Diamond Necklace, Bulgari, circa 1950s (Est. HK$8 – 9.5 million / US$1 – 1.2 million; lot 1768). Photo: Sotheby's.
HONG KONG.- Sotheby’s Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite Spring Sale 2015 will take place on 6 April at Hall 5, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. The upcoming sale will highlight an array of rare and important colourless and coloured diamonds, including a stunning 77.77-carat fancy vivid yellow diamond ring and a superb 23.15-carat DIF type IIa Golconda diamond ring dubbed “The Legend of Golconda”. They will be complemented by a suite of “pigeon’s blood” Burmese ruby by Faidee, an extremely rare triple-strand natural pearl necklace, as well as an outstanding jadeite bead necklace. Also highly anticipated are a selection of signed jewellery from the 1930s to the present by renowned jewellers including Bulgari, Boucheron, Marina B, as well as Tamsen Z by Ann Ziff, who is represented in the sale by her Renee Fleming Iris Brooch designed specially for the celebrated opera singer. Altogether the sale will offer approximately 320 lots estimated in excess of HK$770 million / US$99 million.
QUEK Chin Yeow, Deputy Chairman of Sotheby’s Asia and Chairman of International Jewellery, Asia said, “This Spring, we are delighted to have assembled for Sotheby’s Hong Kong auction a bejewelled kaleidoscope of gems, from divine diamonds, coloured stones and pearls to jadeite, including the reddest of rubies to tempt the most discerning of collectors, in Asia and around the world. Connoisseurs can also expect a dazzling feast of marvellous vintage and contemporary designs from some of the world’s most celebrated jewellers.”
Europe’s earliest passion for diamonds was piqued by Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, the 17th-century French gem merchant who was among the firsts to visit India’s Golconda mines in 1640. King Louis XIV of France, upon beholding the unbelievable purity and beauty of the stones presented by Tavernier, described the diamonds as “pools of crystal water”.
Indeed, Golconda diamonds stand out from all others with their superb transparency, as they are Type IIa diamonds and therefore nitrogen-free and chemically pure. The Legend of Golconda, a 23.15carat D-colour Internally Flawless Type IIa Diamond Ring (Est. HK$34 – 40 million / US$4.3 – 50 million; lot 1910), possesses all the qualities that are reminiscent of treasures from Golconda. Its antique cut demonstrates the balance of brilliance and dispersion that gives the diamond its distinct character and beauty. Its impeccable crystalline structure places it among history’s most prominent diamonds, such as the Koh-i-Noor and The Regent.
The Legend of Golconda, a 23.15carat D-colour Internally Flawless Type IIa Diamond Ring (Est. HK$34 – 40 million / US$4.3 – 50 million; lot 1910). Photo: Sotheby's.
Yellow diamonds owe their colour to the presence of nitrogen in the diamond crystal structure. Pure yellow diamonds with no modifying hues are relatively rare and greatly sought after. The world auction record for yellow diamond was set twice at Sotheby’s Geneva in the past few years, first in 2011 with the sale of “The Sun-Drop Diamond” (renamed “The Lady Dalal”), a 110.03-carat pear-shaped fancy vivid yellow diamond, for CHF11,282,500 (US$12,361,558), one of the largest diamonds ever to appear at auction. It was set again more recently, when the sensational and rare Graff Vivid Yellow weighing 100.09 carat sold for CHF14,501,000 (US$16,347,799) in November 2014.
This spring, Sotheby’s will offer another extraordinary 77.77-carat VS2 Fancy Vivid Yellow Diamond and Diamond Ring (Est. HK$53 – 58 million / US$6.8 – 7.5 million; lot 1897). Seven is an auspicious number for the Chinese and the luckiest number in the West representing wealth. This exceptional size is extremely rare for any diamond, and the fancy vivid yellow colour ranks the diamond as having the finest saturation of colour.
