Sotheby’s Important Jewels Auction – Sept 2013

Auction season is upon us, and I am delighted to get back into the fun of trying on jewelry up for sale. Last week Sotheby’s had their Important Jewels auction, along with a viewing of the jewelry a few days prior. These are public viewings that I attend — so if you are ever in the NYC area you should definitely check them out! The salespeople are so sweet, and they let you try on all kinds of fancy jewels. Let’s check out some of the pieces I really liked and what they ultimately sold for!

Lot # 461, “18 Karat White Gold, Amethyst and Diamond Bracelet”, estimated at $20,000 – $30,000 USD:

Image courtesy of Sotheby's

Image courtesy of Sotheby’s

In a sea of diamond jewelry it is always fun to see a stellar colored gemstone piece like this one. The amethysts in this bracelet had a great hue — definitely purple, but with a hint of pinkish red to make it extra vibrant. Plus the faceting on these cut-corner squares was a bit like a radiant-cut. Rather than having straight facets that are parallel to the edges of the stone, they were in diagonal criss-crosses. Couldn’t help but try this one on. Isn’t it stunning?

Lot #461 S 9-2013 Insta copy



Lot #219, “Platinum, Diamond and Colored Stone ‘Rose’ Bracelet, Tiffany & Co.”, estimated at $150,000 – $200,000 USD:

Photo courtesy of Sotheby's

Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s

As long as we’re talking about fun bracelets, this Tiffany & Co. bracelet had such a great visual tale. With it wrapped around your wrist you could trace the story from bottom to top — the growth of the rose with emerald leaves and stem up to the yellow diamond petals, all set against a sapphire blue sky and illuminated by the glistening diamond moon. A special piece!



Lot #203, “18 Karat Gold and Diamond ‘Quadrato” Wristwatch, Bulgari”, estimated at $30,000 – $50,000:

Lot #203 S 9-2013 Insta copySuch a sparkly watch! This Bulgari stunner was actually quite heavy on the wrist. Perhaps it was the 5.15 carats of diamonds and all that gold! Oddly enough this watch did not sell at auction. I guess it just hasn’t found the right new owner yet. Maybe next “time” (yes, that’s a watch pun, I couldn’t help it)!



Lot #135, “Platinum and Diamond Ring, Van Cleef & Arpels”, estimated at $15,000 – $20,000 USD:

Lot #135 S 9-2013 Insta copyThere is always one piece of jewelry at every auction that I fall in love with. This time it was this lovely diamond ring. Isn’t it darling? I love how the surrounding diamonds are not all the same size. The three rounds towards the thumb are smaller, while the four to the right are larger. It’s a slight variation on the traditional symmetrical halo. Makes it special!



Which is your favorite of the bunch? Perhaps the vibrant purple of the amethyst bracelet? Or maybe your everyday watch would enjoy an upgrade to the Bulgari piece? Looking forward to the Christie’s Magnificent Jewels viewing in a few weeks. I will post about it then!

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!


Field Trip: American Museum of Natural History in NYC

If you grew up in New York City, you probably attended at least one school trip to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Maybe it was a fifth grade trip with a school bus full of excited classmates, or a trek on the subway with a friend to complete your high school science homework. AMNH is always there, right across from Central Park, but it’s easy to neglect it as you get older. Well, let’s fix that. Who’s up for a field trip?

Since I’m a gemologist, let’s visit two of my favorite parts of the museum, the Harry Frank Guggenheim Hall of Minerals and the Morgan Memorial Gem Hall. Both are located in a darkened part of the museum with very little overhead lighting, allowing you to really focus on the gems and minerals under their own spotlights. So forgive some of the dark photos!

One of the first specimens on the way to the Hall of Minerals is this amazing stibnite, which is the largest on public display in the world. It weighs almost half a ton, and was found in the Wuling Mine in southeastern China. If you are familiar with hematite, stibnite looks a lot like it in person, but has a lighter, almost blue-grey color.

Right near it is this amazing ammonite shell. Ammonite was a marine animal that went extinct around the same time as dinosaurs did, 65 million years ago. The incredible iridescent effect on the shell is created naturally over the course of millions of years due to high temperatures and high pressure. The colors are so beautiful in person — lots of orange and green!

Along the sides of the Hall of Minerals are some huge gems, like this amethyst. Doesn’t the display look futuristic, as if this amethyst is getting ready to travel to space?

In a nearby display case is an excellent array of opals from Ethiopia. This grouping showcases the various colors of opal so well. It’s also great to see pieces that are still surrounded by some of the host rock. The photo doesn’t show it well, but the middle white opal in the front row is incredibly sparkly. They all show such beautiful play of color!

Let’s move into the Hall of Gems. The pieces in this room are predominantly faceted and polished gems, which is a great transition after seeing so many gems in their more natural form. There are several walls just like this one which display varieties of a particular species of gemstone. Think of it like a family tree. In this photo it is the species beryl, with plenty of aquamarine, morganite, and other colorful variety examples. One of the other displays shows rare and unusual gems — such a great way to see items up close that, unless you’re a gemologist, you don’t normally get to view!

When I was there, a group of elementary school kids with their teacher piled into the Hall of Gems room, suddenly excited after what appeared to be a collective tired slump. All of the kids were frenetically looking on the walls to find their birthstones. Nothing like some gems to get people excited, young or old!

A great reason to visit AMNH on your own is to see some of the gems that I couldn’t get good photographs of (the dark lighting is great for ambiance, but not so great for catching the gemstones on camera!), like the Kazanjian Red Diamond, which at 5.05 carats is one of three red diamonds in the world known to exceed five carats, or the Star of India, which at 563 carats is the world’s largest blue star sapphire. There is also the Patricia Emerald, which at a whopping 632 carats is considered one of the greatest emerald crystals in the world.

A funny moment occurred at AMNH as I walked through the gift shop to the exhibit, as well as on the way out through the same route. The most popular spot in the gift shop was, hands down, the big box of dyed rocks. Maybe it’s the bright colors or the smooth feel of them in your hand, but people were crowded around, small black velvet bags in hand, fervently choosing their favorites from the bunch.

If you saw my teaser of this on Instagram and guessed correctly where I was, congrats!

Well, that ends our tour of the American Museum of Natural History. What was your favorite gem? Have you been there on a school trip as a kid too? Are you excited to go back now and see more of the minerals and gems on your own? I highly recommend it!

P.S. Although I mention the American Museum of Natural History plenty in this blog post, I was not paid or perked to write about this exhibition. I am simply a lover of gorgeous gems!

All photos were taken by me.