Collectors, gem experts and jewellery lovers were buzzing with excitement in Geneva on May 15 when a whole host of incredible pieces hit the auction block. The three most prominent pieces – the Farnese Blue diamond and two 50 carat diamonds – soared far above their estimates to secure eye-watering prices.
The Farnese Blue diamond – a historic treasure passed down for 300 years in the same family – sold for an impressive CHF 6.7 million (£4.97m), far above its estimate of CHF 3.5 to 5 million. The 6.16 carat pear-shaped blue diamond was given to Elisabeth Farnese, Queen of Spain, as a wedding present in 1715 and was subsequently passed down through four of the most important royal families in Europe.
A further two lots got bidders in a frenzy – a 51.71 carat round diamond and a 50.39 carat oval diamond. Both sold above their estimates at CHF 9.26 million (£6.86m) and CHF 8.13 million (£6.03m) respectively. Discovered in Botswana, both diamonds are Type IIa D-colour with flawless clarity.
Individuals from more than 50 countries participated in the ‘Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels’ sale, which secured CHF 85.7 million (£63.5m) overall.
Read More: Blue Diamond Smash World Auction Records
Other highlights from the sale include a 2.63 carat fancy vivid purplish pink diamond, which set an auction price record for a fancy vivid purplish pink. This particular diamond has a modified round brilliant-cut shape, which allows the colour and life of the stone to be shown to its full potential.
Lot 372 - Rare Pink Sapphire and Diamond Pendant (left) and Lot 374 - Superb fancy vivid purplish pink diamond ring.
Other record-breakers included a pink sapphire and diamond pendant, set with an oval pink sapphire of 95.45 carats. It was bought for CHF 2.29 million (£1.7m) and far exceeded its lowest estimate for CHF 580,000! The previous record for a pink sapphire was secured at Christie’s in Geneva in May 2014.
Sotheby’s was certainly on a roll on May 15, with a further three diamonds setting world records. A highly unusual fancy vivid yellowish green diamond weighing 2.52 carats was purchased for an incredible CHF 939,000 (£696,613.65), and a 9.70 carat fancy light purplish pink diamond and a fancy purple-pink diamond of 5.04 carats also excelled.
Caroline Lang, chairman of Sotheby's Switzerland auctioneering the Farnese Blue.
Elsewhere, Kashmir sapphires proved their perennial popularity with excellent sales results. An opulent 1930s ring adorned with a 4.01 carat gem with a highly coveted ‘royal blue’ colour realised an above-estimate price of CHF 1.8 million (£1.3m), as did a step-cut blue sapphire of 11.64 carats.
A personal favourite of the Gem-A team – a 19th century emerald cameo and diamond bracelet – sold for four times its estimate at CHF 250,000 (£185,466). Jewels by Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels performed strongly, as did signed pieces featuring animals and birds. Incredibly, a Van Cleef & Arpels ‘Zip’ necklace, created in the 1950s, sold for ten times its estimate at CHF 507,000 (£376,126).
Lot 303 - Fine Emerald and Diamond Bracelet (or Brooch) with portrait of Medusa.
Lot 325 - Van Cleef And Arpels - The Zip parure.
With such high demand for incredible diamond and gemstone jewels, Gem-A will be keeping a close eye on auction results and reporting back on the most impressive pieces to go under the hammer.
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Cover image: The Farnese Blue diamond and two 50 carat diamonds, courtesy of Sotheby's.
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