Out of This World! Jewelry in the Space Age Exhibit

In June I had the pleasure of visiting the Out of This World! Jewelry in the Space Age exhibit twice, currently on display at The Forbes Galleries in NYC. The first event was part of a talk with conceptual gem artist John Hatleberg, who has several pieces on display. The event was organized by the Association for the Study of Jewelry and Related Arts (ASJRA) and its co-director, Elyse Zorn Karlin, who guest curated the exhibit. At the second event Elyse gave a private tour of the exhibit to a small group. Both times I was struck by how much detail and information could be packed into the small exhibit. The jewelry gallery at Forbes is just one room but this exhibit, which includes over 100 pieces, contains so many amazing pieces of jewelry. With just a few days left until the exhibit closes, it is a must-see for all you jewelry and space geeks!

SpaceJewelrycover

“The purpose of this exhibition is to document how the history of space exploration has been reflected in our popular culture through both fine and non-precious jewelry and to showcase the beautiful and whimsical jewels that are being crafted today as jewelers continue to ponder the mysteries of the universe.” — Elyse Zorn Karlin, Guest Curator

Although the exhibit is centered around jewelry inspired by and related to space, there is also great non-jewelry memorabilia to go with the gems — a space ship sewing set from the 1930’s, a space cadet thermos, and a space-themed toy piano from the 1950’s all contribute to the far-out feeling of the exhibit:

Photo courtesy of Forbes Galleries

Photo courtesy of Forbes Galleries

The centerpiece of the room, which is the first item you see as you walk into the main area of the exhibit, is the Tampa Necklace by Van Cleef & Arpels. This one-of-a-kind piece, from a private collection, contains a multitude of diamonds and gemstones — round, baguette, and rose cut diamonds; pink, purple, blue, and yellow sapphires; onyx; orange garnets; red spinels; and beryl. It was created in 2010 and was inspired by the science fiction novel From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne:

Photo courtesy of Forbes Galleries

Photo courtesy of Forbes Galleries

The movement in this piece is incredible, the way the diamond trail of the rocket has swirled around the neck several times, and the burst of orange air beneath it. An ingenious part of this design is the large yellow sapphire at the bottom of the piece, which has an orange garnet set underneath it that shows through because of how thin the yellow sapphire is. It adds to the dream-like fantasy of the piece. Along with that, this necklace can be worn nine different ways, since it is made up of detachable and interchangeable pieces. Such a fantastic piece, especially for this exhibit!

The exhibition contains a wide range of jewelry, with items from the dawn of the space age (the late 1950’s to 1960’s) along with contemporary pieces, like the Venus Earrings by Steven Kretchmer Design:

Photo courtesy of Forbes Galleries

Photo courtesy of Forbes Galleries

Looking at these earrings you might think, “Cool earrings, I get it, they look like diamonds in orbit”. But they are so much more than that! There earrings are made up of 18 kt gold, diamonds, and polarium, a permanently magnetized platinum alloy created by Stephen Kretchmer. One of the amazing behaviors of polarium is levitation, which is exhibited in these earrings. The diamond discs are not attached to any part of that center rod — they keep their amazing spacing simply because of the poles repelling. How amazing is that!

There is a fascinating section in the exhibition dedicated to jewelry that has flown in space. Astronauts are allowed to take up to twenty personal items on a space mission, with a limit of 3.3 lbs total. Jewelry is often taken as part of this package because of its small size and sentimental nature. Of course having a piece of jewelry that has gone up into space greatly increases its value as well, and many pieces can fetch between $50,000 – $100,000 at auction, depending on which astronaut it belonged to. One of my favorite pieces is a Towson watch worn in space by commander Gerhard P.J. Thijiele, on loan from the National Watch and Clock Museum, which was worn on US Space Shuttle Mission SS-99 from February 11th-22nd, 2000. The date on the watch is permanently set to the 22nd, the last day of the mission. Looking at the worn leather band and the stopped clock you can almost imagine it has soaked up special space powers!

If you thought the idea of having items on display that have been in space was cool, another section of the exhibit features jewelry created using materials that come from space. This includes meteorites, tektite, moldavite, pallasite, and moissanite. A fun example of this is the Kitchen Sink ring by John Hatleberg:

Photo courtesy of Forbes Galleries

Photo courtesy of Forbes Galleries

This ring is true to its name with a plethora of gemstones set in it — pallasite, white diamond, red emerald, South Sea pearl, zircon, tourmaline, spinel, sapphire, tsavorite, aquamarine, and irradiated diamond. I imagine it is strong fluorescence in these diamonds that gives them a milky glow, which matches so perfectly with the other gemstones in the ring. The green overtone of the South Sea pearl gives the feeling of an alien lifeform’s skin. Couldn’t you imagine this is what the surface of some fantastic alien planet looks like?

