This Art Deco Cartier Kashmir sapphire, platinum, and diamond ring sold at Freeman's on June 4 for $206,500 (est. $20,000/30,000) after competitive bidding. The mixed-cut sapphire weighs approximately 6.7 carats and is prong-set and flanked on either side by three petite round-cut diamonds. The ring is signed by the maker and accompanied by an AGL certificate stating that the sapphire is of Kashmir origin with no evidence of heat treatment or clarity enhancement. Freeman's photo.
This circa 1900 18k yellow gold, pink topaz, and diamond pendant necklace, 10" long, with the briolette-cut topaz suspended from a round and a pear-shaped topaz, accented by petite round old-European-cut diamonds, realized $40,000 (est. $4000/6000). This lot "was a real surprise for us...that pink topaz drop with the briolette cut that was so beautiful. It came from an estate that we've been working with for about a year now."
Waterhouse was speaking of the estate of Ann Brenner Ritt, mentioned in previous columns covering Freeman's sales in the past year. Waterhouse said, "It was so unusual to have such a beautiful color in that mammoth drop. It did turn out to be more than forty carats. And to be honest, we should have known, because the estate from which it came-the woman had absolutely spectacular taste. She really had an eye. So while she may not have been a dealer or had the knowledge, she did understand what she was looking at...and across the board [she] just chose really lovely things." Freeman's photo.
Antique Jewelry and Gemology
by Mary Ann Hensel
I'll report on three jewelry auctions this month: Freeman's in Philadelphia on June 4; Skinner in Boston on June 12; and Bonhams in New York City (simulcast to Los Angeles and San Francisco) on June 13. These sales had a finger on the pulse of the antique jewelry market in these cities and beyond as the Internet continues to bring the market to an international audience of buyers.
Freeman's highly successful 250-lot sale grossed more than $2.4 million. Freeman's post-sale press release called the sale a "dazzling frenzy" in which it sold "some of the most remarkable jewelry in Freeman's 207-year history to a packed room and over 22 phone lines."
Kate Waterhouse, head of the jewelry department, said, "There was quite a bit of interest on Artfact for both our fine paintings sale as well as jewelry, which were held within a day of each other. In some instances, [there was] almost twice as much as past June sales. So presale viewing across the board was very, very strong, but I think a number of those people may in the end have registered for phone bids. We ended up needing between twenty-five and twenty-eight phone bidders on the day of the sale. We were very phone-bid heavy."
The top lots were two large diamond rings. "They were pretty straightforward pieces-they were lovely and hugely impressive diamonds on the finger," said Waterhouse. At the top was a 10.8-carat "Golconda" diamond and platinum dinner ring (est. $400,000/ 600,000) that brought $482,500 (includes buyer's premium). Second to the top was a lady's yellow and white diamond dinner ring that realized $362,500 (est. $300,000/ 400,000).
I mentioned to Waterhouse that I found the auction exciting to watch because prices were strong and I could sense optimism in the air. She agreed, saying, "We did have some really nice results, yes." I saw many pieces sell well over estimates, and many of the antique items in particular sold well.
"It was funny. I didn't really grasp what was going on until about lot twenty-five when it opened at ninety thousand dollars against a presale estimate of twenty to thirty thousand. I said, 'That's great. That's really wonderful.' The consignors are fabulous people, and those are the moments when you feel really good. It was a great piece; it sold for a really solid sum of money. We had a left bid a little bit below that, so we actually had to start bidding there, which created such a huge buzz in the room...There was this kind of 'oh my goodness' moment in the room, and the entire phone bidding table was standing."
Waterhouse was referring to the sale of an Art Deco Cartier Kashmir sapphire, platinum, and diamond ring that soared to $206,500, making it the third-highest lot.
"It was an interesting sapphire... when we heard it was Kashmir, I was surprised. It didn't ring true as that really cobalt blue tone, but there was a lot of discussion from people I overheard about possibly re-cutting [in a way that] you wouldn't lose too much, so people might've been able to get a better color out of it should they change the facets just a little bit."
Waterhouse pointed out another antique piece of note, the Patek Philippe double portrait drop brooch, which she said was "very charming...it was a double portrait in impeccable condition." The circa 1890 portrait pendant watch brought $23,750 (est. $10,000/ 15,000). "I just found out that a recent version of that [watch] without the pendant brooch drop had actually been brought in to the Patek Philippe Museum. For some watch and clock buyers, that was an important piece."
Jewelry from the estate of Ann Brenner Ritt was again on offer, sold for the Ann B. Ritt Charitable Foundation which supports the fine and performing arts, education, Judaic traditions, and the Mayo Clinic. While discussing the pink topaz from the collection, Waterhouse said, "When we got the whole grouping in last fall, it was really quite spectacular to see the breadth of her collecting what she chose was pretty spectacular from piece to piece, in its own right. They were all special pieces."