77.77-carat VS2 Fancy Vivid Yellow Diamond and Diamond Ring. (Est. HK$53 – 58 million / US$6.8 – 7.5 million; lot 1897). Photo: Sotheby's
One of the rarest among fancy coloured diamonds, pink diamonds are highly sought after in the auction market and the demand has driven prices to remarkable levels. Throughout the history of auction a total of eight pink diamonds sold for over a million US dollars per carat. The last example was a superb 8.41-carat fancy vivid purple-pink diamond sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in October 2014 for HK$138.6 million / US$17.77 million, setting the world auction record for fancy vivid pink diamonds which still stands today.
This 4.57-carat Internally Flawless Fancy Vivid Pink Diamond and Diamond Ring mounted by Carvin French (Est. HK$48 – 55 million / US$6 – 7 million; lot 1919) earns itself a place in the hall of fame alongside other legendary pink diamonds. “Fancy Vivid” is the highest grading by GIA (Gemmological Institute of America) for fancy coloured diamonds. For every million carats of rough only one carat of polished pink diamond is produced and only approximately one in ten million polished pink diamonds attains the “Fancy Vivid” pink grading. This heart-shaped stone demonstrates a subtle balance of hue and saturation akin to that of neon pink. Combined with Internally Flawless clarity which is rarely found in pink diamonds, this stone exemplifies the best of hue, saturation and clarity in a pink diamond and qualifies as a true miracle of Nature.
4.57-carat Internally Flawless Fancy Vivid Pink Diamond and Diamond Ring mounted by Carvin French (Est. HK$48 – 55 million / US$6 – 7 million; lot 1919). Photo: Sotheby's
This is complemented by a Rare and Exquisite Pair of 4.01 Carat Fancy Intense PurplePink Diamond, 3.72 Carat Fancy Intense Purplish-Pink Diamond and Diamond Pendent Earrings (Est. HK$48 – 55 million / US$6 – 7 million; lot 1750). Given their rarity it is a considerable challenge to assemble two fancy intense pink diamonds of matching colour, size and cut and hardly any has appeared in the auction market in pairs since 2006. This pair of earrings would certainly be a prized addition to any jewellery collection.
Rare and Exquisite Pair of 4.01 Carat Fancy Intense Purple Pink Diamond, 3.72 Carat Fancy Intense Purplish-Pink Diamond and Diamond Pendent Earrings (Est. HK$48 – 55 million / US$6 – 7 million; lot 1750). Photo: Sotheby's
VINTAGE AND CONTEMPORARY SIGNED JEWELLERY
This Spring Sotheby’s Hong Kong has assembled a selection of vintage and contemporary signed pieces by renowned jewellers, including such classic names as Bulgari and Boucheron as well as contemporary designers, namely Marina B and Tamsen Z.
The economic boom after the World War II signified a return of jewellery set lavishly with precious gemstones, and above all, with diamonds. By the 1950s, motifs and lines had evolved to become more sinuous and soft as compared to the Art Deco era, with three-dimensional design of furled ribbons as typical trait at that time. This magnificent Diamond Necklace from Bulgari (Est. HK$8 – 9.5 million / US$1 – 1.2 million; lot 1768) created circa 1950s beautifully epitomises the trend. Punctuated by large stones including a 7.04-carat pear-shaped DIF diamond, this necklace demonstrates purity of form and a certain compactness that was unprecedented.
Diamond Necklace, Bulgari, circa 1950s. (Est. HK$8 – 9.5 million / US$1 – 1.2 million; lot 1768). Photo: Sotheby's.
Bulgari was not afraid to play up importance of colourful gemstones, which were selected not only for their alluring colour, but also their impressive sizes and fine quality. The present pair of 7.80 and 7.10-carat Unheated Burmese Mogok Ruby and Diamond Pendent Earrings from Bulgari (Est. HK$35 – 40 million / US$4.5 – 5 million; lot 1767) stands as a perfect testament to the Italian master’s sublime artistry, as well as an epitome of Bulgari’s exclusive magnetism and eminent style.
7.80 and 7.10-carat Unheated Burmese Mogok Ruby and Diamond Pendent Earrings from Bulgari. (Est. HK$35 – 40 million / US$4.5 – 5 million; lot 1767). Photo: Sotheby's.