I could go on and on about the amazing jewelry at this exhibit, but I would rather leave the surprises for you to see for yourself. The last day of this exhibition is September 7th, 2013, and it is free to the public. If you are here in NYC, treat yourself to a lunch break at this stellar gallery. It is truly out of this world!

P.S. Although I mention The Forbes Galleries a million times in this post, I was not paid or perked to write about this exhibition. I am simply a lover of gorgeous space-tastic jewelry!

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Field Trip: Fashion Jewelry – The Collection of Barbara Berger at MAD

After a rainy lunchtime meeting with a client in the Diamond District last week the clouds parted, the sun broke through, and I decided it was high time I took a walk to check out the Fashion Jewelry: The Collection of Barbara Berger exhibit at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD).

Fashion Jewelry Insta

Featuring over 450 jewelry pieces from Barbara Berger’s astounding 4,000+ piece personal collection, this exhibition curated by Harrice Simons Miller is the result of over 50 years of collecting. The daughter of a diamond merchant, Barbara purchased her first pair of Chanel earrings at a flea market as a teenager and never looked back. “I buy what I like and it’s usually love at first sight,” Barbara says in her book that showcases over 200 of the pieces from the exhibit.

Coco Chanel book quote Insta

Walking through the exhibit is like being inside of Barbara’s jewelry box. Adding to this feeling, MAD showcases the pieces not only in standing glass displays, but also in rows and rows of pull out drawers. Each time you open another drawer the surprise of what you might find is elating. It is a very intimate experience to see the jewelry pieces that have special meaning to Barbara. Along with the item descriptions there is also a handy audio tour that you can listen to on your mobile device while strolling the exhibit.

Gong necklace Insta

This 24 karat gold and brass piece from 1987 is dubbed the “gold cymbals necklace” in my mind, but is actually titled Gong (not that far off) by Robert Lee Morris. It was a gift from the artist to Barbara in 1995, and I just love the layered movement of the brass circles in the necklace. I could imagine this with a fantastic strapless tribal or floral print dress and sandals. Or a crisp white dress shirt and fitted black skirt. The possibilities are endless!

Butcher paper pink Insta

I am IN LOVE with this necklace by Swiss artist Verena Sieber-Fuchs. This untitled piece from 1988 may seem to be created from delicate feathers plucked from a magical pink bird, but it is in fact created from butcher paper and silver wire. How amazing is that? Each thin slice of paper gives a light, fluffy, and utterly feminine feeling. Couldn’t you imagine a ballerina wearing this to mimic the plume of her tutu? So ethereal!

Etro necklace Insta

This necklace made by Etro (an Italian company) in 1990 is created from velvet and metal, and for me it evokes the crisp and cool beginning of autumn. Maybe it’s the velvet, or the jewel-toned hues (especially the deep burgundy) that remind me of falling leaves and the start of sweaters and jeans. I also appreciate that this necklace is not perfectly symmetrical in its design. Just a fun and playful piece!

Chanel feather neck Insta

If the pink butcher paper “feather” necklace was my favorite piece of the exhibit, this metal feather necklace by Chanel might be my second favorite. I adore the asymmetrical design of the feathers on this, which I can just imagine laying exquisitely over the right shoulder of the wearer. It is simple but completely fabulous.

I could go on and on with photos of the jewelry at this exhibit, there were just so many interesting pieces. I really appreciate how wide-ranging Barbara’s taste is. She can have light and feminine pieces like some of those above, and then you turn the corner and you see this necklace by Daniel Von Weinberger:

Imprisoned in Fluo Insta

Titled “Imprisoned in Fluo”, this necklace is a conglomeration of plastic toys, from glow-in-the-dark frogs to a masked superhero caught in the footbed of a rubbery pink shoe. Even if it’s not your taste to wear for a night out on the town, it’s fun to look through it and see all the little pieces tangled within.

