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David Bennett explores four extraordinary diamonds from the upcoming auction of Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels in Geneva on 13 May 2014, including the ‘Graff Vivid Yellow’ and an 103.46 carat round diamond.

The Pink Dream sold at Sotheby’s Geneva for $83,187,381 (CHF 76,325,000), a world auction record for a diamond or jewel. Watch highlights from the Magnificent Jewels auction on 13 November 2013.



The Graff Vivid Yellow set a new world auction record for a yellow diamond yesterday at Sotheby’s Geneva, achieving $16.3 million. The sale of Magnificent Jewels & Noble Jewels totaled $141.5 million – a world auction record for a jewelry auction – establishing a total of 7 records.

The Graff Vivid Yellow set a new world auction record for a yellow diamond yesterday at Sotheby’s Geneva, achieving $16.3 million. The sale of Magnificent Jewels & Noble Jewels totaled $141.5 million – a world auction record for a jewelry auction – establishing a total of 7 records.


Featuring a cushion modified brilliant fancy vivid yellow diamond weighing 100.09 carats, the shoulders embellished with brilliant-cut diamonds,size 50, signed Graff, diamond detachable from band and may be worn as a pendant, case by Graff.




re-printed from Sotheby’s Auction Catalog….

Designed as a phoenix set with brilliant- and single-cut diamonds of yellow tint, the tail feathers similarly set, accented with pear-shaped emeralds and a cabochon sapphire, suspending from the beak a detachable fancy vivid yellow diamond briolette weighing 96.62 carats,tail feathers detachable into a pair of ear clips and a brooch, brooch signed V.C.A., numbered.

The fancy vivid yellow diamond briolette was purchased at the Sotheby’s (Parke Bernet) auction in New York from the Collection of the Jewels of Madame Ganna Walska which was held in 1971. Van Cleef & Arpels bought the briolette and immediately named it the “Walska Briolette” after the fabled lady and one of their great Patrons.

In 1972 an important American collector commissioned Van Cleef & Arpels to mount the briolette as a present for his wife. The Maison created a transformational piece as a setting for the “Walska Briolette” : a Phoenix in yellow gold set with yellow and white diamonds, emeralds and sapphires. The fabulous 96.62 carat briolette is suspended from the bird’s beak but can be detached and worn separately as a pendant. The birds wings also detach and form a pair of earrings and the tail can be transformed into a brooch. In 2010 the 96.62 carat briolette was graded by the GIA as Fancy Vivid Yellow, VS2 clarity. In 2011, the brooch was sold privately to the current owner, a Distinguished Private Collector, who has consigned it for sale in this auction.

This spectacular brooch has been the centrepiece of recent retrospective international jewellery exhibitions held by Van Cleef & Arpels:

“The Spirit of Beauty”, Mori Arts Center Gallery, Tokyo 2010.
“Set in Style: The Jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels”, the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, New York 2011.
“The Art of High Jewelry”, the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Paris 2012.




Sotheby’s Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite Spring Sale

Totals HK$831.6 Million / US$106.6 Million





The Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite Auction was April 7th that evening, QUEK Chin Yeow, Deputy Chairman and Head of Jewellery Department, Sotheby’s Asia, said:

“Sotheby’s offering of the greatest jadeite bead necklace in the world, The Hutton-Mdivani Necklace, in today’s Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite sale enters the annals of auction history as one of the mostthrilling saleroom competitions ever.

Eight bidders in the room and on the phones competed for 20 minutes driving the price to double the estimate and achieving a World Auction Record for any Jadeite Jewellery and a Cartier Jewel of HK$214 million / US$27.44 million, a price which fully lives up to the storied past of this captivating workof art, which had caused enormous excitement among jewellery cognoscenti. Sotheby’s is pleased to confirm that the Necklace was acquired by The Cartier Collection.

Sotheby’s also set a World Auction Record for a Ruby when another extraordinary highlight, a 29.62-Carat Cushion-Shaped Oval Burmese Mogok Ruby and Diamond Ring byCartier brought HK$57.24 million / US$7.34 million.”



THE WORLD’S FINEST DIAMONDS - At Least The Finest Sold By Christie’s


The world’s most famous pear-shaped diamond is the Cullinan I, a colourless, Type IIA stone of 530.20 carats, which forms part of the British Crown Jewels.  It is also the largest colourless diamond known.

During the past years, some of the world’s finest gemstones have experienced a surge in demand at auction. Christie’s holds multiple world auction records for the most valuable colourless diamonds.