According to Freeman's post-sale press release, it has achieved more than $475,000 for the foundation, over the past three jewelry sales.
Freeman's next fine jewelry and watches sale will be held November 5. Waterhouse promised, "We have another Kashmir coming up on November five that's only three and a half carats, but the color is what I would refer to as the typical Kashmir color, an amazing deep cobalt blue ring. It's so charming in its size because it looks like it's four or five carats. It just has this beautiful tone. That's what I look at and say, 'That's Kashmir.'"
A catalog will be available on line (www.freemansauction.com) prior to the sale.
The 7" long Art Deco platinum, diamond, and morganite bracelet features a modified step-cut morganite in a millegrain and bezel setting within a round-cut diamond surround. On either side of the central morganite is a pear-shape morganite in a scroll-motif surround set with round-cut diamonds. The chain is composed of rectangular links set with diamonds connected by calibrÃ©-cut emerald links that finish with smaller pear-shape morganites in millegrain and bezel settings. It is accented with a similar scroll motif diamond clasp. It sold well above the $7000/9000 estimate for $25,000. Freeman's photo.
In the top ten at Freeman's was a circa 1928 Mauboussin, France, Art Deco platinum, carved emerald, and diamond necklace, 17" long, with graduated, carved Classical figure cameo emeralds, separated by platinum and diamond lotus motif links. It is signed by the maker and displays a serial number with hallmarks. The necklace converts into double matching bracelets, and the central carved emerald can be worn as a single pendant. It also was originally part of a suite of three carved emerald and diamond pieces by Mauboussin (the other two pieces were in the sale, but sold as separate lots). It sold above the $20,000/30,000 estimate for $68,500.
Waterhouse said, "The Mauboussin piece was just stunning. Unfortunately, at the time when I saw the necklaceoriginally in November of 2011I actually hadn't seen that it was a necklace with the earrings and ring suite. I just thought it was the necklace. And because I was so bowled over by the piece when I saw it, I didn't notice immediately...that it broke down into other possible usable pieces, which is always kind of like perfection that you have this amazing piece, and on top of that it could actually be even better.
"The emeralds were carved from the top down as cameos. But before that, we believe that they were used as beads in a longer necklace, because every single emerald was drilled straight through the center. When I spoke to a bench jeweler who saw the piece, he said, 'You have no idea how difficult and fragile these pieces would've been to carve from the top down.' So a lot of people believe that when the necklace was made by Mauboussin, it was probably actually carved by them as well-but it was hard to determine if that was true or not. Everyone kind of looked at it like...an anomaly of a piece. The emeralds were lovely; the clarity was really pretty good. The color was lovely. The ring really glowed on your finger. I was really taken with the ring. But it was wonderful that it came as a set because the earrings and ring were not signed, but the necklace was." Freeman's photo.
Fine sapphires defied estimates at the Skinner sale. This antique sapphire and diamond ring is set with a cabochon sapphire measuring approximately 13.18 mm x 10.38 mm x 7.50 mm and weighing 9.92 carats and is framed by old-mine-cut diamonds. The ring is accompanied by two gemology reports stating that the sapphire is Kashmir with no evidence of heat. It realized $189,600 (est. $30,000/50,000). Skinner photo.
Skinner offered 580 lots. Its post-sale press release stated, "The highly successful sale grossed $2.8 million including buyer's premium, surpassing the pre-auction estimate high both period pieces and diamonds produced exceptional results as highlighted by the auction's top seller, an exquisite Art Deco diamond pendant necklace by Cartier." The necklace realized $325,000 (est. $200,000/300,000).
"Colored stones, Art Deco pieces, diamonds, and natural pearls were especially strong performers," according to the press release. Natural pearls are still bringing "extraordinary prices at auction," and results affirmed that statement. A five-strand natural pearl necklace with an emerald and diamond clasp sold for $77,025 (est. $25,000/35,000), and a double-strand natural pearl necklace brought $56,880 (est. $15,000/20,000).
Besides an antique Kashmir sapphire and diamond ring set with a 9.92-carat cabochon sapphire that sold for $189,600, surpassing its $50,000 high estimate, there were a number of antique pieces that fared well. An amethyst riviÃ¨re mounted in gold, with 20 bezel-set cushion-cut amethysts graduating in size, sold for $9480 (est. $4000/6000); matching antique amethyst ear pendants, each set with an oval-cut amethyst suspending a pear-shape amethyst drop, realized $3063 (est. $2000/3000); and an Art Nouveau plique-Ã -jour enamel, ruby, and diamond necklace set with cabochon and circular-cut rubies and old-European- and rose-cut diamonds brought $8888 (est. $4000/6000).