After delighting over all the interesting jewelry I made my way up to the sixth floor, which has both a learning center and a workroom for the current artist-in-residence. The learning center is a bit like walking into summer camp — several tables topped with all kinds of creative supplies. My favorite area was the jewelry making table, of course. Super inviting cups and bins full of beads, sequins, and unusual cast offs were available to string and wire wrap. After seeing all the fantastic costume jewelry from the exhibit my creativity was peaked and I was ready to dig in. I made this fun necklace, and it took everything in my power not to just stay there all day and create more:

Molly necklace Insta

After prying myself from the crafts table (seriously, make sure to hang out up there if you go to see the exhibit) I went to the room next door to see what the artist-in-residence was doing. That day it was David Mandel, a jewelry designer who has several pieces in the Fashion Jewelry exhibit. Having created jewelry for theater and live events for over twenty years, you may have seen his larger-than-life pieces in the 2012 Victoria’s Secret runway show:

Photo courtesy of MAD

Photo courtesy of MAD

David was wonderful to speak with, and I was especially fond of the piece he is currently working on in the artist’s room, a jewelry shirt called Urban Grind:

Jewelry Shirt Insta

 And here is the back (in somewhat different lighting):

Jewelry Shirt Back Insta

The vertical jewelry strips in this shirt are detachable, and with hooks along the neckline that means that this shirt is completely customizable. Mix and match sections of the shirt to create a different look each day. Isn’t that so innovative and fun? Also, note the plastic googly eyes within the design. When wearing a jewelry shirt it’s important not to take yourself too seriously!

As I said, there are a million more pieces from the exhibit that I would love to show you, but that would ruin the fun of seeing it yourself! The exhibition will run at MAD until January 20th, 2014, but some portions will close on September 22nd, so if you are in NYC make sure to check it out before then.

Have you already checked out the exhibit? What was one of your favorite pieces? Did you try and pick up one of the Barbara Berger books on display only to find it was glued to the table to prevent stealing? Yeah, I didn’t either 😉

P.S. Although I mention the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) 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 jewelry!

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The Geneva and Hong Kong Results! Magnificent Jewels at Christie’s – May 2013

Yes, you read that right, I am finally getting a chance to post about the items up for sale at the Christie’s Magnificent Jewels auction in Geneva as well as the Magnificent Jewels auction in Hong Kong that both occurred back in May. You may remember my post about the jewelry I saw that sold in their US auction back in April. Consider this a summer bonus post! There aren’t any auctions to cover again until September, so this is a fun way to enjoy these amazing pieces a little longer. Let’s dive in!

Lot #1736, “A Sapphire and Diamond Necklace/Brooch, by Cartier”, estimated at $543,664 – $776,634 USD (Hong Kong auction):

Image courtesy of Christie's

Image courtesy of Christie’s

The loop detail on this necklace is such a great touch, since it is wrapped around the innermost “strand” of the necklace. This gives it an amazing three dimensional quality, as opposed to a necklace that just sits flat against your neck. You can see a bit more of the detail here:

Image courtesy of Christie's

Image courtesy of Christie’s

One of the other magnificent aspects of this necklace is the fact that the center area with the sapphire is actually a detachable brooch:

Image courtesy of Christie's

Image courtesy of Christie’s

This 17.95 carat sapphire, of Sri Lankan origin, has also never been heat treated. That gorgeous blue color is completely natural.  Such a beautiful piece!

PRICE REALIZED: $625,176 USD

 

Lot #1611, “An Exceptional Padparadscha and Diamond Ring”, estimated at $1,035,223 – $1,552,835 USD (Hong Kong auction):

Image courtesy of Christie's

Image courtesy of Christie’s

The 73.98 carat padparadscha in this ring was enormous! I couldn’t take any millimeter measurements of it, but it was definitely larger than a quarter. Padparadscha, which gets its name from the lotus flowers of Sri Lanka, is a member of the corundum family, which includes sapphires and rubies. The peachy-brown color of this particular piece was just stunning in person. It was perfectly paired with the rose gold setting, which only enhanced the pink color.

PRICE REALIZED: LOT NOT SOLD

 

Lot #288, (official description not available), estimated at $6,500,000 – $8,500,000 USD (Geneva auction):

Lot #288 Christie's GenevaThis huge 76.91 carat diamond was amazing to breathe on! With an F color and VVS1 clarity, it was great to get to see it unmounted, rather than set in a piece of jewelry as many of the others were at the auction. The culet on this diamond, which is the either pointed or flat facet at the bottom of the stone, parallel to the table (top facet), was flat and quite large. If you look closely at the photo above, in the center of the diamond you can see a large darker circle. When viewed from the top it was very apparent, but it worked well with the rest of the way that the diamond was faceted. So much fun to get to see it out of the case!

PRICE REALIZED: LOT NOT SOLD

 

Lot #283, “A Spectacular and Highly Important Diamond”, estimate “in the region of $20 million” (Geneva auction):

Image courtesy of Christie's

Image courtesy of Christie’s

This 101.73 carat pear-shaped diamond, named “Absolute Perfection”, is the largest D color Flawless clarity diamond to be offered for sale. It was discovered in De Beer’s Jwaneng mine in a 236 carat piece of rough that took a whopping 27 months to polish! At the NYC viewing that I attended this diamond had its own black tent set up in the room, complete with a velvet rope and a guard. No photos were allowed and I couldn’t get very close, but the diamond shone bright in the special lighting and black background. It would have still been Flawless even if I could have gotten close enough to inspect it!

