As if the Magnificent Jewels exhibition at Sotheby’s earlier this week wasn’t dazzling enough, Christie’s had their own Magnificent Jewels exhibition starting Friday, December 7th, here in NYC. It is hard not to compare the two, especially since they had the same names for the exhibition! My previous two viewings at Christie’s were for high-profile auctions — the Elizabeth Taylor auction at this time last year, and the Marilyn Monroe auction way back in 1999. For both of those auctions, there was jewelry as well as clothing and personal effects up for sale. The exhibitions had more of a museum-feel, since you weren’t allowed to touch any of the items. It was nice to be there for the current Magnificent Jewels exhibition since, by comparison to the past auctions, it was much more laid-back and personable. I didn’t even realize until two days ago that Christie’s allows you to try on almost all the jewelry, like Sotheby’s did earlier in the week. What fun!
Again, it is impossibly hard not to compare Sotheby’s and Christie’s jewelry exhibitions, given that they occurred in the same week. The items on display at Christie’s had estimated sale prices that I would consider much more attainable for the general public. Yes, I am going to discuss some very high-priced pieces that I saw there, but of the 300+ lots, there was definitely a good portion that could be purchased by a “regular” person. Meaning, not every piece will go for a million dollars at auction, and the lowest estimated price for a piece of jewelry is $500. Let’s take a look! (Unfortunately, the lighting at this exhibition was low, and although this created an elegant mood, it wasn’t conducive to taking great photos, so you won’t be seeing my own pictures of these pieces on me. I’ll just do my best to describe things well!)
Lot #25, “A Sapphire and Diamond Ring”, estimated at $7,000 – $10,000:
This square-cut sapphire is 7.97 carats, with shield-shaped diamonds on each side, set in platinum. The blue of the sapphire in this photo does not do it justice at all – in person it was a real bright royal blue color, with a little tinge of purple to it. It looked as if it was a man-made sapphire since the coloring was so even. This particular sapphire has been heat-treated to enhance its color, but these kinds of treatments are common with sapphires and are completely allowed as long as they are disclosed properly. A really wonderful sapphire!
Lot #47, “A Colored Diamond and Diamond Ring”, estimated at $20,000 – $30,000:
The center of this ring holds a 2.02 carat fancy yellow diamond, followed by oval-cut pink diamonds and then oval-cut diamonds around the outside. What is always magical to me about attending these exhibitions is that when you get to hold a piece of jewelry, and not just view it at a specified angle in a glass case, it gives you the opportunity to see things you wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. With this ring, if you turn it to the side, you can see lovely detailed scrollwork in the basket of the setting. When you turn the ring completely upside down so that you are looking at it through the bottom of the basket, you see this fantastic little secret. Where the band joins together, there is a little pink heart-shaped diamond that is bezel-set in gold. The diamond is small and adorable, and is a great little touch that only the wearer knows about, almost like a secret inscription. Such a lovely touch!
Lot #131, “A Diamond Bracelet”, estimated at $35,000 – $55,000:
This diamond bracelet has nine strands of briolette-cut diamonds in platinum. As with the briolette-cut ring at the Sotheby’s auction earlier this week, it was great to see briolettes again here. They provided such a wonderful sparkle that really can’t be depicted in a photo. Another pretty feature of this bracelet was the hook clasp, which was completely covered in single-cut diamonds. It matched that overall sparkle and made sure that even if the bracelet moved on your wrist, the clasp side would sparkle as well.
Lot #250, “A Color-Change Sapphire and Diamond Ring”, estimated at $15,000 – $20,000:
This magnificent 18.02 carat modified cushion-cut color-change sapphire set in pink gold made me giddy as soon as I saw it. At auction exhibitions, although every piece is beautiful and special in its own way, diamond after diamond can become…redundant. That sounds terrible to say! They are beautiful, but similar. Getting to see a gemstone like this with such a special phenomenon adds that extra bit of excitement. In the case and on my finger, this sapphire presented as a rich purple hue. Combined with the rose gold it was completely exotic. I wish I had a penlight with me at the auction so I could have seen the color-change to blue, since gemstones like this show color differently depending on the light source. The color in the photo above is how I imagine it would have looked when showing as blue. It’s like two rings in one!
Lot #275, “A Diamond Twin-Stone Ring”, estimated at $35,000 – $55,000:
This platinum ring with two old European-cut diamonds, weighing approximately 7.59 and 6.26 carats respectively, caught my eye for the same reason the earlier color-change sapphire did. It was nice to see a ring that was a little less ordinary, with a design featuring older cut diamonds. It is not a delicate design, and on my finger it had the chunky shape of a men’s ring. My surprise when looking at these diamonds closely was to find that one was heavily included with carbon, and the other was relatively free of inclusions. If you haven’t seen a diamond with carbon inclusions, they look like black spots and flecks in the stone. Whenever this ring was created I’m sure it was more important to find two large diamonds to put in the ring rather than to make sure their clarity matched perfectly. But in the ring, up close, it’s hard not to be distracted by the contrast.
Lot #318, “An Unmounted Circular-Cut Colored Diamond”, estimated at $700,000 – $1,200,000:
This 3.15 carat circular-cut fancy reddish orange diamond is the largest fancy reddish orange natural colored diamond to ever be graded at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), as well as to ever be offered for sale at auction. Red and orange colored diamonds get their coloring from naturally occurring nitrogen and hydrogen during growth. The size of this diamond was not enormous in person, but the color was quite intense. The color very much resembled a garnet. Quite a specimen to behold!
Let’s talk about our last piece, the highest estimated price lot of the auction. Lot #278, “A Magnificent Diamond Ring, by Graff”, estimated at $7,000,000 – $10,000,000:
This rectangular-cut diamond weighs 50.01 carats, is D color (the finest color grade a diamond can have), VVS2 clarity (Very Very Slightly Included), and comes with a working diagram that shows the diamond may potentially be internally flawless. First off, can you imagine being the setter who set that diamond in the ring? He or she must have been scared that one false move could crack or damage the diamond! This ring was showcased at the exhibition in its own case, right next to the area where buyers were meeting with Christie’s staff to discuss potential pieces to buy. This diamond is enormous. All I could do was stare. It’s actually so large that it doesn’t seem like a ring you could wear, kind of like when clothing designers show off crazy avant-garde pieces — they’re not functional, but they represent an idea. There was no trying on this ring, but wow, it was impressive.
The Christie’s auction for this collection starts at 10am tomorrow (Monday). I will be back tomorrow night to let you know the results!
What is your favorite piece from the items I described above? Or are there other pieces of jewelry from the exhibition you fell in love with? While the style of the Colored Diamond and Diamond ring might not be for everyone, I adored the little secret heart in the inside band. I am also interested to see who purchases the 50.01 carat Graff diamond ring. Laurence Graff has bought up a lot of high-priced and famous diamonds lately, and he has been known to buy back his own pieces at auction. This ring is listed as being “jewels from an important private collection”, so unless that person is him, it’s a totally plausible idea. We shall see!
P.S. Although I mention the name Christie’s a million times in this blog post, I was not paid or perked to write about this exhibition. I am simply a lover of gorgeous gems, especially the ones that I get to try on!