The Rockefeller Sapphire. Photo Christie's Image Ltd 2001
The rectangular-cut sapphire weighing approximately 62.02 carats, flanked by cut-cornered triangular-cut diamonds, mounted in platinum. Signed Tiffany & Co. Estimate $3,000,000 - $5,000,000. Price Realized $3,031,000
With special report 0101030 from Gubelin stating that the origin of the sapphire is Burma (Myanmar) as well as extensive additional notes discussing the exceptional rarity of the stone. . World auction record per carat for a sapphire at $175,259 per carat.
Provenance: Prior to 1934, Nizam of Hyderabad
1934-1971, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (1874-1960)
24 November 1971, Zurich, Switzerland, sold at auction $170,000
8 May 1980, Zurich, Switzerland, sold at auction $1,500,000
20 February 1988, St. Moritz, Switzerland, sold at auction $2,850,000
THE ROCKEFELLER SAPPHIRE
The word "Masterpiece" is normally associated with manmade creations. Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Vincent van Gogh or Pablo Picasso are all artists whose genius have left an indelible mark on our civilization. Nature can also leave its mark, whether it be Mount Everest, the Northern Lights or the Grand Canyon, these are all phenomenon at which to marvel. In the world of gemstones there is no question that the Rockefeller Sapphire should be considered a masterpiece, the sheer scale and life of the stone being something remarkable to behold.
The Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. and The Tower of London house three of the most Historic sapphire's known: the Logan (422.99 carats), the Star of Bombay (181.82 carats), and the Stuart Sapphire (approximately 104 carats), which is set in theUnited Kingdom's Imperial State Crown. Others include the Catherine the Great Sapphire (337 carats), the Raspoli Sapphire (132 carats) and the extraordinary 62.02 carat Rockefeller Sapphire. When one is asked to judge a sapphire on size, shape, color, and clarity the one by which all other gems are measured is the extraordinary 62.02 carat Rockefeller Sapphire.
The best gems, colored stones or diamonds have traditionally come from India, and the famous sub-continent is synonymous with legendary jewels. The Agra Diamond (31.50 carats), The Koh-I-nor (108.93 carats) and the Orlov (189.60 carats) are all stones inextricably linked to the majesty of Mogul India. Among the first europeans allowed to examine these gems was Jean Baptiste Tavernier (1605-1689) who provided illustrations of several stones he had seen in his work "Six Voyages of Jean Baptisite Tavernier". It is therefore of no surprise to learn that the Rockefeller Sapphire like so many of the world's most important gems also has its origins from this sacred land.
John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937) created the modern oil industry, providing inexpensive gasoline for the nation. He also set up institutions and educational programs that flourish to this day. Of all the families it is the Rockefellers that perfectly illustrate the American dream and extraordinary success. Whether it be business or philanthropy the contribution made to the United States over the twentieth century has been overwhelming. After 1910 John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (1874-1960) devoted his life to philanthropy and, with his father participated in the creation of the General Education Board, the Rockefeller University, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Laura Spellman Rockefeller memorial. However it is probably the Rockefeller center in New York City that he may be best remembered for, and it is this landmark that is one of the most iconagraphic buildings in the United States. More than 75,000 people worked on the construction at the height of the Depression era. A series of nineteen commercial buildings covering eleven acres from 49th-52nd street in mid-town Manhattan, this complex has always been one of the most prestigious business addresses in the world. His contributions to conservation are no less important from the National Parks of Acadia and Grand Teton to museums in the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone. In the world of culture and the arts John D. Rockefeller, Jr. is most famous for his restoration of colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. Williamsburg had been Virginia's colonial capital and had ranked in the 18th century ranked alongside Boston and New York. During the restoration hundreds of nineteenth and twentieth century buildings were removed with faithfully reconstructed buildings and gardens built to illustrate the original grandeur of this beautiful city.
In 1934 John D. Rockefeller, Jr. purchased the sapphire from the an Indian Maharajah rumored to have been the Nizam of Hyderabad through Raymond Yard who advised him on many of his jewelry transactions. Raymond Yard was also a close friend of Raphael Esmerian (1903-1976), the world's leading gem dealer of his time. Esmerian would appraise it on a regular basis. This was an opportunity for him to look at one of his favorite gems and to speak of the stone's perfection. In the early 1940's Esmerian was consulted by Pierre Cartier to improve the stone as it was to be remounted as a brooch for Rockefeller's wife, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller (1874-1948). Cartier recut the stone to approximately 66 carats and made a brooch with calibré-cut sapphires and diamonds. In the 1950's Rockefeller's second wife, Martha Baird Rockefeller (1895-1971) had the brooch redesigned by Raymond Yard. In the winter of 1971, the Rockefeller family sold the jewelry from John D. Rockefeller, Jr.'s estate in Zurich. The sapphire was purchased by Raphael Esmerian for approximately $170,000 and then sold the following year to an Italian private client. Upon this man's death, the family consigned the stone once more for auction in the spring of 1980. This time it was bought by Ralph Esmerian, Raphael's son, for approximately $1,500,000. Ralph Esmerian has continued his father's legacy by dealing in rare gems and exquisite objects in New York. It was after this purchase that the stone was repolished to it's weight of 62.02 carats and mounted in a platinum ring. In 1986 it was sold to an American private collector who only collected stones of the highest caliber. Other gems in his collection included the Ashoka, a superb D color, Internally Flawless diamond of 41.37 carats, a 20.00 carat square-cut pink diamond and an extraordinary green diamond of 3.02 carats. In 1988, this collection was sold at auction in St Moritz. The Rockefeller sapphire fetched a world record price of $2,850,000 and was purchased again by Ralph Esmerian who sold it to its present owner.
Throughout it's life, The Rockefeller Sapphire has only had itself surrounded by the best and in this auction it is accompanied by a spectacular document compiled by Gubelin, the world renowned Gemological Laboratory in Switzerland. This report stands as testimony to the rarity of this jewel and is a unique commentary on one of nature's masterpieces.
Literature: Penny Proddow, "American Jewelry", Rizzoli, New York, 1987, page 117
Christie's. MAGNIFICENT JEWELS. 11 April 2001. New York - www.christies.com