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Sotheby's offers the most extraordinary jewels in the world to discerning collectors looking for special designs dating from the 19th century to the present day. Our auctions feature rare and iconic examples of the artistic creativity of Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Tiffany & Co., Bulgari, Harry Winston, JAR, Graff, David Webb, Verdura, Boucheron, Chaumet, Suzanne Belperron, Boivin and Alexandre Reza, amongst others. The selection of top quality white and coloured diamonds, coloured gemstones and natural pearls is wide and varied, with many fresh-to-the-market examples from private collections, such as The Sunrise Ruby, which sold in Geneva for a record-breaking price of USD $30.3 million.
The international team of jewellery specialists at Sotheby's believes that jewellery is the most personal of the decorative arts and that these pieces tell a special story about the women who once owned them. Their choices reflect their lifestyles, and often provide a fascinating glimpse into another era. From noble and celebrity provenance to prominent philanthropic families, we've been privileged to handle the jewels of many distinguished women including the Duchess of Windsor, Brooke Astor, Ava Gardner, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, Maria Callas, Lily Marinho and Gina Lollobrigida.
Spotlights for 2018
On November 2018, one of the most important historic collections of royal jewels made auction history. One hundred treasures from the collection of the Bourbon Parma family together realised CHF 53.5 million ($53.1 million), more than seven times the pre-sale high estimate of CHF 7 million ($7 million) and a record for any sale of royal jewels, eclipsing the long-held benchmark of $50.3 million established by the sale of jewels of the Duchess of Windsor established in 1987. Every jewel offered tonight found a buyer, with many selling for high multiples of pre-sale expectations.
The star lot of the auction, a natural pearl and diamond pendant from Marie Antoinette's personal collection, soared to CHF 36,427,000 ($36,165,090), leaving its estimate of CHF 1-2 million ($1-2 million) far behind, and establishing a new auction record for a natural pearl.
These jewels had an extraordinary story. Before being taken into captivity, Marie Antoinette carefully wrapped her pearls, diamonds and rubies in cotton, placed them in a wooden chest and sent them to Brussels. From there, they were taken to Vienna, into the safe keeping of the Austrian Emperor, her nephew. Restored to Marie Antoinette's daughter, Madame Royale, following her release in 1795, the jewels were then passed on to the Bourbon Parma family with whom they remained for the next 200 years.
Descended from Louis XIV of France, the Holy Roman Emperors and Pope Paul III, the Bourbon Parma family is linked by blood to the most important ruling families of Europe - from the Bourbons to the Habsburgs, and the pieces offered presented an illuminating insight in to the the fascinating and storied history of the dynasty.
To meet the celebrated artist-jeweller Wallace Chan is to come face-to-face with the confluence of old and new, East and West, tradition and modernity, and art and craft that gives Hong Kong, his home, its unique character.
While Chan may appear the embodiment of old-world Hong Kong, with his traditional clothes, long beard and inscrutable demeanour, he also personifies the futuristic technical advances and virtuosity that have catapulted him to global renown as one of the most innovative artist-craftsmen of modern times. Chan has revitalised the ancient Chinese art of stone carving and at the same time explored and perfected the use of the space-age metal titanium and wondrous gem-setting techniques. In doing so, he introduced an entirely new visual language and palette of melting metallic hues and tones to the world of jewellery. Today, looking back, he says: "You have to embrace the past in order to inspire the future."
In the last several years, Chan's reputation has grown - the jewels are sought by collectors across the globe, and he's been a presence at major fairs including Tefaf in Maastricht and Masterpiece in London. Chan was the first Asian artist-jeweller to exhibit at the Biennale de Paris, in 2012, and the first to be invited to exhibit and give a talk at the Gemological Institute of America in California.
The Wallace Chan masterpieces offered for sale in Hong Kong this October demonstrate his supreme mastery, with high drama and emotionally-charged artistry coming together to conjure jewels that are daringly dreamlike, sensual and sculptural. Chan's beloved jade is found in one pair of pendent earrings, while the rolling rhythm of the choker's diamond-set and agate circles are echoed in meticulously carved discs of rock crystal; and the monumental Tanzanite of the ring, enveloped in its gem-set cocoon, tells of Chan's audacity of scale.
On her journey from Bosworth, Missouri to the heart of Hollywood, Barbara Sinatra always maintained a keen eye and charitable spirit. Join Wendy Holden, journalist and author of Lady Blue Eyes: My Life with Frank, in this introduction to the glamorous life and collection of Barbara Sinatra.
Together with her husband Frank Sinatra, one of the most celebrated singers of the 20th century, Barbara collected a diverse selection of art and objects that reflected the couple's passion for excellence. Highlights of the collection include film and entertainment memorabilia, including Frank Sinatra's personal copies of scripts from movies and projects across his career as well as fine art, decorative art, and jewelry collected by the couple. Lady Blue Eyes: Property of Barbara and Frank Sinatra will be offered in a dedicated auction in New York on 6 December, as well as an online sale from 27 November - 7 December.