A Whole Different Set of Magnificent Jewels!

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!

Lot #25 image found here, Lot #47 image found here, Lot #131 image found here, Lot #250 image found here, Lot #275 image found here, Lot #318 image found here, Lot #278 image found here.

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The Results Are In!

Earlier this week, I filled you in on all the fabulous jewelry I viewed at the Elizabeth Taylor gallery auction at Christies. This week these stunning jewels were auctioned off to the highest bidders. Let’s see the results! (Sales totals are hammer price plus buyer’s premium and do not reflect costs, financing fees or application of buyer’s or seller’s credits).

Lot #233, Two Unmounted Heart-Shaped Rubies, estimated at $4,000 – $6,000 USD:

PRICE REALIZED = $80,500 USD

 

Lot #869, Amethyst Geode with Calcite Inclusions, estimated at $2,000 – $3,000 USD:

PRICE REALIZED = $20,000 USD

 

Lot #7, Diamond and Sapphire Ring, estimated at $80,000 – $120,000 USD:

PRICE REALIZED = $722,500 USD

 

Lot #60, A Set of Sapphire, Diamond, and Gold Jewelry, by Mouawad, estimated at $120,000 – $150,000 USD:

PRICE REALIZED = $386,500 USD

 

Lot #56, The Taj Mahal, an Indian Diamond and Jade Pendant Necklace with a Ruby and Gold Chain, by Cartier, estimated at $300,000 – $500,000 USD:

PRICE REALIZED = $8,818,500 USD

 

Lot #26, Emerald and Diamond Ring by Bulgari, estimated at $600,000 – $800,000 USD:

PRICE REALIZED = $3,330,500 USD

 

Lot #20, The Burton Cognac Ring, by Van Cleef & Arpels, estimated at $180,000 – $200,000 USD:

PRICE REALIZED = $2,322,500 USD

 

One of the biggest sales of the night was Le Peregrina, a natural pearl, diamond, ruby, and cultured pearl necklace (not mentioned in my original post). This pearl is one of the most famous in the world, and has a history dating back to the 16th century. The original estimate for this necklace was $2,000,000 – $3,000,000 USD:

PRICE REALIZED = $11,842,500 USD

That is the highest price ever paid for a pearl at auction. I watched the auction live streaming on the Christies website on Tuesday night, and it was intense! After hearing that, I was at the edge of my seat when the final auction of the night was up, the Elizabeth Taylor Diamond ring. Wouldn’t it have to sell for more than La Peregrina??? At one point when the bidding for the ring was slowing down, the auctioneer was actually reminding the audience that this is THE Elizabeth Taylor Diamond!

Lot #80, The Elizabeth Taylor Diamond Ring, estimated at $2,500,000 – $3,000,000 USD:

PRICE REALIZED = $8,818,500 USD

Shocking! I would have sworn that based on the other sales of the night, this ring would have sold for more than it did. Of course, it is still a whole lot of money, but this is the ring that she wore almost every day of her life.

Wondering who the winning bidders were for some of these auctions? People magazine’s Style Watch has a great breakdown of who bought what here (even Kim Kardshian walked away with something from the collection!). Word is that a Korean hotel conglomerate called E-Land purchased the Elizabeth Taylor Diamond and has plans to feature it at their E-World theme park in Daegu. So at least the public will be able to view it again!

Were you shocked by any of the final prices? Can’t wait to see the Elizabeth Taylor Diamond when it is unveiled in South Korea? Have a favorite piece you wish you could have bid on?

Heart-shaped rubies image found here, Amethyst geode image found here, Pear-shaped diamond ring image found here, Sapphire necklace and earrings image found here, Taj Mahal necklace image found here, Emerald ring image found here, Burton Cognac ring image found here, La Peregrina necklace image found hereElizabeth Taylor diamond ring image found here.

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The Elizabeth Taylor Collection

“It would be very glamorous to be reincarnated as a great big ring on Elizabeth Taylor’s finger.” — Andy Warhol

Yesterday I had the privilege of seeing the Elizabeth Taylor Collection at Christies on it’s final day of viewing. The auction began today and will continue in various categories over the next few months. It consists of fine jewelry, costume jewelry, clothing, handbags, luggage, paintings, and much more. Walking into the gallery, I was struck by how many female guests arrived in their finest jewelry, in homage to the late Elizabeth Taylor. I even overheard one older woman relishing a security guard with stories of the time she met and spoke to Elizabeth Taylor long, long ago.

If you didn’t get to see the collection for yourself, let me take you for a guided tour. First off, one of the Christies employees confirmed that the prices listed for each piece were determined as if they did not belong to Elizabeth Taylor. There is no way for them to know what the pieces will actually gather at auction, since bidders may have a fondness for Elizabeth Taylor that is beyond the technical value of the piece.

Imagine room after room filled with women who are excited and slightly pushy, each making jokes about the prices of the pieces and how their husbands should be buying them gems like these. There were plenty of fine and costume pieces in the collection that would be considered tacky to today’s modern woman. Many women I walked past could be overheard muttering the same thing. In turn, it made the pieces that were created in timeless styles that much more stunning.

One of the most delightful things about the auction was the books of “paper jewelry” on sale for $25. It was four panels containing photos of key pieces of jewelry from the auction, perforated around the edges like you would see in a book of paper dolls. You could simply detach the paper and wear these “jewels” around your neck, wrist, or finger. Or as some of the Christies staff so cleverly improvised, you could take your regular pair of stud earrings, poke a hole through one of the “paper” earrings, and wear them as if they were real. It was quite adorable, and was inspired by some paper jewels that Malcolm Forbes gifted to Elizabeth Taylor.

