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Markets & Pricing

Looking lively


Buoyant results at Christie’s Hong Kong spelled good news for the ongoing revival of Asian demand.

By David Brough
Solid results by high-profile pieces and a high sell-through rate at the Christie’s Magnificent Jewels auction in Hong Kong underscored the health of the Asian high-value jewelry and gemstone sector.

The November 28 sale, which totaled $64.2 million, saw high per-carat prices across a variety of superbly crafted, rare and beautiful lots spanning natural colored and colorless diamonds, colored gemstones, signed pieces, and jadeite, with 87% of lots selling.

Several new millennial buyers featured in the auction, accounting for 40% of first-time purchasers, Christie’s said.

The sale followed impressive performances from the Christie’s and Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels auctions in Geneva earlier in November. The results highlighted the continuing resilience of high-priced jewelry. Collectors’ determination to find stores of value and potential investments during a period of inflationary fears has buoyed the market.

“The Asian market is rapidly reviving and seeing continued robust demand,” said Vickie Sek, Christie’s international jewelry specialist and deputy chairman for Asia Pacific, speaking to Rapaport Magazine after the sale. This trend “began with our record-breaking sale of the Sakura Pink diamond this spring — which sold for $29.3 million — and continued this season [at the November sale] with a pair of fancy-vivid-blue diamond earrings of 3.06 and 2.61 carats — which achieved $7.5 million — and a fancy-vivid-blue, internally flawless diamond ring of 3.32 carats — which achieved $5.9 million, almost $1.8 million per carat.”

She also expressed appreciation for the high sales rate. “With travel restrictions still in place now, overseas clients were unable to come for the preview, so having achieved 87% by lot and value is indeed a very high performance in an auction.”

High value

Christie’s sold almost all of its leading gem-set jewels in the Hong Kong auction. An overall trend was that collectors, particularly from Asia, were keener on pieces with high-value stones and designs with impeccable craftsmanship. In particular, Sek reported, the sale “showed that Asian collectors have a strong desire for diamonds, colored diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds and jadeites.”

The market for colorless diamonds appears to be on the rise again. Strong performers included two necklaces by design house Ronald Abram with large, fancy-shaped diamond pendants — one a pear-shaped stone of 73.68 carats, and the other a heart-shaped, 36.20-carat specimen. The former brought in nearly $5 million, and the latter $2.8 million. There was also a ring with a 10.63-carat diamond that realized some $221,222 per carat.

Colored diamonds were still highly sought after, especially blue ones such as those in the top two lots: the earrings and ring that Sek referenced, which respectively fetched $1.3 million and $1.8 million per carat. Yellow diamonds were also popular; all of the yellow-diamond lots sold, most of them for well above their high estimates — specifically lots 1897, 1898, 1899, 1957 and 1958 (see Auction Results, Pages 40 to 45). A fancy-intense-orangey-pink stone (lot 1960) fell within estimates.

Keen on green

Jadeite jewels again achieved impressive results in the Christie’s Hong Kong sale. One noteworthy example was a necklace and bracelet set from Cartier in jadeite, rubies and diamonds. It sparked a 10-minute competition between two phone bidders, eventually selling for eight times its low estimate at $1 million. The pieces had an enthralling green color and were distinctive for the translucency of their 159 round jadeite beads.

A carved jadeite and ruby pendant necklace was snapped up for $3.1 million, just short of its $3.2 million low estimate. Experienced craftspeople had endeavored to preserve the material’s original color, and the engraved Chinese lettering read “Five Blessings in a Row.”

Smaller jadeite items also did well, with a number of lots selling for several times their low estimates.

“The sale showed that rare, large and finest-quality white diamonds are starting to be in demand again,” said diamond specialist Marijan Dundek, who tracked the sale from London. “Colored diamonds, the rapidly reviving white diamonds, and jadeite were in great demand. The auction houses are definitely seeing a swift advance of the jewelry and gemstone market.”

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - January 2022. To subscribe click here.

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