The 103-carat ‘Light of Africa,” diamond fetched just over $20 million, topping its $18 million high estimate, at Christie’s New York Magnificent Jewels sale on Wednesday. The final price includes the buyer’s premium.
The D-Flawless diamond was cut from a 299.3-carat rough, unearthed from the famed Cullinan Diamond Mine, which has produced some of the most historic and sensational diamonds in history, including the Great Star of Africa and the Second Star of Africa which are both part of the British Crown Jewels.
Bidding began at $6 million and rose quickly with several participating as seen through Christie’s live feed. When reaching $13 million, the number of buyers declined to about four persons by phone. The competing bids went down to $250,000 and eventually to $200,000 before auctioneer Rahul Kadakia, Christie’s head of jewellery, dropped the gavel at the $17 million high bid (before buyer’s premium).
The other big story in this sale at Christie’s Rockefeller Center headquarters was the offering of 18 jewels from the estate of Ann Getty –philanthropist, publisher, paleoanthropologist, socialite, and wife of Gordon Getty, a billionaire member of the Getty family.
The collection of jewels included 11 pieces by Joel Arthur Rosenthal, more commonly known as JAR. Getty was an early supporter of the famed contemporary high jewelry artist and the two grew to be close friends. This collection was deemed by Christie’s to be one of the largest and most important collections of JAR’s jewels.
All the pieces from the Ann Getty collection sold with some achieving exceptional results. Among them was an agate, diamond and sapphire zebra brooch that sold for $554,400, totally smashing its $70,000 high estimate.
Other JAR pieces that achieved outsized results was a pair of multi-gem diamond and diamond “Oak Leaf” earrings that achieved $504,000, more than triple its $150,000 high estimate; and a multi-gem and diamond “Vitrail Fleur-De-Lys” brooch that sold for $453,600, smashing its $120,000 high estimate. The JAR jewels alone achieved more than $5 million.
Other jewels owned by Ann Getty included a sparkling and delicate Belle Epoque diamond choker that fetched $409,500; more than five times its $80,000 high estimate. In addition, sapphire and diamonds earrings by Indian high-jewelry artist, Bhagat, achieved $126,000, more than double its high estimate.
Overall, the sale of 99 lots totaled more than $48.8 million with 95% sold by lot and 98% by value. There was spirted bidding for several important lots in the sale.
Colorless diamonds were high performers in the sale, but some did struggle to achieve high results. For example, a diamond necklace featuring 76.46-carat heart-shaped diamond sold within estimates for $4.9 million, but only after the buyer’s premium was added.
The last lot of the evening was a 20.23-carat pear brilliant-cut diamond that was offered without reserve. It fetched just over $2 million, which was at the high end of its estimate.
A pair of diamond earrings of 11.55 and 11.02 carats fetched more than $1.3 million, within estimates. A Harry Winston necklace achieved $970,200, nearly double its high estimate and a Tiffany and Co. featuring an 11.12-carat round brilliant diamond sold for $945,000, within estimates.
Two diamonds failed to reached reserve: a pair of earrings featuring four diamonds totaling more than 14 carats of E to F color VS1 or VS2 clarity had an estimate of $300,000 to $500,000; and a diamond ring centered with an 8.02-carat emerald cut diamond with F color and VS1 clarity had an estimate of $250,000 – $300,000.
The sale achieved strong results for jewelry from notable private collections. It included: a selection of Bulgari jewelry from the collection of Signora Silvana Mangano, led by a Bulgari Fancy Intense yellow diamond ‘Trombino’ ring of 15.98 carats, which sold for $693,000; a Van Cleef & Arpels set of coral and gold jewelry, formerly in the collection of Brooke Astor that realized $75,600, and a pair of emerald and diamond earrings of 13.79 and 12.14 carats from an unidentified collector achieved more than $1.2 million. A colored diamond and diamond bracelet by Carvin French from a private collector fetched $2.7 million.