Christie’s Geneva: ‘Blue Belle of Asia’ Tops $17M
Most Expensive Sapphire Ever Sold at Auction
The Blue Belle of Asia, a spectacular natural blue sapphire weighing approximately 392.52 carats that’s considered one of the world’s most prestigious colored gems, achieved a record $17,295,796 at Christie’s Geneva auction of Magnificent Jewels on Nov. 11, shattering its pre-auction high estimate of $9,885,471 to become the most valuable sapphire ever to be offered at auction.

The sapphire, of Sri Lankan (formerly Ceylon) origin, shows no indication of heating to enhance its color or clarity, as certified by the Gübelin Gem Lab institute, which also states that the stone “is one of the largest faceted sapphires the Gübelin Gem Lab has seen to date and possesses a combination of outstanding characteristics.”

Fashioned into the cushion shape, the sapphire appears in a round brilliant-cut diamond neckchain, mounted in white gold, suspending a round brilliant-cut diamond-tassel pendant with oval-shaped diamond terminals. It was sold to a private collector.

The second top lot was a pair of diamond ear pendants by Bulgari (below), which sold for $15,820,731 to Laurence Graff, well above their pre-auction high estimate of $15,088,351. The ear pendants feature a combined 14 marquise- and pear-shaped colorless diamonds, ranging from 2.03 carats to 1.05 carats, set in clusters, with one cluster suspending a detachable pear-shaped fancy vivid blue diamond, weighing approximately 6.95 carats, and the other suspending a detachable fancy vivid pink diamond, weighing approximately 6.79 carats, mounted in platinum and white gold.

Rounding out the top three lots was platinum and gold ring featuring a brilliant-cut fancy pink diamond in a kite shape, which sold for $6,109,379 to an anonymous buyer, well above its pre-auction high estimate of $3,537,958. The diamond, weighing approximately 15.62 carats, was determined to be a potentially internally flawless Type IIa stone. Type IIa diamonds are a rare subgroup of diamonds that includes less than 2 percent of the world’s diamond production. Stones in this group are chemically the purest of all diamond crystals and often have extraordinary optical transparency.

Another top lot was an exceptional ruby and diamond ring by Cartier, titled The Queen of Burma, which sold for $5,995,128 to an anonymous buyer. The ruby, of Burmese origin with no indications of heating, weighs approximately 23.66 carats. Cut into the oval shape, the ruby is mounted with four platinum “claws” set with inverted baguette-cut diamonds. According to the SSEF Swiss Gemmological Institute, “The rarity of this ruby ring lies not only in the beauty, quality and Burmese origin of the ruby, but certainly also in the historic provenance of this jewelry item. This makes The Queen of Burma ruby ring a very exceptional treasure.”

The fifth top lot was an important platinum and diamond necklace, which sold for $5,652,374 to the Middle Eastern Trade, well above its pre-auction high estimate of $4,994,764. The necklace is composed of a line of pear-shaped and round brilliant-cut diamonds suspending a fringe of vari-cut diamond clusters with pear-shaped diamond terminals, the largest of which is detachable and weighs approximately 20.20 carats. The diamond is also a Type IIa stone with D color and internally flawless clarity.

Other diamond necklaces that fared well include an Art Deco platinum, natural-pearl and diamond necklace, which sold for $5,195,369 to the Middle Eastern Trade, shattering its pre-auction high estimate of $988,547. Of Indian inspiration, the necklace is composed of two rows of pear-shaped and old-cut diamond links, suspending at the front two natural-pearl pendants, measuring approximately 16.0 mm X 15.9 mm and 16.3 mm X 15.8 mm. The other necklace features five cushion-shaped yellow diamonds, weighing approximately 53.09, 35.58, 34.13, 17.25 and 17.17 carats, each mounted in yellow gold in a round brilliant-cut diamond surround, connected to a flower-head link neckchain. The impressive piece sold for $4,167,109 to the international trade, well above its pre-auction high estimate of $3,485,929.

Another top-selling colored diamond was the central piece in a stunning necklace that suspends a very light-pink pear-shaped diamond weighing approximately 40.48 carats, and two round brilliant-cut diamond connections, weighing approximately 3.77 carats and 3.51 carats, from a graduated line of round brilliant-cut diamonds, mounted in platinum and gold. The light-pink diamond is a Type IIa stone with potentially internally flawless clarity. The necklace sold for $3,652,978 to the Middle Eastern Trade.

Rounding out the top 10 lots was a gold, diamond and green garnet Parrot Tulip bangle by JAR, which shattered its pre-auction high estimate of $301,767 by selling for $3,595,853 to an anonymous buyer. Designed as a sculpted gold flower, two petals at the base form a hinged cuff and are enhanced with single-cut diamonds and circular-cut green garnets. Last, a pair of exceptional natural-pearl and diamond ear pendants by Harry Winston sold for $3,481,601 to an anonymous buyer, above their pre-auction high estimate of $3,433,900. The top of each earring centers on a round brilliant-cut diamond, totaling approximately 3.04 carats and 3.03 carats, respectively, in a marquise-shaped diamond cluster, suspending a detachable natural drop-shaped pearl, weighing approximately 104.31 grains and 101.57 grains, respectively, with a diamond-set cap, mounted in platinum and white gold.

Rahul Kadakia, International Head of Christie’s Jewelry said in response to the sale: “We are extremely proud that the Blue Belle of Asia established a new world record for any sapphire sold at auction for $17,295,796. The private collector is now the new owner of the most valuable sapphire in the world. The JAR Parrot Tulip bangle bracelet realized $3,595,853 and established the second highest price for a creation by JAR. Jewels from major collections also realized exceptional prices such as the Art Deco natural-pearl and diamond necklace from the private collection of the Baroness Edouard de Rohschild, which sold for $5,195,369.”

Christie’s Geneva sale of Magnificent Jewels achieved a total of $185,011,232, the highest total since the first Christie’s auction in Geneva in 1969. The auction sold 89 percent by lot and 94 percent by value. Overall, 346 of the 388 lots offered were sold, and 54 percent of the lots sold above their pre-sale estimate.
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