Marina Bulgari, the granddaughter of Sotirio Bulgari, founder of the illustrious Bulgari dynasty, created her own signature brand in 1977, seamlessly integrating striking geometric patterns carved from colourful gemstones and resplendent diamonds, while finding inspiration from Greek and Italian mythology, nature and animals, objects d’art and architecture. The present Pair of Unheated Kashmir Sapphire and Diamond Pendent Earrings, Marina B. (Est. HK$5 – 6 million / US$650,000 – 740,000; lot 1703) is set with 18 sapphires of matching colour and quality from the fabled Kashmir mine, altogether weighing 38.56 carats and suspending from a geometric surmount with a precision in form and proportion that is typical of the Marina B aesthetics. This combination of rarity and creativity makes this a true treasure of timeless glamour.
Pair of Unheated Kashmir Sapphire and Diamond Pendent Earrings, Marina B. (Est. HK$5 – 6 million / US$650,000 – 740,000; lot 1703). Photo: Sotheby's.
one of the most beloved and celebrated sopranos of our times, Renée Fleming was a recipient of both the National Medals of Arts and Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Solo in 2013. Her consummate artistry, grace and beauty are encapsulated in an arresting Gem-Set and Diamond “Renée Fleming Iris” Brooch, Tamsen Z by Ann Ziff (Est. HK$620,000 – 780,000 / US$80,000 – 10,000; lot 1890), who is known for her audacious mix of colours that heightens modernity and quintessential opulence. This unique brooch is modelled after a charming breed of iris, which was exclusively created by hybridizer Heather Pryor and named after Renée Fleming in 2004.
Gem-Set and Diamond “Renée Fleming Iris” Brooch, Tamsen Z by Ann Ziff (Est. HK$620,000 – 780,000 / US$80,000 – 10,000; lot 1890). Photo: Sotheby's.
Also noteworthy is a 65.33-carat Colombian Emerald and Diamond Necklace, Boucheron, Circa 1930s (Est, HK$2.5 – 3.2 million / US$320,000 – 410,000; lot 1891). The dazzling diamond collar, highlighted by the Colombian emerald of stunning proportions, radiates captivating glamour reminiscent of the roaring thirties.
65.33-carat Colombian Emerald and Diamond Necklace, Boucheron, Circa 1930s. (Est, HK$2.5 – 3.2 million / US$320,000 – 410,000; lot 1891). Photo: Sotheby's.
NATURAL COLOURED GEMSTONES
Burmese rubies have been highly coveted in recent years, fetching astonishing prices in auction rooms worldwide. The finest above all are rubies from Burma. Apart from displaying extremely fiery colour intensity due to a saturated crimson body colour and a strong red fluorescence, the tiny needles inclusions typically found in Burmese rubies scatter light onto facets and give the gems a velvety and hypnotic soft glow
Among Burmese rubies, the specific red colour named “Pigeon’s blood”, primarily found in rubies from the famed Mogok Valley, is considered the most superior. As natural unheated Burmese ruby become increasingly rare, the importance of this Unheated Burmese Pigeon’s Blood Ruby and Diamond Necklace and Pair of Marching Earrings, Faidee (Est. HK$20 – 24 million / US$2.6 – 30 million; lot 1751), set with rubies totalling 124.8 carats and diamonds totalling 59.25 carats could not be overemphasised. Every gem was painstakingly handpicked, cut and polished to perfection specifically for this necklace even if that meant inevitable weight loss in the process. Each ruby was cleverly set to conceal the metal mount, which affords an air of purity to its unique design. The collection of these well-matched Burmese unheated rubies took more than two decades to complete and the idea of creating another ruby suite of comparable quality today is practically unimaginable.
Unheated Burmese Pigeon’s Blood Ruby and Diamond Necklace and Pair of Marching Earrings, Faidee. (Est. HK$20 – 24 million / US$2.6 – 30 million; lot 1751). Photo: Sotheby's.
Complementing the fiery ruby suite is a 10.02-carat Colombian No Oil Emerald and Diamond Ring (Est. HK$4.6 – 5.5 million / US$590,000 – 700,000; lot 1746) of striking proportions. Completely free from clarity enhancement, the captivating natural beauty of the Colombian emerald is accentuated by the dazzling diamonds and the simple design.
