Extravagance – Each one of Christie’s major sales regions orchestrated auctions of some of the most significant diamonds in the global auction market.
As part of its year-end figures announcement, Christie’s recently reported a record-breaking result for global jewellery sales in 2013, with US$678.3 million ($AU779.30 million) – the highest annual result ever achieved for jewellery in the auction house. The tally represents an 18% increase over Christie’s 2012 total, and beats its previous highest annual record of US$600 million, set in 2011, which included The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor – the most valuable sale of jewellery in auction history. Upon executing the sale of The Winston Legacy in May and The Orange in November, Christie’s Geneva led the company’s jewellery sales with US$228.4 million total.
Each one of Christie’s major sales regions orchestrated auctions of some of the most significant diamonds in the global auction market, holding six of the year’s top ten jewels sold at auction in 2013. Over 120 jewels sold in excess of US$1 million, fourteen lots sold above US$5 million, and five above US$10 million. Coloured and colourless diamonds, natural pearls, distinguished private collections, and three successful online-only jewellery auctions all contributed to this leap in Christie’s results. With many new buyers in Europe, the US and Asia actively participating at a high level, competition has become more intense than ever for rare jewels and gems of only the highest quality.
François Curiel, International Head of Jewelry and President of Christie’s Asia, notes: “In 1994, Christie’s worldwide jewellery sales totaled US$190 million, with Geneva, London, and New York as our most important centres, where top-quality gemstones traded at US$80,000 per carat. In November 2013, at Christie’s Geneva, we sold The Orange for a world record price of US$35.5 million at US$2.4 million per carat and achieved US$125.3 million in one sale. Last year, the prices achieved and the records set soared above all previous records and raised the jewellery auction market to an entirely new level. The top ten jewels sold at Christie’s demonstrate jewelry as art – gemstones of such quality they will perhaps only be seen once in a lifetime.”
The 16 April sale of Magnificent Jewels at Christie’s New York flagship Rockefeller Center saleroom led the year in coloured diamonds with the historic sale of The Princie Diamond. The cushion-cut Fancy Intense Pink Golconda diamond of 34.65 carats achieved a price of US$39,323,750 (US$1.1 million per carat) – establishing a new world auction record for a Golconda diamond and as the most expensive diamond every sold at Christie’s and in the United States. Christie’s Geneva began their spring auction season with an exceedingly rare 1.92 carat rectangular-cut Fancy Red, VS2 diamond fetching US$3,252,675 million (US$ 1.6 million per carat) and setting a new world auction record for a red diamond. The Orange, a pearshaped Fancy Vivid Orange diamond of 14.82 carats, was the superb finale to
the Geneva jewelry auction season realizing US$35,540,612 (US$2.4 million per carat) and establishing a new world auction record an orange diamond. Similarly, in Hong Kong, a Fancy Vivid Orangy Pink, VVS1 diamond of 12.85 carats achieved US$4,951,285 (US$385,000 per carat) and setting a new world auction record for an orange-pink diamond in the November auction.
From start to finish, 2013 saw exceptional results achieved for colourless diamonds at Christie’s. A rare treat occurred in the May auction at Christie’s Geneva when Harry Winston acquired the highlight of the sale: a pearshaped D-colour Flawless diamond of 101.73 carats, named The Winston Legacy, which sold for US$26,737,913 (US$254,400 per carat). In Hong Kong, after their 28 May auction of Magnificent Jewels, Ms. Tiffany Chen, vice chairman of China Star Entertainment Limited, named the star lot of the auction The Star of China. The D-colour Internally Flawless Briolette diamond of 75.36 carats fetched a price of US$11,151,245 (US$148,000 per carat) and set a new world auction record for a briolette diamond. Lastly, on December 10 in New York, a rectangular-cut D-colour Internally Flawless Golconda diamond of 52.58 carats realised US$10,917,000 (US$207,600 per carat).
The rarity, quality, and provenance of the natural pearls offered at Christie’s in 2013 led to feverish bidding from private collectors and trade clients from all over the world. In Geneva, a single-strand natural pearl necklace, measuring from 13.7 to 10.4 mm, realised US$8,457,945 (estimate: US$2,000,000 – 3,000,000) and set a new world auction record for a single strand natural pearl necklace. In addition, in Hong Kong, a pair of natural pearl and diamond ear pendants achieved US$3,354,431 and established a new world auction record for a pair of natural pearl and diamond ear pendants.
In total, Christie’s achieved two of the top three prices for jewels at auction in 2013. Private sales were also an important factor in Christie’s success in 2013 – a trend that is expected to continue in the New Year. This facility, led by International Director Julien-Vincent Brunie, is tailored to clients who prefer to buy or sell outside the fixed auction calendar, and to those seeking the rarest of gemstones and jewels. Christie’s hosts 24 jewelry auctions a year in Geneva, Hong Kong, London, New York, and Paris.