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DIAMONDS AT AUCTION

The top lot at Sotheby’s New York Magnificent Jewels sale in New York, a Cartier ring highlighted by a 21.86-carat Colombian square-emerald-cut emerald, flanked by diamonds, from the collection of Cecile Zilkha. (Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s)

AUCTION HOUSE CLOSES OUT A SURPRISINGLY STRONG YEAR ON AN OPTIMISTIC NOTE

As they have for most of the pandemic-struck year, jewelry auctions continue to pull in impressive results in December. A case in point was Sotheby’s New York Magnificent Jewels sale in New York, which with $46.9 million of goods sold, was the the highest total for a Sotheby’s jewelry auction since 2017.

According to Sotheby’s, 91 percent of the lots at the New York sale sold, with 74 percent of them fetching prices above their high estimates.  Nine pieces of jewelry sold for more than $1 million.

The top lot at the sale was a Cartier ring highlighted by a 21.86-carat Colombian square-emerald-cut emerald, flanked by diamonds and mounted on 18K yellow gold. It was from the collection of Cecile Zilkha, a New York philanthropist and socialite, and sold for $3.6 million.

“She was part of that generation that really dressed for dinner,” says Catharine Becket, Sotheby’s SVP, head of Magnificent Jewels. “She had the wherewithal to buy serious jewels from a relatively young age and was a consistent collector. She had a very complete jewelry wardrobe because she was this great society hostess, and she dressed the part.”

All 29 items of jewelry from the Zilkha collection were sold, bringing in $11.7 million. This was almost twice the amount that had earlier been estimated.

For Sotheby’s sale the Zilkha family fortune proved to be a bonanza. In November, their fine and decorative art collection was put on the block by the auction house, and exceeded its high estimate, bringing in $12.5 million from bidders in 50 countries.

TOP FANCY COLOR DIAMOND LOTS FAIL TO SELL

In the case of the Zilkha collection, the celebrity effect seemed to have been a decisive factor. Before the sale, the expected top five lots were all fancy colored diamonds, but some failed to meet the reserve price.

The expected top lot of the sale had been a pink gold and platinum ring set with a 5.03-carat cut-cornered rectangular mixed-cut fancy vivid pink diamond, accented with two cut-cornered triangular step-cut fancy intense blue diamonds. Its pre-sale estimate was $9 million to $12 million.

The item that had been expected to take the second top price was a ring with a 2.28-carat fancy vivid blue heart-shaped diamond. Its pre-sale estimate was $2.25 million to $3.25 million.

Those two items did not sell, but the three pieces of jewelry fetching the highest prices after the Cartier emerald ring were also highlighted by fancy-colored diamonds. They included 1.71-carat heart-shaped fancy red diamond with SI2 clarity surrounded by white diamonds. It sold for more more than $3.1 million.

Next up was ring with a 3.67-carat cut-cornered rectangular modified brilliant-cut fancy intense blue diamond, flanked by two emerald-cut diamonds. It fetched more than $2.6 million. It was followed by a white and pink gold ring with 2-carat fancy vivid orange diamond as its center stone, which was sold for almost $1.9 million.

It had been expected that the top lot of Sotheby’s sale in New York would a pink gold and platinum ring set with a 5.03-carat cut-cornered rectangular mixed-cut fancy vivid pink diamond, accented with two cut-cornered triangular step-cut fancy intense blue diamonds. It failed to meet its reserve price. (Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s)

A Dior cuff bracelet designed by Victoire de Castellane Sotheby’s is one of the jewelry items being auctioned by Sotheby’s to raise money for the victims of the explosion in August that destroyed large parts of Beirut. (Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s)

AUCTION TO AID VICTIMS OF BEIRUT BLAST IN AUGUST

Sotheby’s is conducting an online sale in December where the proceeds are intended to aid the victims of the explosion that destroyed large parts of Beirut, Lebanon, on August 4. Called “To Beirut with Love,” it compriseses 16 items from from leading jewelry houses and designers, including Dior Fine Jewellery, Bulgari, Pomellato, David Morris, Stephen Webster, Gem Palace and Solange Azagury-Partridge.

Among the highlights of the sale are a pair of one-of-a-kind Vishuddha earrings by Noor Fares, a Lebanese designer based in London, featuring a step-cut aquamarine and green beryl, hand-carved turquoise and lapis lazuli, blue sapphire cabochons and diamonds.

Proceeds from the sale will benefit five charities, and is dedicated to creating shelter for displaced families and rehabilitating residential homes and local businesses.

“Lebanon is home to an artistic community whose contributions to the cultural landscape cannot be overstated,” said Edward Gibbs, Sotheby’s chairman for Tthe Middle East. “The explosion in the Port of Beirut this summer sent shockwaves through the city and the world, impacting every sector of society in Lebanon with countless tales of loss, damage and displacement. Sotheby’s has come together with our partners to host the auction ‘To Beirut with Love’ to provide much-needed relief and funds to aid the healing process.”

In total consumers plan to spend $997.79 on gifts, holiday items and additional “non-gift” purchases for themselves and their families this year, according to NRF’s annual survey released in October