Collecting jewelry, diamonds: Auction results

Bonhams, London, 09-19-2012: An Art Deco Diamond and Ruby Bracelet, circa 1935

Elyse Zorn Karlin
Bonhams Auction Art Deco Diamond and Ruby Bracelet
An Art Deco Diamond And Ruby Bracelet, Circa 1935

Designed as a series of articulated geometric plaques, with pierced and openwork detail, set throughout with brilliant and single-cut diamonds and calibré-cut rubies, diamonds approximately 4.45 carats total, one ruby deficient, length 16.4 cm

£4,000 – 6,000
US$ 6,300 – 9,500

This is a very nicely designed of the period Art Deco bracelet.

Endless variations of Art Deco bracelets were designed and were extremely popular in their time and still are with collectors today. Often designed with contrasting colors as in this bracelet with ruby accents gracefully interspersed with diamonds, diamonds being the most popular gemstone of this style period. Lapidaries of this time were producing a wide assortment of geometric gem cuts including baguettes, emerald-cuts, triangles and shields Earlier Art Deco bracelets featured more color while later were often completely white…this example falls somewhere in between.

Art Deco jewelry holds its value well and continues to appreciate. Especially when it is well made with good design. This is reasonably priced because they maker’s name is not known but that does not effect its elegance.

Bonhams, London, 09-19-2012: An Emerald Ring by Grima

Elyse Zorn Karlin
Bonhams Auction Emerald Ring by Grima
An Emerald Ring, by Grima

The rectangular step-cut emerald collet-set within a raised surround, to a square mount of engraved decoration, signed Grima, ring size O½.

Estimate: £6,000 – 8,000 US$ 9,500 – 13,000

Jewelry by Anglo-Italian jeweler Andrew Grima (1921-2007) is highly coveted by collectors. This ring is accompanied by a certificate from Deutsche Stiftung Edelsteinforschung DSEF stating that the emerald is natural, of Zambian origin. Certificate dated 21st November 2008.

Grima is considered the creator of modern British Royal jewelry. He became the foremost modern jewelry designer in the West End of London in the 1960s and 1970s, selling designs from his exclusive gallery in Jermyn Street, Mayfair. He also designed watches for Omega.

His clients included members of the British royal family, with one of the notable pieces being Queen Elizabeth II’s ruby brooch, and he also made a brooch of lichen cast in gold for Princess Margaret. Jacqueline Kennedy was also a client. There are several other jewels by Grima in this sale.

Grima jewels continue to sell well at auction. An auction of a number of his jewels in Bonhams New York sale in 2010 brought excellent prices for examples of his work.

Bonhams, London, 09-19-2012: A gold and micromosaic hinged bangle, circa 1870

Elyse Zorn Karlin

£8,000 – 10,000
US$ 13,000 – 16,000

The wide gold bangle of intricate wire-work and beaded decoration with a micromosaic plaque on the front which depicts Apollo driving the Carriage of the Sun surrounded by the Hours and preceded by Aurora. On the reverse the word ‘ROMA’ is shown in applied wire-work..This micro-mosaic plaque is a after a fresco painted by Guido Reni, circa 1612, at the Palazzo Pallavicini Rospigliosi in Rome.

Micromosiac work if among the finest examples of 19th century archaeological revival jewelry. Based on ancient Roman mosaics, the designs are formed with tiny tesserae of glass and are highly sought out by collectors. They were purchased when people did the “Grand Tour” of Europe and stopped at the fine jewelry houses in Italy. Later several of the important houses opened shops in London where this jewelry became “all the rage”.

Micromosaic jewelry is still very popular with collectors even as other Victorian jewelry has become less so. The delicacy of the work is appealing and this particular design is unusual and arresting.

Bonhams A gold and micromosaic hinged bangle
A Gold and Micromosaic Hinged Bangle, Circa 1870, Inner Diameter 5.2cm, Fitted Case by Cav.L.AGallandt.

Bonhams, London, 09-19-2012: A Diamond, Pearl Cuff Bracelet

Elyse Zorn Karlin

The wide hinged cuff issuing a spray of brilliant-cut diamonds, highlighted with 10.2mm-12.2mm grey cultured pearls, diamonds approximately 2.45 carats total, inner diameter 5.3cm

Bonhams Auction Pearl Cuff
A Cultured Pearl and Diamond Cuff Bracelet


£7,000 – 9,000

US$ 11,000 – 14,000

This unusual and whimsical bracelet is sure to attract attention when worn. It must certainly be a one of a kind bracelet although no maker’s marks are indicated. This bracelet bridges the worlds of fine jewelry and art jewelry and will “speak” about the lucky person who wears it. The only caveat is that it probably be should be tried on before purchasing as it is difficult to tell how comfortable it would be without wearing it.