An Art Deco emerald and diamond brooch, bezel-set with an emerald-cut emerald framed by old-European- and old-mine-cut diamonds, sold for $22,515 (est. $8000/10,000). A unique signed T.B. Starr set of four Art Deco platinum and gem-set acrostic stacking rings spelling out "DEAR," set with a square-cut diamond, cabochon emerald, cabochon amethyst, and fancy-cut ruby, brought $22,515 (est. $4000/ 6000).
Skinner will hold its next jewelry auction on September 11 at its Boston gallery. The on-line catalog will be posted on its Web site (www.skinnerinc.com) prior to the sale.
This 3Â¾" x 2Â¼" Georg Jensen silver and labradorite master brooch is pictured in Georg Jensen: A Tradition of Splendid Silver by Janet Drucker. Designed as elaborate foliate and bud motifs set with and suspending labradorite cabochons and drops, it is signed "GI 830S Denmark." It created a bidding war and sold for $20,145 (est. $3000/5000). Skinner photo.
Signed Tiffany & Co. Art Deco platinum and diamond solitaire, prong-set with a cushion-cut diamond weighing 3.92 carats, shoulders and gallery with rose- and old-European-cut diamonds, with engraved accents. It was accompanied by a GIA report stating that the diamond is D color, VS1 clarity, with no fluorescence. The ring soared to $142,200 (est. $60,000/80,000). Skinner photo.
Circa 1915 Marcus & Co. Belle Ã‰poque kunzite and diamond bracelet, 7Â½" long, mounted in platinum-topped gold, designed as a line of slightly graduated rectangular-cut kunzite, each with square openwork spacers of old-European-cut diamonds. It is signed "M & Co." for Marcus & Co. and has an estimated total diamond weight of 3.00 carats. It sold for $20,000 (est. $4000/6000). Bonhams photo.
Bonhams' 188-lot sale held at its New York City headquarters featured "a Renaissance Revival pendant with diamonds, garnet, and enamel. This rare pendant represents an exquisite example of English Renaissance Revival eclecticism, which was embraced during the third quarter of the 19th century," according to a presale press release. In very good condition, the pendant came with a fitted box signed by Harvey & Gore, well-known antiques and diamond dealers established in 1723. It sold for $35,000 (est. $15,000/20,000).
Antique jewelry that sold well included a circa 1870 Archaeological Revival hardstone cameo brooch, retailed by Tiffany & Co., that sold within estimate for $6000. The oval carved agate cameo, mounted in 14k gold and depicting Bacchus with grapes in his hair, came in an original fitted box signed "Tiffany & Co., Union Square, New York."A circa 1915 signed Marcus & Co. Belle Ã‰poque diamond, demantoid garnet, and sapphire brooch mounted in platinum (which reminded me of exotic pastry cutters coming together at a centerpiece of diamonds), designed as a tapered line of alternating calibrÃ©-cut sapphires and demantoid garnets, accentuated by three openwork circular panels of single and old-European-cut diamonds, brought $5625 (est. $2500/3500).
Virginia Salem, director of the jewelry department at Bonhams, New York, described the auction in an information-packed nutshell, saying that the "sale did well-diamonds are showing to be a bit more conservative than the April sales of this year, possibly due to the summer months ahead of us. Finished and signed jewelry and vintage, as well as contemporary wearable jewelry, is strong."
When asked how gold prices were affecting the antique jewelry market, she said, "Wide gold and diamond bracelets are very popular," and the "high end, and signed gold and good design are trumping the fluctuations of gold."
Bonhams' next auction of jewelry will be held in New York City on October 15. View the catalog on line prior to the auction at (www.bonhams.com).
Renaissance Revival, third quarter of the 19th century, garnet, diamond, and enamel pendant, 2 5/8" x 2Â¾", mounted in 18k gold. The openwork quatrefoil pendant centers a square-shaped garnet within a surround of elaborate white, red, green, blue, and black enamel. The reverse is detailed throughout with table-cut diamonds. According to the Bonhams catalog description, "This important jewel represents an exquisite example of the English Renaissance Revival eclecticism embraced during the third quarter of the 19th century...The size and design of this pendant suggest that it may have been created as liturgical or ceremonial jewel." With a fitted box signed "Harvey & Gore, 4 Burlington Gardens, London," it sold for $35,000 (est. $15,000/20,000). Bonhams photo.
Circa 1930 Art Deco diamond necklace mounted in platinum, 16Â¼" long, designed as a series of openwork pear-shape links of single-cut diamonds, each with marquise-cut diamond or round brilliant-cut diamond two-stone spacers, completed by a clasp of baguettes and a half-moon-shape diamond. With an estimated total diamond weight of 11.00 carats, it sold for $30,000 (est. $14,000/16,000). Bonhams photo.