GENEVA - Twice a year on the shores of Lake Geneva, Sotheby’s transforms the public spaces of the Hôtel Beau-Rivage from ballroom to saleroom. The record-breaking auction of Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels yesterday evening saw collectors vie for an array of pieces that united provenance and connoisseurship.

With a total of CHF91,778,750 ($95,272,767), the sale was led by the 8.62 carat cushion-shaped “Graff Ruby” from the Collection of Dimitri Mavrommatis, which established a world auction record for a ruby at CHF8,285,000 ($8,600,410). This spectacular gemstone displaying the coveted “pigeon blood” red colour was bought by Laurence Graff, who commented shortly after: “It was a natural thing to do. Graff deals in the finest gemstones in the world and this is the finest ruby in the world. We are very proud to have it in our possession for the second time.”

In total 16 pieces from the Mavrommatis Collection were offered, which, in addition to the ruby, saw a new world record set of CHF5,765,000 ($5,984,474) for a rare 27.54 carat step-cut Kashmir sapphire. The collection contained several beautiful creations by two of the most respected contemporary jewellers, Graff and JAR, the leading art jeweller of the last 50 years who was represented by a pair of superb sapphire, ruby and diamond earrings, which sold for CHF557,000 ($578,205).

The auction also focused on historic jewels, illustrating that while of museum quality, they are not museum pieces. For example, a sumptuous natural pearl and diamond necklace that would not look out of place worn with modern couture sold for CHF 3,301,000 ($3,426,669). It had formerly been in the collection of Joséphine de Beauharnais, Queen of Sweden and Norway (1807-76) and probably once the property of Joséphine de Beauharnais (1763-1814), first wife of Napoleon Bonaparte and Empress of the French.

Vintage jewels drew attention thanks to a stunning collection of 23 Art Deco jewels, objects and clocks by Cartier, which included a 1927, a rock crystal, mother-of-pearl, onyx and diamond “Model A” Mystery Clock, which sold for CHF 605,000 ($628,032) eclipsing the previous record set just a day earlier.