NOTE: no information was given on which metal was used.

Bonhams, London, 09-19-2012: “The Leinster Brooch”, early 19th century

Elyse Zorn Karlin

BP: $4,000-6,000
US: $6,300-9,500

Stylised openwork bow, collet-set throughout with cushion-shaped diamonds, mounted in silver and gold, diamonds approximately 7.90 carats total, later detachable brooch fitting, length 5.3cm, cased by Phillips Bros & Son, 23 Cockspur St, London

Bonhams Auction Diamond Leinster Brooch
An Early 19th Century Diamond Bow Brooch, Known as ‘The Leinster Brooch’

This is a lovely example of a 19th century diamond bow brooch made all the more valuable due to its provenance. Given by the Duke of Leinster (1749-1804) to his daughter, Lady Isabella Charlotte. It is known within the family as The Leinster Brooch. It was also worn by a family member at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 at Westminster Abbey.

The bow brooch would be worn at the bosom and is a design that continued into the 20th century and beyond. Bow brooches always have good re-sale value at auction and are considered desirable by collectors. The nature of the design transcends the period in which it was made and makes it very wearable and impressive. A daring fashionista might even wear it in her hair for a special event.

Sotheby’s, NY, 09-20-2012: Art Deco Platinum and Diamond Brooch, Van Cleef & Arpels, France, Circa 1928

Christine Webb

Estimate: 18,000 - 22,000 USD

Centered by a round diamond weighing approximately .95 carat, further set with smaller round diamonds weighing approximately 10.00 carats, signed Van Cleef&Arpels, numbered 30477, with French assay and workshop marks.

Sothebys Art Deco Platinum Diamond Brooch
Platinum and Diamond Brooch, Van Cleef&Arpels, France, Circa 1928

Art Deco - my favorite era! This is a superb example of the type of jewelry being created by Van Cleef&Arpels during this time. The Art Deco period (1920-1935) produced dazzling jewelry that was dramatically different from the jewelry of the previous eras.

From the soft colors and flowing lines of the Art Nouveau and Edwardian eras to bold bright colors and straight lines that made these statement pieces.Geometric cuts for gems complimented the symmetry and streamlined look of Art Deco jewelry. It was a wonderful time of change - making things fresh and modern - not just jewelry, but architecture, cars and clothing.

Today, Art Deco jewelry is some of the most sought after and collected, commanding the highest prices in jewelry stores and auction houses - and retaining its value. Van Cleef&Arpel, French, 1928 - need I say more! (see lots 122,123,294,295,296,355,356 for more Deco pieces)

Sotheby’s, NY, 09-20-2012: 18 Karat Gold, Platinum and Diamond Ring, Mounted by Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co.

Christine Webb
Sotheby’s Auction Gold, Platinum and Diamond Ring
18 Karat Gold, Platinum and Diamond Ring, Mounted by Schlumberger For Tiffany & Co.

Estimate: 22,000 - 28,000 USD
Centered by a square emerald-cut diamond weighing 3.92 carats, accented by numerous round diamonds weighing approximately .50 carat, size 6½, signed Tiffany & Co., Schlumberger Mtg. With signed box.

I love Schlumberger. I believe Jean Schlumberger was Tiffany's finest designer. His designs continue to be produced and sold today. Diamonds are always in demand, but this ring is special because of the Ascher cut diamond that is E in color and SI-1 in clarity (GIA cert). The mounting is identifiably Schlumberger with the "X" designin a ribbon-like motif that many designers have copied.

It is a classic design but unusual enough to make it special. At almost 4cts with a color grade of E, it surely is gorgeous and sophisticated. Schlumberger was known for his whimsical interpretations of natural forms, many times inspired by the sea (see item 43) as well as animals and flowers. His pieces are truly art jewels and many were one-of-a-kind. Schlumberger's jewels were collected by the rich and famous: the Duchess of Windsor, Greta Garbo, Gloria Vanderbilt, and Elizabeth Taylor, to name a few.

