Big, beautiful and expensive jewels and gems: Sotheby’s has planned a rich spring for collectors of exceptional pieces. The auction house has put on sale, for example, gems weighing over 100 carats, a psychological limit that attracts the attention of those who love or invest in precious stones.
The fascination for large gems goes back centuries. Shrouded in mystery and steeped in legend, these stones have been treasured by rulers, while also prized for their presumed magical powers, and even sometimes feared for being cursed. In recent years, by virtue of the market’s increasing connoisseurship, we have seen demand for these gems grow fast and far beyond the traditional pool of collectors. These new buyers are looking for different kinds of stones, and this is reflected in the great diversity of this season’s offering, which range from unmounted world-class diamonds and diamond-led jewellery, to pieces with noble provenance and signed jewels marrying colourful gemstones with the extraordinary craftmanship of renowned houses, such as Cartier and Harry Winston.
Gary Schuler, world president of the jewelry division
Part of this small group of exceptions is a brooch with sapphires and diamonds from the 1930s, with the largest Kashmir sapphire ever to appear at auction and which will be auctioned in Geneva on 11 May: it is a 55.19 carat oval gem. , along with another cushion-shaped Kashmiri sapphire weighing 25.97 carats. The jewel was part of the collection of Maureen Constance Guinness, Marquise of Dufferin and Ava (1907-1998). The estimate is 2-3 million dollars.
With their mining history dating to just a few short years at the end of the 19th century, Kashmir sapphires are among the rarest coloured gemstones known to man. Coveted for their unique set of characteristics, including their unrivalled, rich cornflower blue hue, their soft, velvety texture and the fact that they retain their lustre in any light, these gems have over the years acquired an almost legendary status. Kashmir sapphires of over 30 carats are a very rare occurrence, so the appearance of a gem of 55.19 carats – the largest ever to come at auction – is an important event. Hailing a distinguished provenance and set as a stunning brooch alongside another Kashmir sapphire, it will undoubtedly evoke much interest among collectors.
Benoit Repellin, head of Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels auction in Geneva
The Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels auction also includes other exceptional sapphires, such as the sapphire and diamond necklace, which supports a detachable pendant with a cushion-shaped 111.73-carat Ceylon sapphire and royal blue color. Another necklace with sapphires and diamonds, on the other hand, is signed Harry Winston, and dates back to around 1969. The jewel has a detachable pendant set with a cushion-shaped 126.43-carat sapphire of Ceylon origin.
Another highlight of the auction will be Harry Winston’s brooch / pendant combination with emeralds and diamonds, circa 1974, with a 104.40-carat pear-shaped emerald of Colombian origin. Also on sale is another brooch / pendant with emeralds and diamonds, set with an 80.45-carat step-cut emerald of Colombian origin. Among the prominent pieces there are diamonds, such as the ring with a 40.08 carat emerald-cut square diamond, color D, Flawless, type IIa and a diamond ring from the Noble collection, Harry Winston Set, with a diamond a 43.24 carat pear shape, color D, clarity VVS1, type IIa Est diamond. Also by the American jeweler a diamond necklace, circa 1973, with eight pear-shaped diamonds weighing between 3.77 and 20, 72 carats, for a total of 280 carats.