Today I ventured to York Avenue on the Upper East Side of New York to see the last full-day viewing of the Magnificent Jewels Exhibition at Sotheby’s before the auction begins tomorrow. It was free of charge, open to the public, and featured jewels from various estate and private collections. The jewelry ranged from period pieces crafted two hundred years ago to creations by the most heralded designers of the 20th century. There were diamonds, pearls, and colored gemstones in all shapes and sizes. Settle in while I show you several of the most amazing pieces!
Having never been to Sotheby’s before, I was struck by how friendly and laid back the whole establishment is. The concierge at the front desk was jovial and quite delighted to greet me, and the employees behind the jewelry counters were happy to take out jewelry to see. Yes, I actually got the chance to try on some of the amazing pieces up for auction. What a thrill!
The crowd was mixed, and there was an area off to the side with designated tables and jeweler’s lamps for true buyers who were being assisted by staff in inspecting the pieces. There was even a school group of adults on a trip to see all the sparkly baubles. Unlike the Elizabeth Taylor auction at Christie’s back in December, the pieces in this exhibition varied quite a lot in style and elegance. There were several pieces that I considered to be a bit tacky, and others I adored, but that was the beauty of it. There was definitely something for everyone there!
Enough talk, let’s get to the beautiful photos!
One of my favorites, and one of the first pieces I walked in to see, was Lot #144, “Platinum and Diamond Bracelet, France, Circa 1930” from the Estate of an East Coast Lady (yep, that’s the real description from the website), estimated at $80,000 – $120,000 USD:
The bracelet is an amazing Art Deco design, and the diamonds have a colorful fire reminiscent of a rhinestone. Since the photo doesn’t show scale very well, the round diamonds that are in the center portions are a large 3.00, 3.00, and 2.90 carats each. Just one of them alone would make a stunning engagement ring! One of the other elements I noticed about this design was the diamond baguettes in the outer sections. They have one long baguette, and then two on each side that are each slightly shorter than the next.
Immediately made me think of the photos that UsWeekly had up yesterday of Angelina Jolie’s new engagement ring that Brad Pitt designed for her!
Lot #142, “Platinum, Emerald, and Diamond Ring”, estimated at $75,000 – $125,000 USD:
As with some of the emeralds at the Elizabeth Taylor auction, this 5.59 carat emerald looks unreal. And by unreal I mean it truly looked looks it is a synthetic, manmade stone. It has a greenish blue hue, but the inclusion in the center of the stone gives it away that it is natural. Can you see it in the picture above? It almost looks like a little feather. The inclusion was actually a bit distracting when looking at the stone, but you have to forgive it, since it isn’t often an emerald of this quality and size can be cut from rough material.
Lot #122, “Pair of Platinum, Tourmaline, and Diamond Pendant-Earrings, Tiffany & Co.”, estimated at $6,000 – $8,000 USD:
The tourmalines in these earrings are absolutely gorgeous. They looked to be about 12×10 millimeters each (with a total carat weight of 24.83), and they have that real vibrant Caribbean blue ocean hue. I could have stared at them all day!
Lot #73, “18 Karat White Gold, Keshi Pearl and Diamond Bracelet”, estimated at $20,000 – $25,000 USD:
The design of this bracelet was so amazing in person. The dark color and shape of the pearls makes them look like small pebbles, and the diamonds weaving in and out give the effect of water running in a stream. A really lovely, artistic piece!
Lot #333, “Pair of Diamond-Pendant Earrings, Circa 1910”, property from the estate of Eunice Joyce Gardiner, estimated at $30,000 – $40,000 USD:
These earrings are so incredibly elegant in person. Again, the photo doesn’t show the scale well, because the center pear-shaped diamonds in each earring could easily make anyone happy as a solitaire engagement ring, weighing in at 4.99 and 4.23 carats each. These earrings would look wonderful with a bridal gown!
Lot #428, “A Very Rare Platinum, Carved Emerald, Emerald and Sapphire Brooch, Cartier, New York, Circa 1920”, estimated at $300,000 – $500,000 USD:
The carving work on this emerald, depicting a Mughal flower motif, is so incredibly intricate. The emerald part is about two inches across, and maybe a quarter of an inch thick. I have no idea how the emerald didn’t break during the carving process, since it looks to be all one piece. You could see through the emerald a bit in certain parts, causing lighter and darker areas in the stone. It was really just stunning to behold.
