MAGNIFICENT GEMSTONE AUCTIONS Q4/20 JANUS JEWELS REVIEW
MAGNIFICENT GEMSTONES AT AUCTION, AUTUMN 2020 — THE RESULTS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT
A year unlike any other; the Covid pandemic saw major auction houses turning to online auctions as never before. But which magnificent jewels managed to shine, regardless? Find out with our autumn auctions review of 2020.
GEMSTONE AUCTIONS : WHITE DIAMONDS
With international travel and in-person viewings severely restricted, the raging pandemic threatened to turn London, New York, Geneva and Hong Kong’s ‘Magnificent Jewels’ auctions into anything but. So, all eyes were on Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong (S/HK), where the season kicked off with a single-lot, live gemstone auction of a Highly Important 102.39-carat White Diamond. The first world-class diamond ever to be auctioned without reserve; the D colour, flawless, oval diamond achieved the highest online bid ever for a jewel ($10.97m), before selling, via telephone, for $15,694,870.
At $153,285 per carat (P/C), the Maiko Star — as the diamond was quickly renamed — gave an early indication that the investment stone market remains strong in these unprecedented times. But the question remained: would the Magnificent Jewels auctions show such resilience, too?
Sotheby’s Hong Kong’s results gave a resounding “Yes”. Big-hitting items included an Impressive White Diamond Ring, with mount by Van Cleef & Arpels . The flawless, 16.38 carat gem — an emerald-cut, D colour stone with excellent polish and symmetry – attracted feverish bidding. VC&A at its most sublime; the eminently wearable jewel’s final price of $2,520,645 matched that of the much larger Maiko Star, carat for carat.
Still on a best of the best theme, a Diamond Pendant Necklace — featuring a pear-shape, D colour, internally flawless principal diamond of 12.85 carats — went to the highest bidder for $1,349,677 (S/HK). An exceptionally rare old stone with the optical transparency of Golconda-type IIa diamonds; the strong per carat price of $105,033 reflected its supreme quality.
Proof that size and purity of colour isn’t everything, though, came via an Impressive Diamond Ring at Christie’s Geneva (C/GVA). Although a 22.11 carat, D colour diamond in a Graff mount, the gem’s awkward, glassy oval cut; obvious marks and SI1 clarity — it was not an attractive stone — saw it sell for $592,482 (just $26,797 P/C). Conversely, at Sotheby’s Geneva (S/GVA), a 9.18 carat Diamond Ring by Cartier made $452,555 ($49,297 P/C) — so almost twice the price per carat for a gem half the size. While the Cartier name helped, such disparity shows the difference an inherently beautiful, well-proportioned stone can make. Although both diamonds were D colour, Cartier’s was an exceptional step-cut stone with two-grades better VS1 clarity.
The cover lot for Christie’s Geneva’s Magnificent Jewels November auction, an Exceptional Pair of Diamond and Coloured Diamond Earrings screamed quality. The stunning three-drop earrings — each with a fancy blue diamond (2.06/2.05 carats), fancy pink diamond (1.07/1.06 carats) and internally flawless, D colour white diamond (10.06/10.03 carats) — were superbly well-matched. A rare feat, they nevertheless sold just below estimate for $2,745,370 to a private collector. Well purchased, some might say.
GEMSTONE AUCTIONS: COLOURED DIAMOND RESULTS
Not in a generation have two important red diamonds been offered for sale in a single season — but this autumn saw the rarest of all diamonds causing a stir at both Sotheby’s New York (S/NY) and Christie’s Geneva. At the latter, a Fancy Purplish-Red Diamond and Diamond Ring by Graff perfectly illustrated the cross-over from signed vintage jewel to important jewel. The exceedingly rare, 1.05 carat gemstone, coupled with the Graff name, trounced its high estimate and sold for $2,772,000 — setting a new record price of $2,640,000 per carat (P/C) for a Fancy Purplish-red diamond sold at auction.
Meanwhile, at Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels auction, the “Noor Red” — a fancy red heart-shaped diamond of 1.71 carats (suspended in a basic pavé-set diamond necklace) — sold for £3,166,000. The rarest of the rare, only thirty or so fancy red diamonds of gemstone quality are known to exist, with most of these diamonds weighing less than half a carat. A solid investment stone, the “Noor Red” is deemed by the GIA to be a “magnificent example of a very rare coloured diamond” that exists within the “exalted realm” occupied by other renowned red diamonds such as the Moussaieff Red . However, although a more desirable colour than Christie’s Graff stone, the Noor’s heart-shape and SI2 clarity saw it achieve a considerably lower carat price of $1,851,461.
November saw the largest Purple-Pink diamond ever to appear at auction — the 14.83 carat Fancy Vivid Purple-Pink ‘Spirit of the Rose’ — go under the hammer at S/GVA. The internally flawless Russian gem’s splendid rose-petal colour saw it make $27,378,922, despite its very thick girdle and unfinished back-facets. At $1,846,184 per carat, a big price for what, to the trained eye, is a rather clumsy stone.
Another memorable pink stone appeared as one half of a double act in a Fancy Pinkish Orange Diamond and Diamond ‘Toi et Moi’ Ring. A pretty, very wearable jewel; the ring’s two pear-shaped diamonds — one, a Fancy Pinkish Orange stone of 2.31 carats, the other an internally flawless, D colour, 2.10 carat gem — were the essence of understated sophistication. It sold at S/NY for $252,000. (Fans of pink diamonds can find a very similar stone in Janus Creations’ Pink Diamond Butterfly Necklace .)
