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DIAMONDS AT AUCTION

BLUE DIAMONDS AND OL’ BLUE EYES ON SHOW AT NEW YORK AUCTIONS

The 2018 fall auction season is shaping up to one of the best ever in recorded history, following the sales earlier this month at Christie’s in Geneva of an 18.96-carats vivid pink diamond for $50 million (50,375,000 Swiss francs), which was immediately renamed the Winston Pink Legacy by its new owner, and the possibly even more astounding sale of a pearl and diamond pendant that once belonged to Queen Marie Antoinette, for a massive $32 million at  Sotheby’s in Geneva.

ABOVE: A 20.60-carat ring, which Ol’ Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra, proposed to his wife of 22 years, Barbara, will be a highlight of Sotheby’s jewelry sale in New York on December 4.

The 10.62-carat fancy vivid blue diamond, with a pre-sale value of between $20 million and $30 million, which will go on sales at Sotheby’s in New York on December 4. (Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s)

Eyes now turn to New York, where Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels sale on December 4 will be led by a 10.62-carat fancy vivid blue diamond with a pre-sale value of between $20 million and $30 million. Said to be a from an important private collection in Europe, its clarity of graded as VVS1 and it is set in a ring, accented by considerably smaller white side stones.

Even if the diamond achieves its high price estimate, or nominally surpasses it, it is still not likely to break records. In May 2016, the Oppenheimer Blue, 14.62-carat vivid blue sold at Christie’s in Geneva for $50.6 million, briefly becoming the most expensive blue gem ever sold.

Christie’s Magnificent Jewels sale in New York on December 5 will also feature a large vivid blue diamond ring by Bulgari. Weighing 8.08 carats, its price estimate is between $13 million and $18 million. The auction house describes it as a “miracle of nature” and claims that it “may be counted among the finest blue diamonds ever to have come to market.”

BUYERS CONSIDER THE CELEBRITY FACTOR

While the drop-shaped natural pearl pendant sold for $32 million was indeed massive, the price was not really justified by the size or quality of gem. Undoubtedly, the primary factor generating excitement in the salesroom was its original owner, Marie Antoinette.

Celebrity has long been a factor in high profile jewelry sales, with possibly the most famous sale taking place in April 1987 at Sotheby’s in Geneva, involving the jewelry of Wallis Simpson, the American divorcee who became the Duchess of Windsor after she married the former King Edward VIII of England, who was forced to abdicate his throne. During their 35 years of marriage she built up a valuable collection of necklaces, bracelets, brooches and earrings, purchased from Van Cleef & Arpels or Cartier.  Many were custom designed and given as gifts to commemorate special occasions often inscribed with personal messages from the Duke.

The Duchess of Windsor sale, which took place less than a year after the once Mrs. Simpson died, brought in $50.3 million dollars, a huge sum at the time, and was donated to the Pasteur Institute, which is a hospital and research center located in Paris, France. This was a personal request of the Duchess, and was meant to be a show of their appreciation to the people of France, where couple had lived after being banished from England.

 DIAMONDS COURTESY OF OL’ BLUE EYES

Celebrity is certainly a feature of the December 4 sale in New York of Sotheby’s, which will include pieces the socialite Margaretta “Happy” Rockefeller, who was once married to Nelson Rockefeller, a former governor of New York and U.S. vice president during the presidency of Gerald Ford.

But it is likely to be pieces from collections of Frank and Barbara Sinatra that generate the most excitement at the Sotheby’s sale. Married for 22 years, the auction will include 200 pieces from the estate of Barbara, who died last year in December. Frank died in 1998.

Among the items on sale is a 20.60-carat engagement ring, with a high price estimate $1.5 million. It is said that when Frank proposed, he threw two diamonds onto a bed including the emerald-cut diamond, and told her to pick one. He then had it set in a ring, which he later dropped it into a glass of champagne for her to discover.

Other pieces of jewelry that will be featured include items by Van Cleef & Arpels, Bulgari, David Webb and Marina B, who was one of Barbara’s favorite designers.

The 8.08-carat vivid blue diamond ring by Bulgari that will be featured at the Christie’s Magnificent Jewels sale in New York on December 5. Its price estimate is between $13 million and $18 million.(Photo courtesy of Christie’s)