PRICE REALIZED: $26,737,913 USD (world auction record for a colorless diamond)

Harry Winston is the new owner of this diamond, and has since renamed it “Winston Legacy”. Another fun fact is that the Geneva sale totaled $102.1 million USD, the highest result ever for a various-owner jewelry auction at Christie’s.

 

Wasn’t that a nice distraction from all the record-breaking temperatures here in NYC this week? Which lot did you like the best? I loved the loops of the sapphire and diamond necklace, along with the fact that it could be converted to just a brooch. At that price it’s nice to have two pieces of jewelry in one! I was also a bit surprised that the padparadscha ring and the 76.91 carat unmounted diamond didn’t sell. They were both such beautiful pieces. Perhaps we will see them again at a future auction!

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!

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Pratt Institute’s 2013 Senior Show

Three weeks ago I attended Pratt’s Junior Jewelry Exhibition on its Brooklyn campus, which featured the amazing work of twelve talented juniors. Monday night I had the pleasure of attending the annual Pratt Senior Show, a huge exhibition of work by hundreds of seniors with various majors, in the Hammerstein at the Manhattan Center in NYC.

Image courtesy of Pratt Institute

Image courtesy of Pratt Institute

The night I attended the exhibition included a champagne reception for industry professionals, and all the students had resumes and business cards at the ready next to their work. It was a bit like a reverse job fair, with professionals seeking out students to talk about potential jobs. Since it was a special reception, we also received some very cool swag:

Action Journal Pratt

Can you think of any better promotional gift at an art college exhibition than a sketchbook? As a bonus, this Action Journal (made by Behance in collaboration with New Leaf Paper) has a section on the right side of each page for listing the action steps needed to make your ideas come to life. Very excited to try it out!

After powering through the intense crowd huddled around the crackers, cheese, and vegetable platters (college students are like my cat; they act as if they’ve never eaten before!) I made my way through the works from various departments on display. I wish I could tell you about all the amazing work I saw — one of my favorite project themes was a rebranding and reimagining of current mainstream brands — but this is a blog post about the jewelry department. I will tell you that this cut out of Tom Selleck, part of Michael J. Silber’s thesis “Digital Humor Theory”, made me very happy:

Tom Selleck Pratt

Now for the really fun stuff, the jewelry! Eleven seniors showcased their thesis jewelry collections, and each had a very clear vision. Let’s start with Sara Cochran, who is greatly inspired by insects, and her beautiful Tarsus bangles in silver:

Image courtesy of Sara Cochran

Image courtesy of Sara Cochran. Photo credit: Andreana Bitsis

I really loved these bracelets from the moment I saw them. They are immediately recognizable as bug legs. But because they are created in silver with a patina that gives them a gold sheen, it elevates the look and makes it sleek and wearable. You could wear these with an edgy jacket or a summery dress. So versatile!

The next piece is by Simonne Feeney from her collection “Atomica”. This necklace is a take on the traditional 1950’s pearl necklace:

Image courtesy of Simonne Feeney. Photo credit: Andreana Bitsis

Image courtesy of Simonne Feeney. Photo credit: Andreana Bitsis

The necklace is hand crafted using brass wire that is then powder coated. It gives it a white wicker effect and felt very much like a piece you would wear in the springtime. Simonne created the necklace to show an Atomic Era take on the jewelry status symbol of that time. I am guessing she did not necessarily set out to design it as the fun and playful necklace I see, but I can’t help it! I bet it looks especially great on the neck, since the open spaces in the rounds would show your skin underneath. Very pretty and cool!

Kelly DeKenipp, whose collection was titled “Adornment and Torment”, created this “Splitter Bracelet”, a spikey-cool silver bracelet with gold leaf:

Spikey bracelet PrattThe gold leaf is in the inner edges of the spikes and gives them great dimension. Plus Kelly filed down the tips of the triangles, so when you wear the bracelet it doesn’t scratch at all. I love how this bracelet can be interpreted in so many ways. It could be a monster’s mouth with the top and bottom teeth bared… or perhaps it is more structural, like a bridge turned inside on itself? No matter what you see in it, it’s sure to get compliments!

Next up was Lia Branning-Chen and her collection “Scales on Scales”. I fell in love with this trio of copper and powder-coated bracelets:

Image courtesy of Lia Branning-Chen

Image courtesy of Lia Branning-Chen

These bracelets are inspired by scales and the Chinese dragon, but I actually fell in love with them because they reminded me of beautiful lace doilies, especially the center one. Can you see it? The powder coating gives them this really nice soft and smooth finish. So delicate and feminine!

