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Jewellery auctions autumn 2020



With international travel on go-slow and in-person viewings as rare as red diamonds, the important jewellery auctions of autumn 2020 were almost entirely ‘virtual’ affairs. But, if ever there was a time to “find beauty in small things” it’s now… so, read on to discover the jewelled delights that, even in a lockdown, will make your spirits soar.


A vibrant joy, Cartier’s Magnificent Art Deco Multi-Gem Tutti Frutti Bracelet delighted at Christie’s Geneva (C/GVA). Heavily influenced by the opulent jewellery of Indian royalty, this iconic design never fails to impress – or achieve record-breaking prices at auction houses worldwide. An inspired, exotic twist on an Art Deco classic, the strap bracelet’s colour-popping combination of carved rubies and emeralds; onyx beads and lively single and old-cut diamonds saw it pip its upper-estimate and sell for $1,212,897.

Meanwhile, over at Sotheby’s Geneva (S/GVA), another online auction gem — this time a Cartier Platinum and Diamond Bracelet — confirmed the unrelenting demand for vintage works by the great jewellery house. Set throughout with circular-cut and single-cut diamonds, the circa 1930s openwork strap bracelet sold at auction for above estimate at $96,168. An Art Deco stalwart, strap bracelets were created by all the leading ateliers, including Tiffany and Bulgari . Eternally elegant, they remain as high fashion now as the day they were conceived.

One of our favourite Cartier finds, though, was the Important Sapphire, Diamond and Emerald Brooch at Christie’s Hong Kong. Fashioned in the form of an iris, the spectacular 1940s jewel was previously owned by the French socialite and fashion icon, Daisy Fellowes. Delicately crafted with petals of cushion and oval-cut sapphires, a stem of rectangular-cut emeralds, and baguette and old-cut diamond accents; the artistry was a joy to behold. A sublime, albeit substantial work (with sapphires weighing approximately 80.0 – 95.0 carats, and a further 7.50 – 8.50 carats of white diamonds); it obliterated its estimate ten times over, selling for $636,937.

The buoyant market for superbly wearable jewels continued apace with a Harry Winston ‘Holly Wreath’ diamond necklace, totalling 125.0 carats, achieving $1,271,613 at Sotheby’s Hong Kong’s Magnificent Jewels auction. The ‘definitive’ Winston necklace, designed to accompany his incomparable cluster earrings, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more Winston-esque jewel. As beautiful to behold as it is to wear — this is not a jewel to hide away — Winston’s Holly Wreath necklace remains top of many a collector’s wish list.

Jewelry auctions autumn 2020 rose brooch


Equally sought after are Van Cleef & Arpels’ Serti Mystérieux (Mystery Set) jewels. Remarkable for their invisibly set mosaics of seamlessly matched precious stones; the Ruby and Diamond ‘Mystery-Set’ Bracelet that sold at C/GVA was a prime example. A minimalist beauty: the signed vintage bracelet, with its four rows of calibre-cut rubies and circular-cut diamond edges, realised a solid $268,323.

Enchanting, also, were the Coral and Diamond ‘Rose De Noël’ Earrings by Van Cleef & Arpels — one of the atelier’s most enduring designs — that appeared at Christie’s New York (C/NY). With their delicate coral petals and circular-cut diamond ‘stamens’, the unfailingly chic earrings sold for $45,000: at almost four times the high estimate, a strong price for highly desirable boutique jewellery. (If this is a jewel you’ve set your heart on, do get in touch as we have an exquisite pair currently available.)

This was a good season for prime works by Van Cleef & Arpels. At S/GVA, a pair of 1960s Natural Pearl and Diamond Ear-Clips achieved well over twice their upper estimate and sold for $169,708. A gorgeous traditional design (albeit a little bit ‘granny’!); the earrings showcased button-shaped pearls, exquisitely framed by brilliant-cut and baguette-cut diamonds. Immaculately executed throughout; the perfectly calibrated diamond baguette work was an especially beautiful example of VC&A’s mid-century craftsmanship.

But for VC&A devotees in search of the unusual, Sotheby’s autumn 2020 jewellery auctions were where it was at. At Sotheby’s, Geneva, the room went mad for a 1940s Platinum and Diamond Rose Brooch by Van Cleef & Arpels. An impeccably crafted rose set with circular-cut and baguette-cut diamonds (totalling approximately 16.00-18.00 carats); the sizeable brooch would fill the palm of your hand. We’d certainly never seen another of that size and, going by the fervent bidding that ensued, nobody else had, either. Elevated to an important jewel on account of its rarity; the signed vintage brooch saw the hammer coming down at $183,850 – more than four times the estimate.