- The current auction record for a colourless diamond was set by the historical 76.02 carats cushion-shaped Archduke Joseph Diamond when it sold for US$21.5 million at Christie’s Geneva in November 2012.

- In May 2011, a perfectly symmetrical 56 carat heart-shaped diamond, sold for more than $10.9 million becoming the most valuable heart-shaped diamond ever sold at auction.

- In December 2011, Christie’s New York sold the spectacular D-color, 33.19 carat Elizabeth Taylor Diamond ring that the star wore virtually every day since receiving it as a gift from Richard Burton in 1968. This extraordinary jewel fetched US $8.8 million.



1.  The Archduke Joseph Diamond

A cushion-shaped D colour, internally flawless Golconda diamond of 76.02 carats


Christie’s Geneva  - 13 November 2012

US$21,474,525   ($280,000 per ct)


2.  A heart-shaped D colour, internally flawless diamond of 56.15 carats


Christie’s Geneva 18 May 2011

US$10,946,422   ($195,000 per ct)


3.  A pear-shaped D colour, internally flawless diamond pendant of 50.52 ct

Christie’s New York   16 October 2012

US$9,490,500   ($188,000 per ct)


4.  The Elizabeth Taylor Diamond

A rectangular-cut D, VS1, potentially flawless, diamond ring of 33.19 carats

Christie’s New York    13 December 2011

US$8,818,500    ($265,697 per ct)


5.  A rectangular-cut D, VVS2, diamond ring of 50.01 cts, by Graff

Christie’s New York    10 December 2012    

US$8,370,500    ($167,400 per ct)



His Lover’s Eye….

According to an article on the Antiques Roadshow website back in the early days of Revolutionary War - while George the third was fighting the rebels in the new world….his son, while pursuing youthful indulgences, gave rise to a new fad.


The young Prince’s lover at the time, a commoner, gave the Prince a locket which included a beautiful portrait of one of her eyes.  The idea being that only the lovers would know the identity of each other.  

…the fad caught on and we have Lover’s Eye Jewelry, a term believed to have been coined by antiques dealer Edith Weber of Edith Weber & Assoc.


At this weekend’s Los Angeles Antique Jewelry & Watch Show I met Nan Summerfield of Summerfield’s Unique Antique and Fine Jewelry - a lovely young lady in her booth told us the story of their Lover’s Eye Ring!

Egyptian Revival Necklace from the Los Angeles Antique Jewelry & Watch Show

Egyptian Revival Necklace from the Los Angeles Antique Jewelry & Watch Show



Spotlight on the Five Rare Egyptian Revival Pieces in Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels Auction

Five Rare Egyptian-Revival Jewels
Lots 406-410

All five pieces are from Cartier and though Ancient Egypt had been a design inspiration throughout the 19th century, particularly in France, from the time of Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt in 1798, although the effect was really only felt in the jewelry world in the 1860s…after the Prince of Wales’ visit to Egypt in 1862 and then when the British took control of Egypt in the 1880s.

The November 1922 discovery of the boy king Tutankhamun’s tomb, with its breathtaking jewels, talismanic objects and the magnificent golden burial mask, brought the world to a frenzy for all things Egyptomania. 

Cartier began to design and make Egyptian style jewels as early as 1910, and continued the theme into the 1930s. Their earlier jewels were designed by Charles Jacqueau, in Paris, under Louis Cartier’s inspired direction, incorporating motifs like the lotus and the pylon — the temple gateway, with its tapered rectangular structures — as in the brooch in this collection. The geometry and stylization of Egyptian art and ornament was perfectly in tune with the linear, two-dimensionality of the emerging new style that came to be called Art Deco.

What is clear too is that Cartier’s Egyptian revival jewels, throughout the period of their production, were the result of very serious in-depth study and research, their design and creation underpinned by a dedication to authenticity.

Louis Cartier, who masterminded these jewels, was an avid collector of Egyptian antiquities, which were found for him by specialist Paris dealers. In his seminal book on Cartier, Nadelhoffer tells us that in 1914, one dealer in particular, Kalebdjian sold Louis Cartier a series of antiquities, mostly glazed faience figures, many of which very likely became the inspiration and the starting point for these unique jewels. The use of antique elements was to become a Cartier tradition.