To finish off this jewelry love-fest is the “Porous Gold | Precious Ruins” collection by Jenna Pierson, and her fantastic necklace:

Golden Bottle Necklace

Image courtesy of Jenna Pierson

I purposely didn’t tell you the official name of this piece, or what it is composed of. Can you guess what those crinkly rosettes are made from? Bottle caps! This Golden Bottle Necklace is handmade from bottle caps, 23 karat gold, and silver. Isn’t that so cool! It is so beautiful in person and such a great use of an otherwise discarded material. Who knew bottle caps could be so chic?

One of my favorite things about the work that I have seen from Pratt’s jewelry design students over the past few weeks is that it truly reflects the students’ creativity and tenacity. Patricia Madeja, a Professor and the Fine Arts Jewelry Coordinator at Pratt Institute (who is an incredible studio jeweler as well) encourages these qualities in the students, which I really appreciate. There is plenty of time for these students to create commercial jewelry in their future jobs. For now they get to have artistic freedom. What’s better than that?

Which is your favorite of the bunch? I’m not sure I can really pick a favorite — I made sure to show you all the ones I adored! If you want to see these in person, the Pratt Senior Show runs through Thursday May 8th here in NYC and is open to the public. Go check out these and all the other fabulous pieces I didn’t have room to cover here!

P.S. Although I mention Pratt 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 jewelry created by awesome designers!

 

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Guys, Don’t (Dis)miss Valentine’s Day!

Here’s the scenario, fellas: It’s February, and Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. You’re tired of the commercial push for flowers, jewelry, and a fancy dinner for your loved one. You scoff at what the holiday has become and refuse to participate. When you tell your lady you just want to treat Valentine’s Day like any other day (since you already know you love each other) she agrees that you don’t have to do anything. You made a simple statement, you got a straight answer, case closed.

Nope. You still need to do something for her for Valentine’s Day.

Confusing, right? You thought she said it was cool, that you don’t need to get her anything or do anything special. Sorry, that was just her being nice and agreeable. Most likely she is hoping that your grouchiness is just a charade, so that when you do something special on Valentine’s Day for her it will be a surprise by contrast. This holiday might not have a special meaning to you, but I guarantee that it holds some meaning for her. For little girls, Valentine’s Day is  all about the excitement of giving and receiving Valentine’s cards. As teenagers, the focus is on crushes and whether boys will profess their adoration on this special day. As grown-ups, working in an office where other women are receiving bouquets of flowers at their desks, women wonder if their guy will make the effort too.

Naysayers of Valentine’s Day, you are completely right that the holiday has gotten out of hand, but only if you believe what all the advertising it telling you – BUY this, GIVE that, SPEND this or she won’t know you love her. It doesn’t have to be like that. It can be about showing your love and making her feel special. You might even disagree with the fact that you feel forced to do these special things on a very specific day of the year. Who cares? If you’re being sweet the other 364 days of the year, what’s one more day?

Doing something special doesn’t mean spending big bucks. All it involves is being thoughtful and caring in making this day different from every other. Is there a movie she always wants to rent, but you pass on it because it’s what you consider a chick flick? Is there a jewelry store in your neighborhood where she always stops to gaze in the window? Maybe there’s a recipe she emailed you in the past, with a note about how delicious it looks? Perhaps you work long hours, and you know all she really wants is to cuddle up on the couch with you for a few hours without the beeping of cell phones and email?

Skeptics of Valentine’s Day might also feel it’s unfair that society has put so much of the responsibility of present giving or romantic planning on the guy. Guys shouldn’t fall into the trap of that mindset. Making someone else feel special is completely worth it. It grows the bond between you and your loved one, and you will reap the benefits in the immediate as well as in the future.

Now, if you haven’t already, go think up something sweet that will make her smile!

Guys, do you always make sure to do something for her on Valentine’s Day? Have you ever skipped out on the holiday? Ladies, do you agree that it’s important to celebrate the day? What was the best thing a guy ever did for you on Valentine’s Day?

Card image found here.

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Strike the Gavel, the Bidding is Over!

Yesterday I let you know all about the Magnificent Jewels I viewed (and tried on!) at Sotheby’s on Tuesday. Today those stunning pieces were auctioned off, and now it’s time to find out what the final bids were! (Sales totals are hammer price plus buyer’s premium).

