Walking up Fifth Avenue in New York City never seems to get old, yes, even in the wake of COVID-19. And on this November afternoon, there is a buzz about Midtown that hasn’t been felt for quite a while. After all, nothing can truly stop the magic of the holiday season in Manhattan.
I turn on 49th street and enter Rockefeller Center, and am instantly taken by the presence of the world’s most iconic Christmas tree. Despite that it’s surrounded by scaffolding as it receives meticulous decoration in preparation for its highly anticipated lighting in a couple of weeks, it’s surreality is still completely felt.
At precisely one o’clock, I see my friend, jewelry curator and designer Stephanie Gottlieb, round the corner. Immediately, an excitement within me builds. It goes without saying that a get- together for a socially distanced coffee, this was not. No, we were meeting in person for the first time in months because, as representatives of the Natural Diamond Council, we were invited to an exclusive private preview of the pieces in Christie’s Auction House’s upcoming Jewels Online and Magnificent Jewels auctions. To say we were excited would have been an understatement.
Both avid Instagrammers, Stephanie and I immediately proceed to capture this once-in-a-lifetime experience selfie-style (of course). We walk through the revolving doors of Christie’s into a sanctuary of fine art and make our way to the private salon lined with display cases filled with breathtaking fine diamond jewelry, and are directed to sit and wait in the stunning acrylic and orange suede chairs surrounding a rectangle table in the center of the room.
A few seconds later, in walks fellow jewelry aficionado and Christie’s jewels online auction specialist, Edward Klopfer, holding a grey suede tray filled with an eclectic selection of fine jewelry. Edward explains that this selection of more than a dozen pieces is from the Christie’s Jewels online sale taking place until December 1st, 2020.
Stephanie and I are encouraged to touch and examine anything we like, a rare and highly coveted privilege. All laid out in front of us the pieces as a whole are overwhelming—in the very best way. You must let your heart guide you to a jewel.
Almost immediately, I pick up a two-tone diamond brooch in a timeless floral motif. Edward explains that this seamless blend of platinum and 18 karat gold has around three carats of natural diamonds and was made by Schlumberger, the famed designer for Tiffany & Co. I’m swept away envisioning this on my lapel as Stephanie gravitates toward a pair of American designer David Webb’s captivating sculpted gold and platinum earrings featuring around four carats of natural diamonds.
Soon after, a colorful necklace from the back calls my name. I learn that it was made by the legendary House of Graff, with a chandelier design containing more than 13 carats of exquisite diamonds, plus a touch of vibrant green emeralds and red rubies. As our experience continues, we can’t help but take the time to learn about each piece, and to touch and feel the inherent quality and detail.
As we think our day at Christie’s is nearing its end, we feel so grateful to be up close and personal with so many incredible pieces of fine diamond jewelry. Little do we know that Edward had a big surprise for us before we go.
This time, he returns to the salon with his arms filled with trays of fine jewelry from the Magnificent Jewels live auction happening on December 8th, 2020. Our eyes widen and jaws drop. This is somehow even more impressive than before.
We reach out and pick up what is clearly a natural pink diamond ring from the tray. Edward confirms that it is, in fact, a graded fancy orangy-pink marquise cut diamond weighing more than five carats and set in a pink gold setting with small pink diamonds to match, made by British jeweler David Morris. Next, I reach for a 10-plus carat oval diamond on a delicate split shank band followed by a large, elongated oval diamond with natural fancy deep brown-yellow color—perhaps the most unique diamond I have ever laid eyes upon.
We then gravitate toward two pieces from the recognizably iconic Cartier Panthere motif. A pair of diamond hoops peppered with black onyx spots and a three-dimensional panther ring with an onyx nose and green emerald eyes. This must be what heaven feels like.
The last piece we have time to learn about was one of the most interesting: an antique diamond necklace circa 1880 from the collection of Mrs. Henry Ford II. With more than 20 carats of beautiful antique cut diamonds and a history to match, this piece embodies what makes fine jewelry auctions so unique and exciting.
Stephanie and I are curious about how the average person goes about bidding on pieces like this and are surprised to learn how easy it is by simply signing up on their website. With some pieces starting at only five hundred dollars, it seems there is something for everyone.
As all days do, our incredible day at Christie’s New York is now really nearing its end. Two fine jewelry lovers couldn’t have asked for a better day, hands-on with a diverse and breathtaking museum-worthy diamond collection. We say our goodbyes and part ways on 49th street, back again in the cold. As I walk to catch the subway back home, every piece I had touched that day lingers in my mind. All I can do is hope this exclusive experience was the first of many to come.