Frenzies and Fails

Frenzies and Fails

The de GRISOGONO shines at Geneva auction, but other highlight pieces fail to sell

Christie’s and Sotheby’s magnificent jewellery auctions in Geneva in November brought a mixed set of new world records and surprise failures. David Brough attended the auctions for Canadian Jeweller to gauge the health of the top end of the diamond jewellery market.

The Art of de GRISOGONO, Creation 1, an emerald and diamond necklace set with a rectangular cut diamond of 163.41 carats, set a world record for a flawless D-colour diamond sold at auction, fetching US$33.7 million (41.9 million Canadian dollars) at Christie’s Magnificent Jewels sale in Geneva in November.

At the Sotheby’s November Geneva sale, a new world auction record for a fancy light pink diamond was set when a 33.63 carat fancy light pink diamond, mounted as a ring by Harry Winston around 1970, sold for US$12.8 million (15.9 million Canadian dollars).

“I am delighted to have set a new auction record this evening for a fancy light pink diamond, exactly one year after the previous record, set here at Sotheby’s in Geneva,” said David Bennett, worldwide chairman of Sotheby’s international jewellery division.

“This is an exceptionally elegant stone, whose noble provenance also enhanced its value.”

Three highlight pieces offered at the Sotheby’s sale failed to sell during the auction: the 37.30-carat Raj Pink, the Donnersmarck diamonds (two magnificent and historic fancy intense yellow diamonds), and a Moussaieff ring featuring a fancy vivid blue diamond weighing 7.41 carats.

The Moussaieff ring sold straight after the auction, an auction house source said. Details of the sale were not known.

A tough international economic and political climate may have been a contributory factor in the failure of some standout lots to sell, but the pre-sale estimates were reasonable, Bennett said.

“There is fear and political uncertainty. There is a wait-and-see attitude,” Bennett told Canadian Jeweller after the sale, in a reference to anti-corruption crackdowns in Saudi Arabia and China.

“The pre-sale estimates were very fair.”

At Christie’s the de GRISOGONO necklace, featuring the largest diamond to be found in Angola, attracted a frenzy of bidding at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues before the hammer went down on a telephone bidder, who wished to remain unidentified.

“I was a bit nervous before the auction. It’s a fantastic result,” Fawaz Gruosi, founder and creative director of de GRISOGONO, said after the sale.

The salesroom was packed with top jewellers and diamond dealers from around the world, including jeweller Glenn Spiro, who recently exhibited at the Biennale Paris, and diamond dealer Oded Mansori.

Rahul Kadakia, the Christie’s auctioneer who led the sale, said that the auction spanning more than 500 lots had achieved strong prices throughout the day, culminating in US$144.9 million (180 million Canadian dollars) for Christie’s Geneva jewellery sales in November.

Referring to the Art of de GRISOGONO, Kadakia said, “It is a very healthy result. At around US$200,000 (258,000 Canadian dollars) per carat, it is in line with where the market should be for a stone of this quality and size.”