Diamonds, signed jewels soar at Christie’s sales

* Christie’s says international market back to full strength

* Geneva jewellery sales net $33.9 million

* Flawless diamond goes for $5.14 million

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA, May 13 (Reuters Life!) – Diamonds and signed vintage
jewels netted strong prices at Christie’s semi-annual sales in
Geneva, signalling that the international market has returned to
full strength, the auction house said on Thursday.

The star lot on Wednesday night, which followed modern art
sales in New York last week, was a flawless white diamond
weighing 40.21 carats sold for 5.69 million Swiss francs ($5.14
million) to an anonymous buyer, it said. The rectangular-cut
stone was estimated at $4.5 million-$5.5 million.

“The vigour seen in the US and Asia was equalled here in
Europe, with strong prices achieved for fine jewellery, watches
and wine. demand for stellar examples rivalled that seen at the
height of the market, which very much seems to have returned
‘en force’,” Francois Curiel, President of Christie’s
Switzerland, said in a statement.

Christie’s jewellery sales totalled $33.9 million, above the
high end of its pre-auction estimate, with some 89 percent of
the 220 lots on offer finding new owners, it said.

Rival Sotheby’s (ADD RIC) netted 60 million Swiss francs
($54.10 million), almost double the low end of its pre-sale
estimate, at its jewellery sales in the Swiss city on Tuesday.

Jean-Marc Lunel, head of Christie’s jewellery department in
Geneva, European capital for jewel auctions, said of its own
results: “Once again diamonds dominated the total, although
signed period jewels proved the most popular pieces in the sale.

“Two private collections of fine vintage jewellery
virtually sold out for $9.9 million, while every lot in the
special ‘Cartier section’ found a buyer, achieving a total of
$4.2 million,” he said.

Among the Cartier pieces was a 1928 “Tutti Frutti” bracelet
from the Art Deco period, set with rubies, sapphires, diamonds,
and emerald and onyx beads, which soared to 1.023 million Swiss
francs, more than five times its pre-sale estimate. Hancocks &
Co, London-based traders, bought it, according to the statement.

A stunning necklace set with 20 round diamonds, known as a
riviere, went for 5.25 million Swiss francs to an Asian private
collector, it said. The estimate was $1.8 million-$2.4 million
for the piece dripping with 155.17 carats worth of diamonds.

A diamond and enamel brooch designed by award-winning
British jeweller Shaun Leane, who named it “White Light” after
being inspired by a Dylan Thomas poem about the first snow of
winter, went for 1.1 million Swiss francs to a New York
jewellery dealer, Christie’s said.

Its 13 pear-shaped Steinmetz diamonds and smaller pave
diamonds mounted in white gold weigh nearly 41 carats.

“It is an extraordinary jewel, a modern contemporary
creation and of course a unique piece,” Lunel told Reuters
before the sale.

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(Editing by Paul Casciato)

Diamonds, signed jewels soar at Christie’s sales