Hands down the “hottest” area in the auction was cases 14 and 15, where all the engagement-like diamond rings were displayed. They contained Lots #418, #103, #183, #382, and #421.
Lot #418, “Platinum and Diamond Ring”, property from the estate of Nancy B. Hamon, estimated at $500,000 to $700,000 USD:
This marquise diamond, E color and VS1 clarity, weighing in at 12.64 carats, is absolutely gorgeous in person. The photo here doesn’t do it justice. It is incredibly sparkly, and you don’t see any imperfections to the naked eye. It was so lovely to see a less popular shape like a marquise featured in the auction.
Lot #103, “18 Karat Gold and Diamond Ring”, property of a Lady, estimated at $450,000 – $550,000 USD:
In the photo above, the yellow gold prongs and setting look much more apparent than they do in person. In real life, you barely notice the gold at all, you just see the breathtaking 11.08 carat pear-shaped diamond. Like the marquise ring before it, this F color, VVS2 clarity diamond is just mesmerizing, because of the sheer size as well as its complete lack of inclusions to the naked eye.
Lot #183, “Platinum and Diamond Ring”, property from a private collection, estimated at $30,000 – $50,000 USD:
I was drawn to this ring because the design was unlike any of the other rings at the auction, and the 9.99 carat emerald cut center stone was simply stunning. It has a slight yellowish milky color to it, and although it is hard to tell in that kind of jewelry lighting, I would have guessed it had some fluorescence to it. This is one of the rings that I actually had the chance to try on. I knew that Sotheby’s allows people to touch and look at the jewelry, but somehow when I was making small talk with the employee behind the counter I kept stumbling over my words. I guess a diamond ring going for $50,000 on your hand can do that to a girl?
That emerald cut diamond takes up all the space on my pinky finger, from my hand to my first knuckle!
Lot #382, “Platinum and Diamond Ring”, estimated at $75,000 – $100,000 USD:
This ring wound up being my favorite of all the diamond rings I saw at the exhibition. Admittedly, I am a sucker for a cushion cut diamond with a halo setting, and this one weighs in at a lovely 5.02 carats. The band looked to be on the thin side, to the point where I would worry about the stability of the center setting, but when the Sotheby’s employee took it out of the case, I was able to see that from the front view the band looked thin, but it actually had some thickness to it depth-wise. This diamond is a D color, with an SI2 clarity, which I was really surprised by. After taking a very close look, I could see the inclusions that made it an SI2, but somehow they didn’t matter at all, and weren’t distracting in the least. It is always amazing to me how some diamonds can have a lower clarity, but if the inclusions are placed well and the diamond is designed for a beautiful ring, you don’t even notice them. What do you think — should I buy it for a cool $100K tomorrow?
I think I’m in love! ♥
And last, but most certainly not least, is Lot #421, “An Impressive Fancy Vivid Yellow Diamond Ring”, estimated at $1,500,000 – $2,000,000 USD:
Sotheby’s showcased this ring on a small rotating glass table within the case, so you could really see all sides of the ring. This naturally fancy vivid yellow colored diamond is a whopping 23.02 carats, with VVS1 clarity. When you see it up close you don’t even notice the half-moon shaped diamonds on the sides, because the center stone is just so incredible. It felt almost out of this world, it was so unlike anything else.
All of the jewelry listed above will be up for auction starting at 10am tomorrow. You can watch it all happen live on the Sotheby’s website. Also, if you really want to see some of these amazing jewels in person, you have one last chance to get to Sotheby’s tomorrow morning from 10am to 12pm, although you will only be able to see the items that are part of Session 2 (since Session 1 will be auctioning at that time). Or, if you can’t make it to either of those, Sotheby’s has an amazing iPad app that lets you zoom in on the photos, watch videos, and take notes (birthday gift wish list, anyone?). Very handy for drooling over gorgeous gems on the go! Or you can check out their e-catalogue online. I will be following the results tomorrow and will let you know in a separate blog post how much the items sell for in the end. What fun!
Did you get to visit the Sotheby’s auction as well, either in person or online? See any pieces that you adored that I didn’t mention here? Are you as in love with that cushion cut 5.02 carat diamond ring as I am? Sigh 🙂
P.S. Although I mention the name Sotheby’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!
Lot #144 image found here, Angelina Jolie image found here, Lot #142 image found here, Lot #122 image found here, Lot #73 image found here, Lot #333 image found here, Lot #428 image found here, Lot #418 image found here, Lot #103 image found here, Lot #183 image found here, Lot #382 image found here, Lot #421 image found here.