Lot #346, “Fine Platinum, Gold, Ruby and Diamond Ring”, estimated at $500,000 – $700,000 USD:

PRICE REALIZED: NO BIDS – NOT SOLD

Lot #356, “Platinum, Natural Pearl and Diamond Ring, JAR, Paris”, estimated at $50,000 – $75,000 USD:

PRICE REALIZED: $152,500 USD

Lot #359, “Platinum and Briolette Diamond Ring, JAR, Paris”, estimated at $250,000 – $350,000 USD:

PRICE REALIZED: $566,500 USD

Lot #87, “Pair of 18 Karat White Gold and Diamond Earclips, with Interchangeable Pendants”, estimated at $15,000 – $20,000:

PRICE REALIZED: $25,000 USD

Lot #175, “18 Karat White Gold, Diamond and Emerald Snake Bangle-Bracelet, Boucheron”, estimated at $20,000 – $30,000:

PRICE REALIZED: $68,500 USD

Lot #316, “Fancy Pink-Brown Diamond Ring”, estimated at $1,300,000 – $1,600,000:

PRICE REALIZED: $1,426,500 USD

Lot #441, “Magnificent Diamond and Platinum Ring, Graff”, from the collection of Evelyn H. Lauder, sold to benefit The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, estimated at $3,000,000 – $4,000,000:

PRICE REALIZED: $3,442,500 USD, sold to Laurence Graff

Lot #420, “Magnificent Platinum, 18 Karat Gold, Fancy Intense Yellow Diamond and Diamond Pendant-Necklace, Van Cleef & Arpels, New York, 1978”, from the collection of Evelyn H. Lauder, sold to benefit The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, estimated at $1,500,000 – $2,000,000:

PRICE REALIZED: $2,546,500 USD

Lot #442, “Magnificent Platinum, Fancy Intense Pink Diamond and Diamond Ring, Oscar Heyman & Bros”, from the collection of Evelyn H. Lauder, sold to benefit The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, estimated at $4,000,000 – $5,000,000:

PRICE REALIZED: $8,594,500 USD (highest sale price of the entire auction), sold to Laurence Graff

What do you think of the results? Anything you’re surprised by? I literally guffawed when I saw the final bid price for the Fancy Intense Pink Diamond from Evelyn Lauder’s collection.  That is so much more than the estimated price! I’m not surprised that the Fancy Intense Yellow Heart-Shaped Diamond sold for $2,546,500, given that it would be appealing to collectors of the Duchess of Windsor’s pieces, Evelyn Lauder’s pieces, and colored diamonds, let alone the fact that all the proceeds from that sale are going to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. But I am puzzled that the oval ruby ring with the four pear-shaped diamonds didn’t sell at all. It was beautiful in person, and had such a high estimated bid value.

Sad that you missed seeing this jewelry in person? Don’t fret, if you are in NYC you will have a chance to check out more pieces at the Important Jewels exhibition at Sotheby’s in Feb 2013, or another new Magnificent Jewels exhibition at Sotheby’s in April 2013. Mark those calendars!

Lot #346 image found here, Lot #356 image found here, Lot #359 image found here, Lot #87 image found here, Lot #316 image found here, Lot #441 image found here, Lot #420 image found here, Lot #442 image found here.

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More Magnificent Jewels!

Back in April I attended the Magnificent Jewels Exhibition at Sotheby’s here in New York City. You can read all about what beautiful jewelry I viewed there, or just skip straight to the final bid prices. Yesterday I went back for their second new viewing this year of Magnificent Jewels. As always it was open to the public and free to attend. Plus, you’re allowed to touch and try on all the luxurious pieces whether you are a serious buyer or just a fan of beautiful gemstones. One of the highlights of this particular exhibition was the collection from Mrs. Charles Wrightsman. Known for her philanthropy and dedication to providing The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York with exceptional collections, the auction here contained 63 lots with pieces ranging from mid-19th century to contemporary. The displays at the exhibition were lovely, with flowers and photos of Mrs. Charles Wrightsman:

Let’s start with some of the most striking pieces from her collection.

Lot #346, “Fine Platinum, Gold, Ruby and Diamond Ring”, estimated at $500,000 – $700,000 USD:

The center ruby in this ring weighs in at a large 9.40 carats, with four modified pear-shaped diamonds (two on each side) weighing approximately 2.0 carats. The first thing I noticed when holding this ring was that the center diamond is such a lovely color. It has a bit of a pinkish hue to it, which makes it brighter than a regular red. You could see some inclusions in the ruby, but as I have found with these spectacular large gemstones, it doesn’t matter a bit visually. The overall effect is what is powerful. Also, the diamonds on the sides are set with the heads (the rounded portion at the bottom) against the belly of the oval, with the points aimed towards the band of the ring. Usually you see modern rings with just one pear-shaped diamond on each side set this way — doubling up gives a lovely symmetry with the large ruby in the center.

