MARKET COMMENTARY – Signed jewels and exceptionally rare and beautiful gemstones outperform at Geneva Magnificent Jewels sales


By David Brough

GENEVA – Exceptionally rare and beautiful signed jewellery, and extraordinary diamonds and coloured gemstones, outperformed at the Geneva Magnificent Jewels sales in November, underpinning the strength of the top end of the market during inflationary times.

Christie’s (Four Seasons Hotel Des Bergues, Geneva, November 8)

The highest result achieved for a single lot in the Geneva Magnificent Jewels sales in November was the 18.18-carat Fortune Pink diamond, which sold for 28.4 million Swiss francs at Christie’s, within its 25-35 million CHF estimate.

Fortune Pink

“A very healthy result,” Rahul Kadakia, international head of jewellery at Christie’s, told Jewellery Outlook (see full video interview at @jewelleryoutlook Instagram.) “Sold to an Asian private customer.”

Rahul Kadakia is head of international jewellery at Christie's

Rahul Kadakia is head of international jewellery at Christie’s

Among the jewellery lots, rare and beautiful signed pieces outperformed, including some Alexandre Reza items.

“There are a lot of coloured diamonds in the Reza jewellery, and coloured diamonds are in general doing very well,” said Kadakia, who was lead auctioneer at the Christie’s Geneva sale.

“We have a few more Reza jewels coming up for sale in the rest of our season, including a 100-carat sapphire at Christie’s New York on December 6.”

Signed Art Deco pieces, such as a Cartier diamond bracelet, outperformed in the sale.

“In my opinion Art Deco was the best period of jewellery manufacturing in terms of design, in terms of stone selection, and the flexibility that the houses had in using all kinds of materials. There is not a lot of it available any more.”

The Cartier Art Deco diamond bracelet (lot 60) garnered 239,400 Swiss francs, soaring above its 110,000 to 160,000 Swiss francs estimate.

Asked to comment on the impact of high inflation on the high gemstones and jewellery market, Kadakia said, “Right now we are in a very balanced space in the market where you are able to purchase colourless diamonds, coloured diamonds and coloured gemstones … and to be able to use them as a hedge against everything (market conditions) going on in the world.”

Sotheby’s (Mandarin Oriental, Geneva, November 9)

Two extraordinary Cartier rings, one set with a superb Burmese sapphire weighing more than 20 carats, and the other featuring a rare white diamond of more than 33 carats, were among the leading performers in the sale, underscoring the impact of signed pieces in high-value jewellery sales.

The sapphire and diamond ring fetched 2.77 million Swiss francs, above its 1 to 2 million CHF estimate. The white ring garnered 2.83 million Swiss francs, within its 2.3 to 3.3 million CHF estimate.

“The sapphire ring featured one of the best Burmese sapphires that we have seen recently. It was a ‘royal blue’ colour, really clean, well laid out,” said Olivier Wagner, head of Sotheby’s Geneva jewellery department who was lead auctioneer in the Sotheby’s Geneva sale (see full interview at @jewelleryoutlook Instagram.)

“We don’t see these kinds of stones very often – they are extremely, extremely rare. The demand for this kind of sapphire has increased.”

Olivier Wagner heads Sotheby's Geneva jewellery department
Olivier Wagner heads Sotheby’s Geneva jewellery department

Another standout sapphire in the auction was a 1950s pink sapphire, sapphire and diamond brooch (lot 348), featuring a 92.01-carat cushion-shaped central sapphire, mounted by prestigious maison Schlumberger, with remarkable provenance, having once belonged to the collection of Fiona Thyssen-Bornemisza.

It surged to 1.74 million Swiss francs, well above its estimate of 300,000 to 500,000 Swiss francs.

“The provenance, the signature by Schlumberger, the quality of the central sapphire – everything the collectors look for,” Wagner said.

Among the diamonds on offer, one exceptional item was a superb fancy yellow diamond ring by Mouawad, which netted 2.4 million Swiss francs, comfortably within its 1.8-3.0 million Swiss francs estimate.

“That was a very impressive vivid yellow diamond,” Wagner said. “It sold for a strong price for a vivid yellow.”

Among the highlights, a 5.53-carat fancy blue diamond that was part of the De Beers Exceptional Blue Collection, failed to sell on the day, despite gathering plentiful enquiries before the auction and bids during the live sale.

“The blue is an exceptional stone in every sense: it attracted significant interest prior to today’s sale. While we didn’t get to see it sell in the room tonight, we are confident it will find a new home very soon,” Sotheby’s said in a statement.

A classic Van Cleef & Arpels zipper necklace, created in 2016, performed extremely well in the sale, achieving 781,200 Swiss francs, exceeding its estimate of 500,000-700,000 Swiss francs.

Iconic creations like the signed zipper, first developed by Van Cleef & Arpels in the 1930s, are consistent high performers in the high-value jewellery sales.

Personal favourites

“I loved the gorgeous imperial topaz brooch (lot 323) – of exceptional size, rarity and beauty – that triggered a remarkable bidding response in the saleroom, culminating in a hammer price of 554,400 Swiss francs, over five times its upper estimate,” said David Brough, Editor, Jewellery Outlook.

Olivier Wagner said: “It was a very special stone, a very special colour, with a very unusual tint of red, and that attracted lots of collectors.”

Myint Myint Thein (MiMi), MiMi Jewellery Ltd, London-based gemstone and jewellery dealer who attended the sale, added: “I have learned how expensive imperial topaz can be. We will be able to get bargains in smaller auctions and secondhand markets.”

MiMi’s favourite piece in the sale was an exceptional emerald and diamond necklace by Ronald Abram (lot 357), which sold for 1.0 million Swiss francs, within its 900,000 to 1.4 million estimate.

“The emeralds have a beautiful green colour, and the piece has a great design,” she said.

Martina Wagner of said her favourite piece was a fancy vivid purplish pink diamond and coloured diamond ring (lot 354), which netted 1.62 million Swiss francs, within its 1.5-2.0 million estimate.

“This is my favourite ring: it is so refined, with a value that only an expert can see. For that reason, it is pretty safe to wear every day,” she said.

Sotheby's sale under way, featuring auctioneer Jessica Wyndham

Sotheby’s sale under way, featuring auctioneer Jessica Wyndham