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Sotheby's Geneva Sale of Magnificent & Noble Jewels Sets a World Auction Record for a Tiara
A magnificent and extremely rare emerald and diamond tiara, circa 1900, formerly in the Collection of Princess Katharina Henckel von Donnersmarck sold for CHF 11,282,500 / $12,736,927 (Est. CHF 4.6-9.2 million/$5-10 million). Photo: Sotheby's.

GENEVA.- This evening Sotheby’s Geneva sold the most important emerald and diamond tiara to have appeared at auction in over 30 years for CHF 11,282,500 /$12,736,927, the highest price ever achieved for a tiara at auction. Six bidders competed for the magnificent and extremely rare emerald and diamond tiara, circa 1900, which was formerly in the Collection of Princess Katharina Henckel von Donnersmarck (est. CHF 4.6-9.2 million/$5-10 million [lot 443]); the price it fetched also represented an auction record for a piece of emerald jewellery. The total for the entire sale of Magnificent and Noble Jewels was CHF 78,944,900/$89,121,687 (est. CHF 41.9 - 69 million / $ 47.3 – 77.9 million).

Commenting on this evening’s sale, David Bennett, Chairman of Sotheby’s Jewellery Department for Europe and the Middle East, said: “Sotheby’s was honoured to be able to offer perhaps the grandest piece of jewellery to come to sale in over 30 years and the market responded with enthusiasm. This evening’s results, across the board -- in Noble Jewels, diamonds, coloured gemstones, and pieces signed by the world’s greatest jewelers – show the extraordinary appetite among connoisseurs for rarity, quality and provenance.”

International jewellers Leviev outbid four underbidders to purchase a superb fancy
intense pink diamond, weighing 10.99 carats, for CHF 9,602,500/$10,840,358,
the third highest price for a pink diamond (the ninth highest price for a diamond at
auction). Pink diamonds have been prized for their rarity and spectacular beauty
ever since they were first discovered in the mines of India centuries ago. This superb
stone, mounted as a ring, has been graded “fancy intense pink”, natural colour and VS1 clarity by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). It has been further assessed to be part of a very rare subgroup of diamonds known as type IIa and comprising less than 2% of all of the world’s gem diamonds. Estimated at CHF 8.3-14.8 million ($9-16 million [lot 491]), this stone was offered for sale from a private collection and has not appeared on the market for more than 30 years.

The total Sotheby’s achieved for Noble Jewels, including the tiara, was CHF 19,618,300/$ 22,147,295 (against pre-sale estimates of CHF 7,282,000-13,203,500/$8,220,723 - 14,905,563).

Among other highlights of the Noble Jewels section were jewels from the Collection of the Excelentísima Sra. Condesa vda. de Romanones, a Grande de España who was recruited to become an OSS agent in Madrid during World War II before marrying Don Luis de Figueroa y Perez de Guzmán el Bueno, Count of Quintanilla in 1947. From the Countess of Romanones collection was an emerald and diamond demi-parure from the 1960s, which was competed for by six bidders and sold for CHF 362,500/$409,230 (lot 407, est. CHF 100,000-150,000/$103,000-147,000), a ruby and diamond necklace/brooch combination from the 1970s, which sold for CHF 170,500/$192,479 (lot 409, est. CHF 80,000-150,000/ $81,500-147,000) and a pair of ruby and diamond pendent earrings, 1950s, which sold for CHF 17,500/$19,756 (lot 410, est. CHF 14,000–18,000/ $15,000-20,000).

Testament to the Countess’ close relationship to the Duke and the Duchess of Windsor was an important “Cadenas” diamond bracelet/watch, gifted to the Countess by the Duchess herself. Dating circa 1936, this exquisite piece signed Van Cleef & Arpels, which sold for five times the high estimate to fetch CHF 362,500/$409,230 (lot 411, est. CHF 46,000-63,000/ $49,900-68,500).

White diamonds
Among a group of exceptional white diamonds which are D colour were signed pieces, including an attractive diamond ring by GRAFF, set with a cushion-shaped brilliant-cut internally flawless diamond weighing 16.53 carats, which sold for CHF 2,546,500/$2,874,769 (lot 490, est. CHF 1,380,000-2,300,000/ $1,500,000- 2,500,000) and a diamond ring by M. Gerard, featuring a marquise-shaped diamond weighing 15.76 carats, which was competed for by five bidders and sold for CHF 1,314,500/$1,483,952 (lot 471, est. CHF 830,000- 1,500,000/ $900,000-1,600,000).

Coloured Gemstones
The offering of coloured stones was led by an exceptionally large assortment of Kashmir sapphires, the finest sapphires in the world, including a sapphire and diamond ring, set with an octagonal step-cut sapphire weighing 8.74 carats and dating from circa 1930, which sold for CHF 410,500/$463,418 (lot 464, est. CHF 230,000-315,000/$250,000-340,000); an attractive sapphire and diamond brooch designed as stylised floral spray, competed for by five bidders and sold for more than three times the estimate to bring CHF 1,426,500/$1,610,390 (lot 488, est. CHF 185,000-370,000/ $200,000-400,000), and a pair of sapphire and diamond pendent ear clips, suspending a cushion-sapphire weighing 7.30 and 7.07 carats respectively, which sold for CHF 1,082,500/$1,222,045 (lot 489, CHF 185,000-370,000/$200,000-400,000.

Completing this selection of coloured gemstones were two impressive Burmese rubies: The first - a spectacular 30.20 carat cushion-shaped ruby, mounted as a ring - sold for CHF 3,778,500/$4,265,586 (lot 484, est. CHF 1,850,000 – 3,650,000 / $2,000,000–4,000,000); the second – a 29.40 carat oval ruby mounted as a ring by Cartier - sold for CHF 1,314,500/$1,483,952 (lot 469, est. CHF 920,000-1,850,000 / $1,000,000-2,000,000).

A superb emerald and diamond ring, set with an octagonal step-cut Colombian emerald weighing 12.03 carats, which has been described by the SSEF laboratory as “a very exceptional treasure”, sold for CHF 554,500/$625,981 (lot 468, est. CHF 460,000-735,000/ $500,000-800,000).

Fine period and signed jewels
Among the period jewels was a masterpiece of Art Deco jewellery, a fine diamond bracelet created by Boucheron circa 1925, which sold for CHF 554,500/$625,981 (lot 485, est. CHF 110,000–165,000/ $120,000-180,000). Among the other great signatures in the sale was a stunning pair of gem-set and diamond ear clips by JAR, which sold for CHF 338,500/$382,136 (lot 447, est. 95,000-185,000/ $100,000-200,000).

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