His­toric gems to star at Geneva jewel auc­tions

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

Rus­sian di­a­monds that re­put­edly helped bro­ker peace be­tween war­ring em­pires three cen­turies ago will go to the high­est bidder at the Geneva jewel auc­tions this week. The Swiss city’s twice-an­nual sales of rare jewels are of­ten dom­i­nated by stones the size of door-stop­pers. But this week, gems en­riched by the weight of his­tory will share cen­tre-stage with those val­ued by their weight in carats. Christie’s be­gan the auc­tion sea­son yes­ter­day at the lux­ury Four Sea­sons Ho­tel des Ber­gues on Lake Geneva, where a line of Bent­leys or Porsches typ­i­cally builds in the runup to the au­tumn sale.

Ri­val Sotheby’s takes its turn to­day across the road at the five-star Ho­tel Beau Ri­vage. Among Sotheby’s show­case of­fers is a parure fea­tur­ing di­a­monds once owned by Rus­sian em­press Cather­ine I that were given to her by her hus­band, Czar Peter the Great, who led Rus­sia un­til his death in 1725. In 1711, Cather­ine was wor­ried that a rag­ing con­flict with the Ot­toman Em­pire posed an ex­is­ten­tial threat to Rus­sia and or­dered her hus­band-in the mid­dle of the night-to draft a peace treaty, Sotheby’s said, cit­ing his­tor­i­cal records.

With­out telling Peter, Cather­ine sent the peace pro­posal and all the jewels she was trav­el­ling with to the Ot­toman Sultan Ahmed III. The Sultan “ac­cepted th­ese and was ob­vi­ously de­lighted, and the truce was given and the (Rus­sian) em­pire was saved”, David Ben­nett, head of Sotheby’s In­ter­na­tional Jewelry Di­vi­sion, told AFP. The parure fea­tur­ing Cather­ine’s di­a­monds is ex­pected to sell for be­tween $3 mil­lion (2.8 mil­lion eu­ros) and $5 mil­lion. In an auc­tion heavy on Rus­sian im­pe­rial trea­sures, Sotheby’s is also of­fer­ing a di­a­mond neck­lace with a de­tach­able clasp owned by Em­press Cather­ine II-Cather­ine the Great, who ruled Rus­sia from 1762 to 1796. It is sim­i­larly val­ued at up to $5 mil­lion.

$30 mil­lion bling?

Tues­day’s top seller will al­most cer­tainly be a set of ear­ings made of two flaw­less white di­a­monds weigh­ing 52.55 carats and 50.47 carats, val­ued by Christie’s at $20 mil­lion-$30 mil­lion for the pair. To­bias Kor­mind, head of the 77 Di­a­monds firm that tracks the global di­a­mond mar­ket, said elite col­lec­tors of rare gems are typ­i­cally more at­tracted to loose stones and may shy away from the ear­ings. “Th­ese ear­rings are far more likely to be a gift for some­one to wear for spe­cial oc­ca­sions,” he said, not­ing that the list of peo­ple in­ter­ested in so­cial­is­ing with more than 100 carats worth of di­a­monds on their ears is lim­ited.

“The buyer is highly likely to be a newly minted Rus­sian or Chi­nese bil­lion­aire oli­garch or busi­ness ty­coon, who does not shy from flaunt­ing their wealth,” Kor­mind said. While in­ter­est in the white di­a­mond earn­ings may prove strong, they are un­likely to ap­proach the eye-pop­ping records set by coloured stones at re­cent sales. Christie’s set the cur­rent mark in May, sell­ing the 14.62-carat “Op­pen­heimer Blue” for $57.54 mil­lion.

That beat a record set a year ago by Sotheby’s, when Hong Kong bil­lion­aire Joseph Lau’s bought the 12.03carat “Blue Moon of Josephine” for $48.4 mil­lion. Christie’s is aim­ing to cap­i­tal­ize on the still-solid coloured stones mar­ket with a 9.14-carat Fancy Vivid Pink es­ti­mated at $16-$18 mil­lion. The rare “Fancy Vivid” clas­si­fi­ca­tion is awarded by the Ge­mo­log­i­cal In­sti­tute of Amer­ica to sig­nify a stone’s ex­cep­tional color and clar­ity. Sotheby’s top coloured gem go­ing un­der the ham­mer this week is the 8.01-carat “Sky Blue Di­a­mond”, with a pre-auc­tion es­ti­mated price of $15$25 mil­lion. Sotheby’s has es­ti­mated its 342-lot auc­tion at a to­tal of $100 mil­lion. Christie’s is of­fer­ing 220 lots, with an es­ti­mated value of $80 mil­lion.

File photo shows a model presents the ‘The Sky Blue Di­a­mond,’ a fancy, vivid blue di­a­mond ring cre­ated by Cartier, dur­ing a press pre­view by Sotheby’s Auc­tion House.

AFP photos

File photo shows a model poses with a di­a­mond neck­lace with a stun­ning and del­i­cate bowknot clasp dur­ing a press pre­view by Sotheby’s auc­tion house on Novem­ber 9, 2016 in Geneva.—

File photo shows a model poses with a parure of an­tique coloured di­a­mond jewels dur­ing a press pre­view by Sotheby’s auc­tion house in Geneva.

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