The London auction house celebrates the first half-century of activity in Geneva and selects 50 exceptional pieces, including many jewels and stones ♦ ︎
Christie’s, founded in London in 1766 by James Christie, is the largest auction house in the world. But if has just exceeded the threshold of 160 years (congratulations), still has children around the world. This means detached offices that, over time, have taken on a major importance. Like the Geneva headquarters (with offices also in Zurich), which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2018. A teen age if it is compared to the parent company. But this has not prevented in five decades to beat pieces of great value.
To celebrate the birthday, Christie’s has therefore decided to summarize the years of activity in Switzerland through 50 lots, the most amazing. They are not just jewels, of course, but stones, rings and earrings make up a good part of the best beaten lots. From 1968 to today were sold pieces as the black pearl necklace (year 1969) belonging to the socialite Nina Dyer, ex-wife of Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza and Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, passed under the hammer of the auctioneer. The black pearl necklace, on the occasion, was sold for 580,000 Swiss francs, but almost 30 years later, in 1997, it was re-sold at another Christie’s auction for 1.3 million francs.
There are also historical pieces, such as the earrings with pearls donated by Louis XIV of France to his lover Marie Mancini. Sold in Geneva for 320,000 francs in 1969, they have long been one of the most expensive pairs of earrings in the world.
Christie’s auctions in Geneva, magnificent jewels that attract fans and collectors, have often been moments that have determined international parameters. In 1973, for example, an imperial 31-pearl jade necklace produced 1,250,000 Swiss francs in Geneva, and instantly became the most expensive piece of jade ever sold at auction for the time.
Then there are diamonds that have made history. Like, in 1974, The Star of South Africa. The 47.69 carat gem, brought to light by a young shepherd and sold for 500 sheep, ten oxen and a horse, was sold for 1.6 million francs, an incredible price for those years. Another diamond that left an indelible memory was, in 1980, the Polar Star diamond. Christie’s Geneva sold this 41.28 carat cushioned diamond mounted on a Boucheron ring for a price of 8 million francs. The stone had previously belonged to Joseph Bonaparte.
In short, the jewels and exceptional stones sold in Geneva by Christie’s are many (you can find some on this page). The last of the series reported among the top 50 is the series The Art of de Grisogono, an incredible piece, composed of emeralds and a gigantic 163.41 carat diamond. Really magnificent. Federico Graglia