Meanwhile, at Christie’s Hong Kong, the fancy intense pink, principal stone of an Impressive Coloured Diamond and Diamond Ring wowed with its unusual, delightful cut and gorgeous mid-candy colour. A glorious, cut-cornered square step-cut diamond of 4.90 carats and VS1 clarity; this truly beautiful stone sold for an impressive $3,747,903, equating to more than $750,000 per carat.
The irresistible combination of big, blue diamond and big name; a Fancy Intense Blue Diamond and Diamond ring by Cartier saw the hammer coming down at $4,472,258 at S/HK ($856,754 P/C). An especially punchy price for an intense blue diamond; the 5.22 carat rectangular modified brilliant-cut stone, although not the most attractive shape and cut, had everything else going for it. Ditto the Fancy Vivid Blue Diamond and Diamond Ring that sold for $927,500 at S/NY. While only 1.08 carats, the pear shape gem had all you could want from a blue diamond.
Another great investment stone was the Superb Coloured Diamond and Diamond Ring at C-G that sold for $3,219,879 ($111,491 P/C). Forget the mount; the sole focus was the ring’s fancy vivid yellow, rectangular-cut 28.88 carat diamond. Superb, vibrant colour; VVS2 clarity; even distribution and an unusual step-cut cut (rare for such a large stone) … the stone spoke for itself. Add to that the deliberate ‘triple 8’ carat count of 28.88 (a number considered highly auspicious by many Far East clients), and this was a gem always destined to fly.
Less so Graff’s Exceptional Coloured Diamond and Diamond Brooch, also at C/GVA. The old stone centrepiece, a Fancy Yellow brilliant-cut diamond of 107.46 carats, had size on its side but little else. The kudos of joining the ‘100-carat Club’ — a key driver for some — helped it achieve the final price of $3,118,198 or $29,017 per carat.
If further evidence were needed that big isn’t always better, it came from S/NY; where a 4.64 carat, Fancy Vivid Yellow Diamond and Diamond Ring sold for a buoyant $239,400. At $51,594 per carat, the small but beautiful diamond hit the upper range for gems of its quality.
GEMSTONE AUCTIONS: SAPPHIRE RESULTS
Notably, an Important Sapphire and Diamond Bracelet, featuring eight Kashmir, cushion-cut sapphires (8.29, 7.83, 6.32, 6.04, 4.67, 3.90, 3.80 and 3.10 carats) sold at C/GVA for a highly respectable $2,393,013. Such an exquisitely well-matched layout of stones is incredibly hard to create — a comparable jewel would be, say, the Patiño bracelet by Cartier — and the final hammer price reflected this. Interestingly, John C. Kulukundis oversaw the stunning piece of jewellery’s inaugural sale, via Phillips, back in the mid-noughties.
The principal stone of a Sapphire and Diamond Ring at C/GVA was another delight. While not the most prized ‘royal blue’, but rather a very attractive mid-velvety tone; the unheated, 13.30 carat, octagonal step-cut Burmese sapphire charmed with its enchanting colour, cut and shape. The sapphire sold for $141,222 — at $10,618 per carat, a comparatively affordable price for such a fine (and, clearly, underrated), jewel.
GEMSTONE AUCTIONS: EMERALD RESULTS
A Colombian Emerald, Diamond and Coloured Diamond Ring — with its 9.26 carat step-cut Muzo emerald and gallery of Argyll pink diamonds — proved quite the head turner at S/HK. Free from signs of oil enhancement (itself a great rarity), the exceptionally clean emerald’s significant size, elegant cut and blueish-green undertone, secured a top price of $1,240,387 ($133,951 P/C).
Bigger still was the 16.24 carat Important Emerald and Diamond Ring at Christie’s Geneva. An octagonal step-cut stone with minor oil enhancement, it was a classic Colombian gem. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a photogenic stone and this, combined with severe restrictions on in-person viewings, resulted in the final price of $367,179 ($22,609 P/C). Conversely, over at Sotheby’s Geneva, another Colombian Emerald and Diamond Ring — with an emerald that, at 8.47 carats, was roughly half the size of Christie’s — went for $197,922 ($23,367 P/C). A fine, old mine stone; while it too had minor oil enhancement, its glorious antique quality deservedly realised more per carat.
Meanwhile, at C/GVA, a pair of Emerald and Diamond Earrings achieved $261,262. Featuring oval-shaped Colombian emeralds of 4.31 and 3.53 carats; the final price — diamonds aside — equated to around $120K per stone. The superbly matched emeralds highlighted the undented demand for top quality. For an example of a magnificent old Muzo stone with very similar attributes, look to Janus Creations’ Exceptional Colombian Emerald ring.
GEMSTONE AUCTIONS: RUBY RESULTS
At well over the magic ‘5 carats’, there was also great interest for Forms’ 6.41 carat Burmese ‘Pigeon’s Blood’ Ruby and Diamond Ring. A wonderful example of an old stone that needs no help to shine; the unheated, cushion-shaped ruby’s considerable size, together with its timeless setting, saw it sell for $2,832,903 ($441,950 P/C) at S/HK.
Janus Jewels provides expert product knowledge of the investment stone market to clients across the world. If you’d like advice on buying or selling a special gemstone, however large or small, please get in touch for a free, no-obligation chat. We’re here to help and happy to answer any questions you may have. We just love jewels!
Please note, where necessary, prices have been converted into
US dollars to allow ease of comparison. Rates at time of conversion were
CHF/USD at $1.098, and HKD/USD at $0.129.
S/HK: SOTHEBY’S HONG KONG
S/GVA: SOTHEBY’S GENEVA
S/NY: SOTHEBY’S NEW YORK
C/GVA: CHRISTIE’S GENEVA
C/NY: CHRISTIE’S NEW YORK
C/HK: CHRISTIE’S HONG KONG
P/C: PER CARAT