Christie’s New York: Pearl Necklace Tops $5M
Most Expensive Ever Sold at Auction
A superb colored diamond ring was the top lot at Christie’s New York sale of Magnificent Jewels on April 14, followed by a magnificent natural colored pearl necklace, which set a world auction record price at $5,093,000.

The ring, which sold to the U.S. trade for $5,765,000, above is pre-auction high estimate of $5 million, features a cut-cornered rectangular-cut fancy intense purplish-pink diamond weighing approximately 5.29 carats, flanked on each side by a half-moon-cut diamond, mounted in platinum. The diamond, of natural color and VS2 clarity, was determined to be a Type IIa diamond, 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.

The pearl necklace features four strands of 289 natural saltwater pearls, measuring approximately 4.90 mm–12.65 mm, that are well-matched with highly attractive rosé, green and purple overtones and superb luster. They are joined by a clasp featuring a 3.03-carat cushion-shaped diamond with D color and IF clarity set within an old European-cut diamond surround, mounted in silver-topped gold. The necklace sold to a private Asian buyer for $593,000 over its pre-auction high estimate.

According to Daphne Lingon, senior specialist of the jewelry division at Christie’s New York, black pearls have been admired throughout history for their mysterious luster and rarity. In the second half of the 19th century, black pearls began to grow in popularity, largely due to Empress Eugénie, wife of Napoléan III, who developed a taste for the exotic gem. In 1872, her black pearl necklace sold for £4,000 at Christie’s, which was an unprecedented sum at the time. Very few black and gray pearl necklaces have been offered for sale in the past 50 years, the most famous being The Nina Dyer Black Pearl Necklace, first sold at Christie’s Geneva in May 1969, and then again in 1997 when it sold for $913,000, and the Cowdray Pearls, which sold at Christie’s London in June 2012 for $3.3 million.

Rounding out the top three lots was a platinum and diamond pendant by Graff featuring a pear-shaped Type IIa diamond weighing approximately 25.49 carats with D color and potentially internally flawless clarity, which sold for $3,413,000 to the international trade.

Another diamond jewel by Graff was the sixth top lot, featuring a cushion-shaped Type IIa diamond weighing approximately 11.13 carats with D color and potentially internally flawless clarity, flanked on each side by a half-moon-cut diamond, mounted in platinum. It sold for $1,325,000 to a private buyer, $325,000 above its pre-auction high estimate.

Other notable lots included two colored diamonds. One, a circular-cut fancy gray-blue diamond weighing approximately 5.04 carats with natural color and VS1 clarity, mounted in an 18-karat rose gold ring, which sold for $2,285,000 to the U.S. trade. The other was an oval-shaped fancy purplish-pink diamond weighing approximately 6.57 carats with natural color and SI1 clarity, flanked on each side by a tapered baguette-cut diamond, mounted in platinum, which sold for $1,205,000 to the U.S. trade.

Another important pearl necklace also made the top 10, selling for $1,049,000 to the U.S. trade, well above its pre-auction high estimate of $600,000. The necklace was designed as a graduated strand of 46 natural white pearls, measuring approximately 6.95 mm–11.90 mm, joined by a marquise-shaped diamond clasp, mounted in platinum.

Colored stones also made a showing, with a 9.4-carat natural Burmese ruby taking the fifth top lot, selling for $2,165,000 to the European trade, well above its pre-auction high estimate of $1 million. The cushion-shaped ruby is mounted in a platinum ring and flanked on each side by a tapered baguette-cut diamond.

A pair of spectacular emerald, diamond and colored diamond ear clips by JAR sold for $845,000 to an anonymous buyer, well above their pre-auction high estimate of $350,000. One earring is designed as a shield, centered with a cushion-shaped diamond weighing approximately 8.50 carats surrounded by pavé-set emeralds and black diamonds. The other earring, also designed as a shield, features a cushion-shaped emerald center weighing approximately 11.24 carats surrounded by pavé-set colorless and black diamonds. Both earrings mount the stones in 18-karat gold and silver.

The 10th top lot was a pair of impressive diamond ear pendants, which sold for $809,000 to the international trade. Each earring suspends a cushion-shaped diamond weighing approximately 10.82 and 10.42 carats, from a graduated trapeze-cut diamond line, to the circular-cut diamond French wire, mounted in platinum.

Christie’s New York sale of Magnificent Jewels achieved a total of $41,951,125, selling 77 percent by lot and 77 percent by value. Overall, 238 of the 310 lots offered were sold.
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