Sotheby’s, NY, 09-20-2012: Platinum, 18 Karat Gold, Spinel and Diamond Ring

Christine Webb
Platinum, 18 Karat Gold, Spinel and Diamond Ring
Platinum, 18 Karat Gold, Spinel and Diamond Ring

Estimate: 12,000 – 15,000 USD

Centered by an octagonal step-cut red spinel weighing 10.14 carats, flanked by half-moon-shaped diamonds weighing approximately 1.25 carats, size 5.

OK – red spinel – one of my favorite gems. This red spinel is Burmese in origin (GRS report) and is over 10 carats. Burmese spinels are considered the finest and are very rare. Important red spinels have always been highly sought after and collected, but even more so today as we see the prices for the red and pink spinels coming out of Tanzania.

Burmese red spinels were often confused with fine rubies – the 170ct Black Prince Ruby in the British Imperial Crown is actually a red spinel. Both the historical confusion with ruby as well as the confusion of natural spinel with synthetic spinel (seen in high school and college class rings) has affected its popularity and reputation.

However, this seems to be changing as the prices for fine pink and red spinels has skyrocketed. Of course it is hard to judge the quality of the color from this image. But if this spinel is a medium intense red with a hint of pink, it should be gorgeous. I also love the square step cut which is unusual.

Sotheby’s, NY, 09-20-2012: 18 kt. Gold, Fire Opal and Diamond Ring, Sifen Chang

Christine Webb
18 Karat Blackened Gold, Fire Opal and Diamond Ring
18 Karat Blackened Gold, Fire Opal and Diamond Ring, Sifen Chang

Estimate: 18,000 - 22,000 USD

Centered by a fire opal weighing 16.35 carats, framed by flowers set with round diamonds weighing 3.12 carats, size 6, signed with Chinese characters for Sifen Chang. With signed box.

This ring just caught my eye. I love opals and this ring features a beautiful fire opal. Fire opals are typically transparent with a red, orange or yellow body color that just glows from within – hence the name “fire opal.” Sometimes fire opal can have play-of-color, but it is difficult to tell from this image if this gem displays the phenomenon.

Most opals are cut as cabochons or polished free-form, as seen in this ring. I love the diamond encrusted flowers that surround the opal and the use of blackened gold (perhaps black rhodium plating).

The designer, Sifen Chang, is known for her one-of-a-kind art jewels that are elegant and classic. I’ve read that she is the first living artist whose pieces are featured in the Important Jewelry auctions at Sotheby’s New York, and since 2000, Sotheby’s has auctioned more than 100 of her pieces. If this opal has play-of-color, it will be even more spectacular as well as more valuable!

Sotheby’s, NY, 09-20-2012: Moonstone Pendant-Earrings

Christine Webb
Moonstone Gemstone Sotheby Auction
Pair of Platinum, Moonstone and Diamond Pendant-Earrings

Estimate: 20,000 – 30,000 USD

The tops centered by two round cabochon moonstones, suspending clusters of 30 pear-shaped cabochon moonstones, accented by numerous round diamonds weighing approximately 2.70 carats.

There is just something special about fine quality moonstone. These earrings are exceptional in design and the gems appear to have the blue adularescence of the highly prized and most popular of the feldspar gems. Moonstones have a glow with this soft bluish sheen that floats throughout the stone. High clarity gems that are clear or translucent exhibiting this blue adularescence are the most valuable.

As seen here they are cut en cabochon to best show this optical phenomenon. Moonstones have long been considered sacred gems in India and are very popular and fashionable in jewelry today. Most fine quality moonstones are from Sri Lanka, India and Burma, but the origin information is not available for these earrings. It doesn’t matter – they are just simply stunning!

Bid on the pendants on this Sotheby’s auction page.

Sotheby’s, NY, 09-20-2012: Platinum, Sapphire and Diamond Ring

Christine Webb
Platinum, Sapphire and Diamond ring
Platinum, Sapphire and Diamond ring


Platinum, Sapphire and Diamond Ring

Estimate: 350,000 – 450,000 USD

Centered by a cushion-shaped sapphire weighing 13.22 carats, flanked by two triangular diamonds weighing approximately 1.80 carats, size 2¼.