10.02-carat Colombian No Oil Emerald and Diamond Ring. (Est. HK$4.6 – 5.5 million / US$590,000 – 700,000; lot 1746). Photo: Sotheby's.
The beguiling elegance and sophistication of natural pearls is expressed in their sheer simplicity and pure form. It takes approximately ten thousand oysters in nature to yield a single pearl and only a minority of these pearls will be of desirable quality to be used in jewellery. Strung with 137 pearls measuring 14.10 to 6.20 mm in diameter, of matching colours, shapes and mirror-like lustre, this Triple-Strand Natural Pearl and Sapphire Necklace (Est. HK$26 – 30 million / US$3.3 – 3.8 million; lot 1913) is the result of an exceedingly difficult collection process. It is of no doubt a true treasure of subtle extravagance and extreme rarity. This is complemented by a Natural Saltwater Pearl and Diamond Pendent Earrings (Est. HK$4 – 4.6 million / US$500,000 – 600,000; lot 1747) of equally charming understated elegance.
Triple-Strand Natural Pearl and Sapphire Necklace. (Est. HK$26 – 30 million / US$3.3 – 3.8 million; lot 1913). Photo: Sotheby's.
Natural Saltwater Pearl and Diamond Pendent Earrings. (Est. HK$4 – 4.6 million / US$500,000 – 600,000; lot 1747). Photo: Sotheby's.
With a scarce supply and increasing demand, top-quality natural jadeite jewels have achieved remarkable results at auction in recent years. A set of two jadeite bead necklaces from the Republican period sourced from an overseas Chinese collection achieved HK$42.68 million / US$5.47 million in 2013, before the famous Hutton-Mdivani necklace was purchased by the Cartier Collection for a staggering HK$214 million / US$30.6 million in 2014, setting world auction records for any jadeite jewellery and a Cartier jewel.
This Spring Sotheby’s will present a Jadeite Bead and Diamond Necklace (Est. HK$45 – 55 million / US$5.8 – 7 million; lot 1889), featuring 67 jadeite beads measuring approximately 11.07 to 9.32 mm in diameter. Of matching fine texture and intensely saturated green colour, the beads would have to be carved from a single boulder of significant size which is extremely rare.
Jadeite Bead and Diamond Necklace. (Est. HK$45 – 55 million / US$5.8 – 7 million; lot 1889). Photo: Sotheby's.
Also offered is a Jadeite and Diamond Necklace (Est. HK$15 – 18 million / US$2 – 2.25 million; lot 1761) set with eighteen “laokeng” (old mine) jadeite pieces in classic cabochon form, which accentuates its mesmerising colour and beautiful translucency, flanked by dazzling diamonds.
Jadeite cabochon and Diamond Necklace. (Est. HK$15 – 18 million / US$2 – 2.25 million; lot 1761). Photo: Sotheby's.
Jadeite connoisseurs would also be delighted by a splendid bangle, which is one of the most prevalent forms of jadeite jewellery. Of an inner diameter and thickness of approximately 56.68 and 12.15mm respectively, this Jadeite Bangle (Est. HK$22 – 26 million / US$2.8 – 3.3 million; lot 1888) glows with a pleasing luminous green hue.
Jadeite Bangle. (Est. HK$22 – 26 million / US$2.8 – 3.3 million; lot 1888). Photo: Sotheby's.
Another highlight is a Jadeite “Eggplant”, Yellow Diamond and Diamond Pendant (Est. HK$7.5 – 8.5 million / US$950,000 – 1.1 million; lot 1884) of exceptional translucency. Of an impressive thickness of over 10 mm such translucency is no less than a combination of natural miracle and excellent craftsmanship in cutting and polishing. Combined with a vibrant emerald green colour, its appeal will certainly captivate the eye of a jadeite connoisseur.
Jadeite “Eggplant”, Yellow Diamond and Diamond Pendant. (Est. HK$7.5 – 8.5 million / US$950,000 – 1.1 million; lot 1884). Photo: Sotheby's.