Lot #356, “Platinum, Natural Pearl and Diamond Ring, JAR, Paris”, estimated at $50,000 – $75,000 USD:

My love for this ring started immediately with the braided shank set with diamonds all the way around. The design and fine detail were beautiful against the simplicity of the 13.9 millimeter pearl. When on the hand, you realize how tall that pearl really is, at 11.2 millimeters. Keep in mind Mrs. Wrightsman’s ring size is an incredibly small 3.75 (to give perspective, the average woman’s ring size is a 6-7), so it only fit on my pinkie:

Lot #359, “Platinum and Briolette Diamond Ring, JAR, Paris”, estimated at $250,000 – $350,000 USD:

This ring, with a briolette diamond weighing 10.28 carats hanging from the band, was so unusual and fascinating. It’s not often you see rings with, for lack of a better word, a “charm” hanging from the band. Plus, the 20 rose-cut diamonds along the center of the band poke out like a studded belt. Instead of the flat facet at the top of the diamond, it is the pointed pavilion and culet that stick out. Almost rock and roll! The odd thing was, when it’s on your hand, the hanging briolette definitely gets in the way a bit. Until you shake your pinkie and it sparkles in the light. Then that snazzy briolette makes sense when you’re trying to catch someone’s eye!

By the way, did you notice the iPad in the background in this photo? Sotheby’s has a wonderful iPad app to go along with this and many other auctions. You can watch videos, check out photos, and get more info about Mrs. Charles Wrightman, all with the ability to take notes or send emails about particular items. If you didn’t get a chance to go to the auction, it is a perfect way to feel like you were there.

Let’s move on to some of the other lots at the exhibition. Mrs. Wrightsman’s collection was in its own room, and the rest of the jewelry could be found in a larger adjacent room.

Lot #87, “Pair of 18 Karat White Gold and Diamond Earclips, with Interchangeable Pendants”, estimated at $15,000 – $20,000:

Upon first glance in the case, I almost didn’t realize what the purpose of these earrings were. To have interchangeable pendants at the bottom of the earring (in this case, pink, turquoise, and amber hued portions) was so cool. With the yellow diamonds it’s red carpet ready. With the turquoise hue, it’s laid back (well, perhaps for someone accustomed to wearing 19.70 carats of diamonds on their ears).

Lot #175, “18 Karat White Gold, Diamond and Emerald Snake Bangle-Bracelet, Boucheron”, estimated at $20,000 – $30,000:

This bracelet was fantastic. There is so much movement in the piece, with the two snakes wrapping and looping around each other. I can imagine someone wearing a simple little black dress with this snake bracelet — you wouldn’t need anything else!

Lot #316, “Fancy Pink-Brown Diamond Ring”, estimated at $1,300,000 – $1,600,000:

This Fancy Pink-Brown diamond weighs a whopping 26.96 carats, and is set in rose gold with diamonds. First off, the color of the diamond in person was gorgeous. It was a mixture of champagne, peach, and gold all in one. The way it reflected light was beautiful, and the rose gold complemented it perfectly. For a top-heavy ring on such a thin band you would think it would be sagging down towards the wrist. But the craftsmanship in the setting featured a lovely swirl of metal, almost like a spiral staircase, to give it stability:

So often pear-shaped stones are set in a ring with the point towards the tip of the finger. It was fun to see this ring, with its swirls and details, set horizontally with the point towards to pinkie. A truly delicate and completely stunning ring!

Along with the collection from Mrs. Charles Wrightman, there were pieces up for auction from the collections of Evelyn H. Lauder and Estée Lauder. Evelyn Lauder founded the The Breast Cancer Research Foundation in 1993, and proceeds from this auction will be going to that foundation.

Lot #441, “Magnificent Diamond and Platinum Ring, Graff”, from the collection of Evelyn H. Lauder, sold to benefit The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, estimated at $3,000,000 – $4,000,000:

The emerald-cut diamond in this ring weighs 22.16 carats, and it is flanked by baguettes on each side. The center stone is a D Color (which is colorless, and the best grade a diamond can receive in color), and has potentially Flawless clarity. It was absolutely incredible to try on this ring.

The baguettes on the sides made a huge difference visually. They balanced out the fact that this emerald-cut diamond is so long. Notice how much of my finger is taken up by that one diamond? It was fun peering into it to look for inclusions and not finding any!