This sapphire has the pedigree! Kashmir origin with no heat treatment (both Gubelin and AGL reports). Just as connoisseurs treasure Columbian emeralds and Burmese rubies, Kashmir sapphires are extremely rare and highly sought after and collected. Sapphires from Sri Lank and Burma historically were considered the best, however, from the 1880s to the early 1920s a small area in the Indian state of Kashmir produced gems that were a medium rich velvety blue color, described as cornflower blue.

Then and today, Kashmir sapphires are regarded as the finest blue sapphires. An untreated natural sapphire is rare and highly collectable. Then add Kashmir as the origin – it should command top dollar and retain its value. This of course depends on the color and how the sapphire looks in person – very difficult to judge from an image.

Bid on the ring at Sotheby’s here.

Bonhams, London, 09-19-2012: Diamond “Stomacher”, early 18th century

Elyse Zorn Karlin

£ 6,000 - 8,000
US$ 9,500 - 13,000

Set to the centre with a highly stylised cushion-shaped, old brilliant and single-cut diamond anthemion motif, circa 1820, within a late 18th century radiating border of rose-cut diamonds, mounted in silver and gold, rose-cut diamonds in closed-back settings, old brilliant-cut diamonds approximately 3.80cts total, central anthemion motif has been converted to a separate brooch, border detaches to form four separate brooches, length 10.9cm

Stomacher Diamond
A Diamond Stomacher, Last Quarter of the 18th Century and Later

This Georgian period jewel is significant for its place in jewelry history and is desirable for that reason as well as for its provenance. Family lore says that it was given to Lady Katherine Manners (d. 1829) by her mother the Duchess of Rutland (1756-1831) as a wedding gift in 1800 when she married Cecil Walk Forester, 1st Baron Forester (1767-1828). It descended through the family to its present owner.

This form of large ornament , known as a stomacher, was the perfect accessory to fit into the front section of a woman's gown which formed a v-shaped between the neck and waist and was also known as a stomacher. It could be sewn onto the bodice of a dress. In the 19th century this type of jewel continued to be worn in brooch form.

This is a somewhat specialized piece for a serious collector but valuable because they do not come on the market frequently. They are primarily European in design and one would be hard to find at auction in the United States or in Asia.

Cartier Pearl Necklace Drops 25 % in Value

A Cartier pearl necklace bought in 1922 for US$ 825,000 (€567,000) was sold for $600,000 at Bonhams in New York in December 2008.


The necklace had a phenomenal pedigree: 224 natural pearls assembled by Cartier and possibly owned by the Empress of Russia: Catherine the Great.

Historic Valuation of Pearls Higher

A spokesperson for Bonhams stated:
In the early part of the 20th century, pearls were seen as the most precious of commodities. They commanded astronomical prices as new-money businessmen tried to outdo one another by buying the most extravagant pearls they could find for the women in their lives,” said Bonhams.
“Pearls were more valuable than diamonds and the market was hugely overheated, so much so that in 1917 Cartier acquired premises on New York’s 5th Avenue in exchange for a double strand of pearls!”

Cartier Pearl Necklace
Cartier Necklace Possibly Owned By Empress Catherine The Great

Current Valuation of Pearls Lower

Bonhams continued:
A spokeswoman for Bonhams said since the 1920’s pearls have become commoditised through the introduction of cultured pearls extensively used by Japanese producers. This means that rather than waiting decades for an oyster to produce a natural pearl, whole farms of oysters are induced to create pearls within a couple of years. The spokeswoman for Bonhams said it is unlikely that pearls will ever regain the lustre of the 1920s, because so few buyers recognise the value of natural pearls compared to cultured ones.”

Lessons Learnt for Diamond and Gemstone Investments

Diamonds or gemstones can be presented as a great investment opportunity but great care has to be taken in understanding what determines current price levels: emotion, styles, tastes&trends or new gemstone discoveries or scandals because of new treatments can change the market dramatically and permanently.

More information from Bonhams on the necklace

The necklace, which comprises 224 pearls and two Cartier diamond clasps, was bought from The House of Cartier in the 1920s by the founder of Dodge Automobiles, Michigan-born Horace E. Dodge, for his Scottish wife Anna Thomson Dodge. He bought them in the belief they had once belonged to Catherine the Great of Russia and many newspaper articles reported this at the time. A Cartier sales invoice to Horace E. Dodge, Esq, dated 24 May 1920, states that the necklace was accompanied by an “enamel clasp representing Catherine, Empress of Russia” and “two (2) diamond alternate clasps”.