Rapaport Magazine


Christie’s Hong Kong auction achieved the highest total ever for a jewelry sale in that city.

By Mary Kavanagh
Ruby and diamond Crimson Garland necklace by Etcetera sold for a record $6,402,240.
Photo courtesy Christie’s.
The results of Christie’s Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels 2013 autumn auction were “astonishing, to say the least,” according to Vickie Sek, director of the jewelry and jadeite department at Christie’s Asia. “Asian clients bid competitively with collectors from all over the world and helped achieve world-record prices for a ruby necklace, an orangy pink diamond and a pair of natural pearl ear pendants,” she said.
   The sale totaled $111.3 million, making it the highest total ever for any jewelry auction in Hong Kong. The 309-lot sale was sold 86 percent by lot and 91 percent by value. This compares to Christie’s Hong Kong spring sale in 2013, which brought in a total of $82.9 million, and the November 2012 auction, which achieved $75.2 million. “Four lots sold for more than $5 million and 27 lots over $1 million, making the November 2013 sale one of the most exciting and successful sales ever hosted in Hong Kong,” Sek said.
   More than 300 bidders turned up for the beginning of the auction, requiring additional seating to be installed. “The salesroom was extremely packed,” Sek said. “The mood in the auction room was optimistic and filled with excitement. Some people bid fervently for the lots and others were eager to see history made.”
   The jadeite and/or diamond rings and pendants were especially popular among in-room bidders. There was a great deal of bidding activity and many of those present seemed anxious to secure one of the auction lots. If they were unsuccessful in an early bid for their first-choice item, they continued bidding on subsequent lots until they secured one of the coveted gemstones.

Ruby Necklace Record
   Diamonds and rubies dominated the top lots sold. One of the main attractions, a magnificent ruby and diamond necklace by Etcetera dubbed the Crimson Garland, achieved a new record price for a ruby necklace. Designed by Edmond Chin, contemporary jewelry designer and founder of Etcetera, the necklace is comprised of 35 rare, unheated Burmese rubies weighing 87.78 carats in total. It was sold to a private Asian telephone bidder for $6,402,240*. All the rubies used in the necklace are vivid pigeon’s blood red, with two centerpiece cushion-shaped rubies, each weighing more than 10 carats. A ruby dubbed The Regal Ruby also was a top attraction. This oval-shaped 13.21-carat Burmese ruby ring was flanked by half-moon diamonds and mounted in 18-karat white and yellow gold. Highly contested, it was purchased by an anonymous telephone buyer for $5,966,784.

Diamonds Dazzle
   The top auction lot was a triple EX diamond rivière necklace containing both D Flawless and D Internally Flawless stones. Designed as a graduated line of 52 brilliant-cut diamonds, ranging in size from 1.07 carats to 7.14 carats, and mounted in platinum, it was bought by a private Asian buyer for $8,144,064. A D Internally Flawless diamond fringe necklace by Harry Winston also proved popular and was sold to an Asian private buyer for $5,095,872.
   Among the colored diamonds on offer, the highlight was a rare oval-shaped fancy intense orangy pink VVS1 diamond weighing 12.85 carats, set within a brilliant-cut diamond border and pear-shaped diamond surround and joined to a brilliant-cut bifurcated diamond half-hoop. This ring was sold to an anonymous buyer for $4,950,720, setting a new world-record price for an orangy pink diamond and a new world record per carat price of $385,000 for an orangy pink diamond. The previous record was held by a square-cut fancy intense orangy pink VS1 diamond weighing 10.19 carats, set in a ring, that was sold at a Christie’s New York auction in June 2010.
   A unique pair of natural pearl and diamond ear pendants dubbed the Empresses of the Orient achieved $3,354,048, another new world record for a pair of natural pearl ear pendants. The earrings each consist of a perfect button pearl and a drop pear-shaped pearl, beautifully matched in size and color, separated by a diamond cap. They sold to a private Asian buyer.

Competitive Bidding
   Bidding for most items was very competitive, not just the top lots, and Sek appeared pleasantly surprised by some of the prices achieved. A good example was a jadeite and diamond pendant that was sold for $651,282 — ten times the low presale estimate. “The price stunned everyone present,” Sek said, despite the pendant’s vivid color and notable translucency.
   Sek also cited a rare pigeon’s blood red 8.99-carat Burmese cushion-shaped ruby and diamond ring by Harry Winston that “set all the telephone lines ablaze and bidding ensued feverishly until the hammer price of $3.9 million, or an electrifying $437,500 per carat.” In another instance, following “some fierce bidding,” a 14.95-carat D, VVS1 oval-shaped ring was sold for $1.5 million, almost double the low estimate. “It is quite high for a diamond that has a market price on it,” Sek said, referring to the current market price for a diamond of similar size, color and clarity.

Selective Clients
   The auction left no doubt that buyers want top-quality gemstones. “Top-quality diamonds, rare colored diamonds, Burmese rubies and sapphires, Kashmir sapphires, Colombian emeralds, natural pearls and vivid emerald green jadeite are still on top of the list,” Sek said. She added that every season the auction house sources the highest-quality and rarest items that its customers — primarily private clients from Hong Kong, Mainland China, Taiwan, Indonesia and the Middle East — expect. “Our clients are very selective, so the gemstones all have to be of gem-grade quality for beauty and investment purposes.”
   Hong Kong continues to cement its place as a major auction center alongside Geneva, London and New York. “My team and I were thrilled with the result,” Sek said. “The atmosphere was good, bidding was active and both buyers and sellers were happy.”
*All prices include buyer’s premium

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

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