Let’s start with one of my favorites, Lot #233, Two Unmounted Heart-Shaped Rubies, estimated at $4,000 – $6,000 USD:

Perhaps it is my love of colored gemstones, or my gemological upbringing, but these two stones were just stunning. They contained inclusions, but that was part of their charm. Their color was a rich deep red, and their size was equally impressive. I wonder if the final bidder will mount them into a piece of jewelry, or leave their beauty as is?

Lot #869, Amethyst Geode with Calcite Inclusions, estimated at $2,000 – $3,000 USD:

This geode was quite large at 14 inches high, 24 inches wide, and 12 inches deep. The rich purple hue and sheer grandiosity made me wonder when she began collecting such raw gemstones. A real stunner!

Lot #7, Diamond and Sapphire Ring, estimated at $80,000 – $120,000 USD:

The photo above doesn’t do justice to the approximately 16.98 carats of this yellow pear-shaped center stone, or the small sapphires and pear-shaped diamonds surrounding it. This ring was a gift to Elizabeth Taylor from Michael Jackson, and it is the color and size of the center stone that is most impressive about this piece. It has a lovely light yellow hue to it, and is extremely impressive in person. What a generous and lovely gift for one friend to give to another!

Let’s take a moment to talk about one of the non-jewelry auction pieces that I was surprised to see there. In a separate room were featured works of art from her personal collection. There was only one security guard in the large room, and the paintings were on the wall with no glass or cases to protect them. I am consistently impressed by the level of trust that galleries and museums give to their patrons! My favorite painting was a beautiful piece by Vincent Van Gogh, estimated at £5,000,000 – £7,000,000 (approximately $7,800,000 – $10,900,000 in US dollars):

Upon first glance it was obviously a painting by Van Gogh, but what struck me most about this one was the subtle pink color in the sky. Van Gogh was able to capture the fleeting color of an afternoon sky with just a few brushstrokes. I was honored to see this painting up close and personal. For the art enthusiasts out there, there were also some stunning works by Renoir, Degas, and Pissaro on display at the auction as well.

And now back to the sparklies with Lot #60, A Set of Sapphire, Diamond, and Gold Jewelry, by Mouawad, estimated at $120,000 – $150,000 USD:

The sapphires in this collection were absolutely gorgeous. Their color was reminiscent of a tanzanite, but with a bit of a light “cornflower” blue hue to them. Both are amazing pieces that I am sure went together splendidly with Elizabeth Taylor’s famous blue eyes.

Lot #56, The Taj Mahal, an Indian Diamond and Jade Pendant Necklace with a Ruby and Gold Chain, by Cartier, estimated at $300,000 – $500,000 USD:

This necklace was a gift to Elizabeth Taylor on her 40th birthday from Richard Burton. It is set with an inscribed heart-shaped table-cut diamond bearing the Islamic date 1037. Admittedly I am not an expert on the history of this famous necklace. It wasn’t beautiful in quite the same way as the more traditional fine jewelry in the collection, but it was impressive nonetheless, simply because it was so unique.

Lot #26, Emerald and Diamond Ring by Bulgari, estimated at $600,000 – $800,000 USD:

One of the only ways I can describe this ring is that it was so free of inclusions, it practically looked manmade. It was so incredibly large (I wish they listed the carat weight) and impressive. A truly amazing ring.

Lot #20, The Burton Cognac Ring, by Van Cleef & Arpels, estimated at $180,000 – $200,000 USD:

This pear-shaped diamond, a whopping 32.14 carats in a fancy deep brownish orangy yellow, is quite a sight. The color changes in the light as you view it from the front and the side. As the name of it indicates, this is another gift to Elizabeth Taylor from Richard Burton. That man sure knew how to buy a girl some jewelry!

And saving the best for last, there was Lot #80, The Elizabeth Taylor Diamond Ring, estimated at $2,500,000 – $3,000,000 USD:

This ring was a gift from Richard Burton, and was purchased from Parke-Bernet Galleries in New York on May 16th, 1968. It weighs approximately 33.19 carats, is mounted in platinum, and the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has determined it may be potentially internally flawless. The center diamond is out of this world. Looking at it in the glass case, it was hard to focus on it, simply because my eyes kept looking for flaws they weren’t going to find. It is the kind of diamond where I am thankful to have seen it in person once in my life. I wonder which bidder will win at the end of this auction, and what they will decide to do with it. Donate it to a museum, for all to see? Or lock it away, to be swooned over in the privacy of their home? One can only hope this won’t be the last we see of it. I can’t wait to find out where the final bid will fall on this one!

All of the jewelry listed above will be up for auction today and tomorrow. I will be following the results and will let you know in a separate blog post how much the items sell for in the end. Exciting!

Did you get a chance to check out the auction? Feel the same about the gallery show as I did? Any pieces I missed that you were in love with?

Elizabeth Taylor image found here, Heartshape rubies image found here, Amethyst geode image found here, Pear-shaped diamond ring image found here, Vincent Van Gogh painting image found here, Sapphire necklace and earrings image found here, Taj Mahal necklace image found here, Emerald ring image found here, Burton Cognac ring image found here, Elizabeth Taylor diamond ring image found here.

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