As a diamond jewellery designer, Christmas came early for me this year. Amidst the pandemic and falling temperatures in New York City, my silver lining came studded with sparkling diamonds as I was invited by the Natural Diamond Council to get an exclusive preview of the jewels to be auctioned at the Magnificent Jewels 2020 Sale at Christie’s.
“It’s at auction houses like Christie’s where we get to revel in the magnificence of epic diamonds and are left awestruck by remnants of legacies.”
Historically, Christie’s has been home to auctioning natural diamond jewellery – from the famous Taylor-Burton Cartier diamond ring sold in 2011, to the recent record-breaking sale of the Type IIa diamond ring at USD 2 million, the most expensive jewel ever auctioned online.
Stepping through the revolving doors at the iconic Rockefeller Plaza on 49th Avenue evoked a sense of nostalgia. Christie’s holds a special place in my heart as this is where I learned to appreciate jewellery, working as a viewing assistant not too long ago. I made my way to the exclusive viewing room and there they were – the auction jewels on display, resplendent with fine natural diamonds, spectacles of sheer brilliance.
The display included the Vanderbilt Estate diamond necklace circa 1950 from the collection of Wendy Vanderbilt Lehman of the Vanderbilt family, who were known for their luxurious lifestyle. The necklace’s exquisite craftsmanship features 25 pear-shaped iconic diamonds ranging from 5.93 to 0.55 carats. This Oscar-worthy stunner sold for a staggering USD 0.75 million the next day.
The second piece that caught my eye was a multi-shape natural diamond bracelet weighing over 24 carats, inviting a starting bid of USD 220,000. The finesse of its cut and internally flawless S|1 clarity added new meaning to Rihanna’s Shine Bright Like a Diamond.
Accompanying me during this walkthrough was my patient host, Edward Ian Klopfer, a jewellery savant and Christie’s online jewels auction specialist who generously offered to capture the dazzle with my camera as I played muse. Yet, what needed no photograph to be remembered was the statement diamond wreath necklace from luxury retailer, Tiffany & Co. It was a mix of 29 spectacular circular, pear and marquise-cut diamonds mounted in platinum, weighing about 60 carats. Having this necklace grace my neck was a fleeting magical moment, its frosty sparkle making heads turn.
But the bling fest was far from over. Next in line were the pear-cut natural diamond drop earrings by one of the most exclusive jewellers, Atelier Moussaieff. This pair evoked some major jaw drops as they were gavelled for close to a million dollars. Made in two pieces, the danglers could be worn for the ultimate glam-slam and could even double up as staple daily-wear solitaire studs. This style is a must if you are building your wedding trousseau.
My personal favourite from the walkthrough was the 10-carat diamond ring in a remarkable modified lozenge step cut. As I reluctantly parted ways with the jewel, I couldn’t help but think of this cut as the perfect replacement to a traditional engagement ring.
“At the Online Auction the next day, the 360 jewels on display invited a total bid of USD 45 million.”
The Diamond and sapphire bracelet from Cartier took centre-stage. The exceptional Kashmir sapphire at the centre of 67.90 carat, D colour, internally flawless natural diamonds was purchased by Harry Winston as part of the supreme legacy collection. The piece fetched the highest bid of over USD 6 million.
Auctions are often celebrated for their flamboyance and exhibition of cultural touchstones. But as paddles keep vying and bids keep mounting, each piece commands a rich history of its provenance. These pieces are either passed on from the confines of one family, or from one generation to another. I felt a sense of privilege to have had this experience first-hand, because it taught me, how history is always in-the-making.