Jewelry auctions autumn 2020 sapphire and diamond brooch

Not to be outdone, Sotheby’s New York had the joy of auctioning a superb and extremely unusual Sapphire Mystery Set Brooch by Van Cleef & Arpels . Flawlessly capturing the form of a simple posy — the flower’s petals mystery-set with calibré-cut sapphires, its stem and leaves accented with round and marquise-shaped white diamonds — this was a corsage to die for. An incredibly rare design, the outstanding gem was another perfect example of how signed vintage jewellery can be elevated to the realm of important. Its final sale price of $1,109,000 was bordering on record-breaking.

If this season’s results proved anything, it was that, where signed vintage jewellery is concerned, demand continues unabated and scarcity sells. Although not fully diamond set, a rare Van Cleef & Arpels Retro Diamond ‘Ludo’ Bracelet, sold at C/GVA for a sizeable $233,000. Its old, baguette and single-cut diamonds (of G-H colour and VS-SI clarity), totalled approximately 12-15 carats; yet the 1940s platinum bracelet still achieved a strong price for such a minimalist, retro-jewel.

A pair of Platinum and Diamond Bracelets by Chaumet highlighted the current fashion for substantial statement pieces, by selling for $225,956 — twice their high estimate — at C/GVA. Set with cushion, old and rose-cut white diamonds (with a total approximate weight of 55 – 60 carats); the bracelets were a very good, although not exceptional, example of this Art Deco classic. For those who might have missed out, Janus Jewels is delighted to offer a singularly rare, 1930s Giorgio Bulgari geometric strap bracelet.


Autumn’s online auction season dished up a variety of delights for collectors of René Boivin jewellery, too. Compared with the likes of Bulgari, Cartier etc., Boivin remains largely undiscovered by the wider public. However, the influential French atelier’s vintage work is highly prized by jewellery connoisseurs and investors, alike. Of note were a pair of 1940s Gold and Diamond Ear Clips at S/GVA that screamed ‘Boivin’ and sold for $53,740. Like quivering, bejewelled anemones; the rose diamond-set cones, embellished with gold beads set with circular-cut diamonds en tremblant, danced beautifully on the ear.

Another Boivin beaded beauty — a pair of Boivin Gold and Ruby Bead Ear-clips by Juliette Moutard — appeared at C/NY. An elegant, simple design; the inimitably quirky clips — their beaded clusters like ripe berries — oozed style. Stamped with the maker’s mark (Boivin jewels were seldom ever signed), the clips smashed their $20K high estimate, before selling for $52,500.

Meanwhile, at C/GVA, a Boivin Sapphire and Diamond Torque Necklace doubled its high estimate, selling for $33,893. A relatively recent, probably 1970s work, featuring a revolving central roundel, pavé-set with circular-cut sapphires and diamonds; the chic, understated torque was, by Boivin standards, somewhat pedestrian. In an unknown maker’s hand, such a gem would struggle to achieve five figures — but Boivin’s allure extends even beyond the reign of its great designers, Susanne Belperron and Juliette Moutard, and its jewels always sell well. You can find out more about Boivin, together with an early work by the wonderful Moutard, currently with Janus Jewels, here.

Our final pick of the season, an Early 20th Century Diamond Necklace by Bolin — jeweler to the Russian Imperial Family — delivered both ageless appeal and fascinating backstory. Commissioned by Grand Duke Michael Nikolaevich of Russia; the old and rose-cut diamond choker was gifted by the Grand Duke to his granddaughter, Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, when she wed in 1905. In marrying, Cecile become the last Crown Princess of the German Empire (the ‘last’ element a fact she was blissfully unaware of on the day!). A wonderful aristocratic jewel that’s more than stood the test of time, it sold right on estimate at C/GVA for $164,760, undoubtedly helped by its Romanov provenance.


Whether you’re an avid collector of vintage jewellery or simply a lover of beautiful, small things, if you have a special purchase in mind or a jewel you wish to sell, we’d love to hear from you. We are always happy to answer any questions you may have, so get in touch for a free, no-obligation chat and let’s make your jewellery dreams come true.

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.