ delight

Top diamonds and jadeite were in high demand at Sotheby’s Hong Kong.

By David Brough

Two breathtaking bangles led the Sotheby’s Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels sale on April 20, where Asian demand for exceptional, investment-grade diamond and jadeite jewelry was buoyant.

The most anticipated lots were a diamond and rock crystal bangle by Cartier featuring a pear-shaped, 63.66-carat white diamond, and a remarkable jadeite bangle weighing 277.67 carats. The former fetched HKD 46.9 million ($6 million) — comfortably within estimates — while the latter achieved HKD 30.4 million ($3.9 million).

The sale totaled HKD 418.6 million ($53.9 million), with over 40% of the lots exceeding their high estimates. More than 80% of the lots went to Asian collectors, according to Sotheby’s.

Investing in quality

The Hong Kong sale reinforced a trend seen in high-value jewelry auctions since the start of lockdown: people seeking to invest in rare and beautiful items.

“The results demonstrate a resilience in the market for top-quality jewelry,” Wenhao Yu, deputy chairman of jewelry for Sotheby’s Asia, told Rapaport Magazine. “Collectors’ taste in the region remains selective, with eyes on rare, investment-grade jewelry, from diamonds and gemstones to jadeites.”

Diamond consultant Marijan Dundek echoed that sentiment. “Market trends are starting to show that collectors and international buyers are interested in large, exceptional-quality diamonds, signed unique jewelry pieces, and jadeite, which is especially popular in China.”

In addition to high-end diamonds, Yu reported, “pieces with a unique design appeal — whether period, contemporary or signed — remain popular with collectors in Asia. International collectors are also increasingly sophisticated about jadeite jewelry, with imperial green and grade-A jadeites receiving the most attention, [and] bids coming in from greater China, Jakarta and London.”

Lots that performed

Other highlights of the latest sale included an unmounted emerald-cut, 39.88-carat, D-flawless, type IIa diamond, which sold for HKD 28 million ($3.6 million). This confirmed the appetite for high-quality large diamonds, less than a week after Sotheby’s New York sold a 41.50-carat, D-flawless, type IIa diamond for $4.9 million.

Sotheby’s Hong Kong introduced a strong collection of jadeite jewelry this season, which generated a lot of interest in the sale. Among the most anticipated of those lots was a jadeite, diamond and ruby necklace consisting of 47 slightly graduated, intense-green jadeite beads, which sold for just over HKD 23.4 million ($3 million). There was also a pair of imperial green jadeite earrings that brought in nearly HKD 7 million ($895,080) — a record for jadeite cabochons of imperial green color.

Estate jewelry was not the focus of the sale, but signed pieces from private owners performed well.

“Overall, we offered over 150 lots of signed jewels in the last three Magnificent Jewels auctions in Hong Kong,” said Yu. In aggregate, “more than 130 lots were sold, [totaling] more than HKD 300 million [approximately $38.6 million], with an average lot value of HKD 2.2 million [about $283,300]; over 53 lots were sold at or above [their] high estimates, and more than 90% of them sold to private collectors.”

A hybrid success

The record-setting jadeite earrings also became the April sale’s highest-value lot to go to an online buyer. The event took place in a hybrid format, with online bidding preceding the more dramatic live auction.

“We saw 50% of the lots offered receiving advance online bids, while 62% of bidders participated in the sale online, which demonstrates that our clients are getting used to participating in auctions digitally,” commented Yu.

Dundek, who regularly advises participants in Sotheby’s and Christie’s jewelry sales, observed the same acclimation to placing digital bids. “The Sotheby’s presentation of a new, innovative format, a hybrid of online advance bidding, turned out to be a big success,” he said.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - June 2021. To subscribe click here.

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Tags: David Brough