There were plenty of positives at Sotheby’s New York Fine Jewels sale. First, 17 lots sold for more than $100,000. In addition, 18 of the top 20 lots exceeded their high estimates.
Overall, the October 17 sale of 377 lots achieved more than $11 million, setting a record for a Sotheby’s fine jewels sale, with 76.7% sell-through rate.
This is impressive for a “fine jewels” auction, which generally offers gems and jewels not exceeding $100,000.
“We saw outstanding prices for white and fancy colored diamonds, especially pear-shaped stones—all of which out-performed their estimates,” said Kendall Reed, head of Sotheby’s Fine Jewels in New York.
The top lot in the sale was a rare 10.68-carat lozenge-shaped Colombian Classic emerald mounted on a ring and accented by baguette diamonds that fetched $1.2 million, smashing its $500,000 high estimate.
“It’s a gem, distinguished by the originality of the cut and by the typical Colombian green that made it achieve the title of ‘Classic’ by the American Gemological Laboratory,” said Max Faerber, director of Faerber Collection New York, a division of the Geneva-based dealer that specializes in gemstones, diamonds and antique jewelry.
For a gem to be given the “Classic” designation by AGL, it must be of top quality and possess gemological characteristics that allow for a very high confidence level in the country-of-origin determination.
Among the other top sales are the following:
* A 1.08-carat heart-shaped fancy vivid purplish pink diamond mounted on a diamond ring that sold for $483,000, well above its $350,000 high estimate.
* A bypass ring by Harry Winston set with a 10.18-carat square emerald-cut diamond and 6.50-carat emerald-cut emerald that fetched $250,000, two-and-a-half times its $100,000 high estimate.
* A ring centered by an 8.96-carat pear-shaped diamond with diamond accents sold for $250,000, well above its $150,000 high estimate.
* A ring centered with an 8.18-carat pear-shaped diamond set between tapered baguette diamonds with a fluted gold jacket designed by David Webb. It sold for $225,000, well above its $150,000 high estimate.
Faerber says he saw some things that excited him beyond the top lots.
“There were a few surprises like the diamond and opal earrings by Tiffany that sold for $75,000 (more than triple its $20,000 high estimate), Faerber said. “They are rare and nicely made, collectible and wearable, iconic of the Art Deco taste. These earrings caught my attention from the moment I saw them.”
He added, “Also remarkable was the result of the 56-carat star sapphire mounted by J.E Cladwell in an Art Deco frame of diamonds mounted in platinum. I found it unusual to find a star sapphire with such an intense blue color, with this size and with such high quality of asterism.”
The ring sold for $137,500, totally shattering its high estimate of $15,000.
The auction offered a selection of jewels in celebration of Van Cleef & Arpels’ 50th Anniversary of their iconic Alhambra design. All four pieces sold, totaling $141,250, more than double their combined high estimate of $66,000.
The sale also offered a number of jewels from private collections, including two that achieved “white-glove” status (sell out). These two collections consisted of eight jewels from the estate of Lois Chalona Hawkins, a prominent philanthropist in New Orleans, which totaled $561,000. The second was 12 jewels on offer from a “Distinguished Family Collection,” totaling $473,000—more than double their high estimate of $202,000.
“There was tremendous enthusiasm for fresh-to-market jewels from private collections,” Reed said. “We were delighted by the response to our presentation of Van Cleef & Arpels’ Alhambra jewels. Alhambra is now recognized as one of the most iconic jewelry designs of the 20th century.”
Faerber noted that the auction results confirm that vintage jewels from heritage brands provide the best investment opportunities.
“In general, the prices of vintage signed jewelry, shows that the likes of Van Cleef, Cartier, Harry Winston, Tiffany & Co. continue to be a sure investment for buyers, unlike modern jewelry that at auction, most of the time, do not reach the price that they do in retail.”