Lot #420, “Magnificent Platinum, 18 Karat Gold, Fancy Intense Yellow Diamond and Diamond Pendant-Necklace, Van Cleef & Arpels, New York, 1978”, from the collection of Evelyn H. Lauder, sold to benefit The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, estimated at $1,500,000 – $2,000,000:

This necklace has a rich history. In 1987 Sotheby’s had an auction of the Duchess of Windsor’s jewels in Geneva, but one of the items missing from that auction was a heart-shaped yellow diamond ring, which was purchased by the Duke and Duchess from Harry Winston in 1951. Evelyn Lauder had in fact purchased the ring from her friend the Duchess in the early 1970’s, and took it lto Van Cleef & Arpels to have the ring converted to a pendant. The heart-shaped diamond is 47.14 carats, and in person has a wonderful bright yellow color. The necklace is very flexible, and is set with approximately 95.00 carats of round diamonds. Holding it in my hand, it felt and looked like something a princess would own:

And now, for the last and possibly the most impressive pieces in the auction. Lot #442, “Magnificent Platinum, Fancy Intense Pink Diamond and Diamond Ring, Oscar Heyman & Bros”, from the collection of Evelyn H. Lauder, sold to benefit The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, estimated at $4,000,000 – $5,000,000:

Evelyn Lauder’s husband, Leonard, bought this ring for her, and looking at the pink color of the center diamond you can’t help but be reminded of her quest for breast cancer awareness. The oval-shaped Fancy Intense pink diamond is 6.54 carats, and is Internally Flawless. In person the color of the pink is sweet and delicate. I can’t wait to see how much the final bid price is for this one!

All of the jewelry listed above will be up for auction from 10am to 8pm today. You can watch it all happen live on the Sotheby’s website. 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. It was such a pleasure just to get to see them and try them on!

Did any of you get to visit the Sotheby’s exhibition in person? Are there any pieces here, or ones I didn’t mention, that you fell in love with? My personal favorite was the Fancy Pink-Brown Diamond Ring. So chic!

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 #346 image found here, Lot #356 image found here, Lot #359 image found here, Lot #87 image found here, Lot #316 image found here, Lot #441 image found here, Lot #420 image found here, Lot #442 image found here.

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And the Highest Bidder Is…

Yesterday I told you all about the magnificent jewels that I viewed (and tried on!) at the Sotheby’s exhibition. Today these stunning jewels were auctioned off to the highest bidders. What were the final bids? Let’s find out! (Sales totals are hammer price plus buyer’s premium).

Lot #144, “Platinum and Diamond Bracelet, France, Circa 1930” from the Estate of an East Coast Lady, estimated at $80,000 – $120,000 USD:

PRICE REALIZED: $116,500 USD

Lot #142, “Platinum, Emerald, and Diamond Ring”, estimated at $75,000 – $125,000 USD:

PRICE REALIZED: $92,500 USD

Lot #122, “Pair of Platinum, Tourmaline, and Diamond Pendant-Earrings, Tiffany & Co.”, estimated at $6,000 – $8,000 USD:

PRICE REALIZED: $36,250 USD

Lot #73, “18 Karat White Gold, Keshi Pearl and Diamond Bracelet”, estimated at $20,000 – $25,000 USD:

PRICE REALIZED: $25,000 USD

Lot #333, “Pair of Diamond-Pendant Earrings, Circa 1910”, property from the estate of Eunice Joyce Gardiner, estimated at $30,000 – $40,000 USD:

PRICE REALIZED: $206,500 USD

Lot #428, “A Very Rare Platinum, Carved Emerald, Emerald and Sapphire Brooch, Cartier, New York, Circa 1920”, estimated at $300,000 – $500,000 USD:

PRICE REALIZED: $482,500 USD

Lot #418, “Platinum and Diamond Ring”, property from the estate of Nancy B. Hamon, estimated at $500,000 to $700,000 USD:

PRICE REALIZED: $1,082,500 USD

Lot #103, “18 Karat Gold and Diamond Ring”, property of a Lady, estimated at $450,000 – $550,000 USD:

PRICE REALIZED: $842,500 USD

Lot #183, “Platinum and Diamond Ring”, property from a private collection, estimated at $30,000 – $50,000 USD:

PRICE REALIZED: $86,500 USD

Lot #382, “Platinum and Diamond Ring”, estimated at $75,000 – $100,000 USD:

PRICE REALIZED: $92,500 USD

Lot #421, “An Impressive Fancy Vivid Yellow Diamond Ring”, estimated at $1,500,000 – $2,000,000 USD:

PRICE REALIZED: $1,874,500 USD

Are you surprised by any of the final bids? Many of them sold within their estimated price range, while others tipped the scales quite a bit. Did you notice that Lot #333, the diamond pendant earrings I thought would look lovely with a wedding dress, sold for $206,500, a whopping $160,000+ more than the highest estimated amount? Some lucky bidder must have really wanted them!

Lot #144 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.

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Magnificent Jewels!

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!

A beautiful design in both pieces of jewelry!

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.

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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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