Blue Streak
Amber Michelle - Chief Curator & Storyteller

Despite the chilly spring air, the jewelry was hot at the April 2018 Magnificent Jewels auctions at Christie’s and Sotheby’s New York. Blue diamonds continued to be in strong demand, with both houses offering up some fine examples of this very rare diamond color.

Above: A 3.09 carat fancy intense blue diamond was the top lot at Christie’s selling for $5,375,000/Photo courtesy Christie’s
Top: Two-stone ring features a 2.85 carat fancy vivid blue diamond and a 2.42 carat fancy intense pink diamond ring by Cartier. It sold at Christie's for $4,512,500/Photo courtesy Christie's

The sale room at Christie’s Rockefeller Center location was buzzing with activity as the auction got underway. Dealers — who tend to congregate in clusters around the room — were out in force as Christie’s is adjacent to the jewelry district, making it easy to walk over to catch the action.

Bidding was aggressive and most of the lots found new homes in what was a fast-moving sale that slowed down only when competing buyers kept upping the bids for a desired jewel. A 3.09-carat rectangular-cut, fancy intense blue diamond, VS1 clarity, was the top lot of the sale, garnering $5,375,000, or $1,739,500 per carat. It was also the largest of five blue diamonds offered.

The blue diamond was closely followed by the second-place lot — a radiant-cut 8.42-carat, VVS1 fancy intense pink diamond ring — which sold for $5,037,500, or $598,300 per carat. A very fair price for that particular diamond.

“Every major diamond sold and blues did really well,” said Rahul Kadakia, senior vice president and international head of jewelry, Christie’s. “What a way to start the season.”

Lapis lazuli, coral, diamond and gold sautoir necklace by Van Cleef & Arpels/Photo courtesy Christie’s

One of the most exciting — and sought after — pieces in the sale was a Van Cleef & Arpels (VCA) sautoir necklace. This bold necklace of lapis lazuli, coral, gold and diamonds was truly a collectible. It was quintessential 1970s VCA, with lapis and coral links alternating with gold links to create a chain that dangled an oversized medallion of the same materials with diamond accents. Buyers went crazy for it, with several bidders refusing to give up until the winner finally paid $237,500 for the necklace which was estimated at $30,000 to $50,000. The necklace was accompanied by a rendering of the piece and an insurance valuation dated May 15, 1973.

“The sautoir was a very special design. It was very Roman looking and clients were drawn to it,” commented Kadakia.

The 210-lot sale totaled $45,657,125 and was sold 88 percent by lot and 96 percent by value. This compares to the December 2017 sale of 385 lots, which tallied up $62,592,750 and was sold 88 percent by lot and 85 percent by value. The April 2017 sale brought in $35,238,100 for 328 lots.

A 3.47 carat fancy intense blue diamond was the top selling lot, at Sotheby’s selling for $6,663,300. At $1,920,259 it set an auction record price per carat for a fancy intense blue diamond/Photo courtesy Sotheby’s

The next day the action moved to Sotheby’s on the Upper East Side. Only dealers who were serious buyers trekked uptown for this sale, which made for a somewhat quieter saleroom. While there was active bidding in the room, much of the activity took place on the phone and online.

The big news came with the last lot of the sale — a much-anticipated blue diamond. This particular stone belonged to a Midwest family. It had been given by a mother to her daughter. It was worn daily, but the owner didn’t know what she had until one fateful day. She took the ring off and placed it next to the kitchen sink and turned on the garbage disposal. The ring fell into the running disposal. She retrieved the ring, which now had a chip on the end, prompting her to take it to her local jeweler. Her jeweler took a look at the ring and suspected that there was more to the stone than met the eye and suggested that the ring be sent to Sotheby’s. The jewelry specialists at Sotheby’s recognized the stone for what it was – a 3.47-carat, fancy intense, I1 blue diamond. Much to the delight of the family who sold it and to those in the room who knew the story, it sold for $6,663,300, or $1,920,259 per carat, setting an auction record price per carat for a fancy intense blue diamond and making it the top lot of the day.

“The color was highly admired,” said Gary Schuler, chairman, North and South America, International Jewelry Sotheby’s. “It has that soft, powdery hue and even color; it’s a borderline vivid. It is a very well-cut stone. The I1 clarity was based on the chip.”

53.63 carat sapphire and diamond ring by David Webb/Photo courtesy Sotheby’s

Colored gemstones were strong sellers at this sale, including several significant emeralds and a number of sapphires. One of the most glamourous of the sapphires was a 53.63-carat no heat Ceylon sapphire set in a ring by David Webb. Not only did it have a spectacular sapphire, but the diamond-accented foliate setting was a showstopper.

The auction totaled $26,172,550 for 137 lots. The December 2017 sale pulled in $53,935,050 for 211 lots and was sold 82 percent by lot and 79 percent by value. The April 2017 sale of 252 lots made $28,977,875.

“If a piece had a story and was at the right price, it sold,” concluded Schuler. “The overall response to what was special is very strong.”

All prices quoted throughout this blog include buyer’s premium, unless price is an estimate.