The fan-shaped brooch (lot 410), spectacularly theatrical, of sublime proportions, is designed around a faience figure, Late Period, 716-30 BC, depicting the warrior goddess Sekhmet, shown in profile, as a lioness, bearing a solar disc and Uraeus on her head. The faience fragment is set into a lapis semi-circle, creating a night sky studded with diamond stars, framed in an enamel and stylized diamond lotus blossom border, set onto a single large stylized lotus blossom mounted in gold and platinum.  The image of Sekhmet, powerful protector of Pharaohs, set against the night-time heavens, produces a strong, atmospheric effect; the use of lapis is inspired by the Egyptians’ love of this material, and their obsession with the color blue, the auspicious, protective color of the heavens, replicated in the use of deep blue faience glazes. The form of the brooch is taken from the flabellum, the long-stemmed fan formed of ostrich feathers, attached to a semi-circular base, used by the ancient Egyptians, in everyday life, and in burial, to signify and celebrate the spirit.

This brooch, made in 1923, the year of the momentous discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb, is one of only two similar designs, made by Cartier London. The second, sold at Sotheby’s New York on December 4, 2007, was also semi-circular in form and set with a faience plaque, with a border of papyrus and a large lotus blossom below. Made for stock in November 1923, Cartier sold it in January 1925. The first brooch offered here was exhibited at the French Industrial Exposition, Grand Central Palace, New York, in 1924, and probably at the 1925 Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes. It was also one of a group of Egyptian-inspired jewels illustrated in a Cartier advertisement, in the Illustrated London News, 26th January 1924, showing “The Tutankhamen Influence in Modern Jewelry.” The copy below the illustration which gives descriptions of the pieces and their faience antiquities, (incorrectly describing the fragment in the fan brooch as a sacred ram) says “Women interested in Egyptology, who desire to be in the Tutankhamen fashion, can now wear real ancient gems in modern settings as personal ornaments.”

Also illustrated in this advertisement are two of the jewels that had belonged to Iya, Lady Abdy, (1897-1993) the pylon shaped brooch, and the Isis pin (the top altered from the original). The pylon brooch (lot 407), with a later addition of gemstones to the lower edge has a glazed faience centerpiece, dated to New Kingdom, 1540-1075 BC, set upside down, and is framed in gemstones. The top border is set with calibrated colored gems, arranged in stripes, in a style that strikes both the right note of Egyptian geometric formality and, along with the monochrome scheme of diamonds and black enamel, perfectly contemporizes the ancient fragment. As noted from the advertisement, gems have been added to the lower edge of the brooch; Lady Abdy was well known for re-modeling and changing her jewels. The first wife of English shipowner Sir Robert Henry Edward Abdy (1896-76), she was born Iya Grigorievna de Gay in St. Petersburg, daughter of George de Gay, and escaped with her family to Finland during the Russian Revolution, before moving to Paris. She married Sir Robert Abdy on 23rd June 1923, but divorced him in 1928. A striking blonde beauty, over six feet tall (Cecil Beaton said she ‘invented size’), Lady Abdy was a leading light of Parisian society of the 1920s and 1930s, a friend of Coco Chanel and Jean Cocteau, and a regular in the salon of the Comtesse de Noailles. She was also something of a style icon, much photographed, amongst others by Man Ray and Cecil Beaton, and for Vogue by George Hoyningen Huene. Vogue, 8th December 1928 features a photograph of Lady Abdy, showing her hands held in front of her corsage or bodice to which is pinned the pylon brooch. The photo-feature is headed “A Jewel Song from Paris: The Wearing of the Gem is an Ancient Art to which the Parisienne Brings Modern Interpretations”. Her fondness for Egyptian revival jewels clearly suited her theatrical tastes: she was known for her fantastic costumes, worn to the celebrated costume balls of the time. In 1928, Vogue showed a photograph of Lady Abdy at the ‘Flora and Fauna of the Sea’ ball, given by the Comte de Beaumont, wearing “a miraculous costume, from Alex, representing sea-mist. From her waist at the back, large balloons rose in a cloud of tulle and floated about her silver cockle-shell head-dress.”

The pin (lot 408), shown in the Illustrated London News advertisement, is composed around a faience figure of the goddess Isis, Ptolemaic; 305-30 BC; the top has been altered, replaced with a square-faceted coral bead. 

The pendant from Lady Abdy’s collection (lot 409) is illustrated in pages from Cartier archives coincidentally on the same page as the fan-shaped brooch offered for sale here, and the second fan-shaped brooch, mentioned above. The rectangular pendant is centered on a faience plaque engraved with three rows of ducks, walking in rows, in graduated size, framed in a richly enameled case, the back enameled with Egyptian favored stripes and zig-zag, pyramidal frieze, and surmounted by a stylized lotus blossom inset with immaculately cut sections of jade, lapis and coral, the jade and lapis conjuring the Egyptian obsession with blue, the coral adding an exuberant Art Deco note of exoticism.

Source - Sotheby’s Blog