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The28-carat diamond that sold for $2.12 million of on the final day of Christie’s Jewels Online auction, making it the most expensive jewel ever auctioned via the Internet. (Photo courtesy of Christie’s)

AGAINST THE BACKDROP OF THE GLOBAL PANDEMIC, JUNE AUTIONS PRODUCE MIXED RESULTS

 

The June fine jewelry auction season, which took place against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, has produced some mixed results, but one definite highlight was the sale worth $2.12 million of a 28-carat diamond on the final day of Christie’s Jewels Online auction. This made  it the most expensive jewel ever auctioned via the Internet, and it lent credence to the understanding that the auction is being inexorably changed.

A rare Type 11A, D-color stone, the diamond sold for above its upper estimate of $2 million.

“The spectacular 28.86-carat D-color diamond received immediate attention upon its announcement,” stated Christie’s Head of Jewellery Rahul Kadakia, in a statement. “The stone possesses a transparency and purity which can only be found in the world’s finest diamonds. The sale of this exceptional stone established the record for a jewel sold in an online-only auction, demonstrating greater client confidence in Christie’s digital ability and online sale platform.”

“We now look forward to the beginning of our live-auction season for jewelry spanning all major Christie’s global sale sites led by a $8 million fancy intense blue IF diamond of 12.11 carats offered in Hong Kong on July 9,” Kadakia added

A week earlier Sotheby’s had recorded the most expensive watch ever sold in an online auction, receiving $500,000 for a 1970 Rolex Daytona Paul Newman.

 “Traditionally we would think clients would need to try on jewelry in order to buy it, but we have found that with our online auctions that is not the case,” said Kendall Reed, Sotheby’s vice president, head of fine jewels, and global head of online jewels, speaking to WWD. “Our clients trust our expertise…and that helps them feel comfortable to buy jewelry sight unseen.”

NOT ALL GOODS MANAGED TO SELL

Other results were not as spectacular. Sotheby’s Part II Magnificent Jewels & Nobel Jewels  in Geneva, which was broadcast live via the Internet, did not go quite as planned, with the top lot, a 3.01-carat fancy vivid blue step-cut, diamond with VS1 clarity, being withdrawn from the sale. Its estimated pre-sale value was between was $4.3 million and $6.3 million.

Speaking to Forbes, Ioannis Alexandris of Gemolithos, a German firm handling antique, vintage and estate jewelry and gemstones, suggested that the results came about because of unrealistic expectations. “Many unsold items had estimates that were too high,” he stated.

A case in point involved seven items of jewelry from Cartier jewels that were all carrying estimated prices higher than what similar items sold for in 2019. Out of the seven, three were not sold at all, three sold within estimates and one sold above its estimate.

Among the diamonds that failed to sell were a 21.56-carat D color, VVS1 clarity diamond by Lorraine Schwartz, with a pre-sale estimate of $1.5 million to $2 million; a 16.43-carat fancy vivid yellow diamond with VS2 clarity, and excellent polish and symmetry, with a pre-sale estimate of $900,000  to $1.3 million; and a 4.09-carat fancy pink, internally flawless diamond with a pre-sale estimate of $878,446 to  $1 million.

A necklace set with cushion-shaped emeralds framed with circular-cut diamonds that had been the property of the Duchess of Manchester, which sold for $489,495 at Sotheby’s. (Photo courtesy of at Sotheby’s)

A 7-carat marquise-shaped fancy intense pink diamond VVS2 clarity, the top lot of the Sotheby’s sale, which was sold for more than $3 million. (Photo courtesy of at Sotheby’s)

STAYING WITHIN PRICE ESTIMATES

The top lot of the Sotheby’s sale was a 7-carat marquise-shaped fancy intense pink diamond VVS2 clarity, which was set on a ring flanked by fancy-shaped diamonds and with a shank lined with brilliant-cut diamonds. The item of jewelry was sold for more than $3 million, including the buyers’ premium, which was within estimates.

A pair of earrings featuring a 13.50-carat and 13.52-carat diamond both of D color, VVS2 clarity, and with excellent polish and symmetry was sold for more than $1.5 million, which also was within estimates.

Among the noble jewels in the Sotheby’s sale was a necklace set with cushion-shaped emeralds framed with circular-cut diamonds that was given as a wedding gift to the Consuelo Montagu (1853-1909), the Duchess of Manchester. It was sold for $489,495, above estimates.