GENEVA - Describe the colour blue, or the colour red. They are of course, familiar – colours one has seen countless times, but still it is an amusingly impossible task. There are certain things which defy us to capture them in words. It is only in the very rarest moments of inspiration that one can hope to portray the works of nature – passion, endearment, beauty – without nauseating one’s audience. We are marred by limitations, but Nature does not suffer the same tiresome constraints.

Diamond necklace, 'Ivresse', Cartier. Estimate 5,850,000–9,700,000 CHF.

There is a feeling when one sees a truly exceptional gemstone for the very first time. This feeling arrives entirely unannounced, suddenly, urgently and without stopping to remove its hat, marches right to the heart. More sensation than thought, it comes before any attempt to ascribe value and before any more considered judgement can be made. It is certainly more emotional than rational, and, like the colour of the gems themselves, rather hard to describe.  

Pair of Burmese sapphire and diamond ear clips weighing 15.77 and 16.90 carats, Cartier. Estimate 760,000 ­ 1,150,000 CHF.

It is folly to try to depict here, in a few words, the visual impact of the extraordinary stones in the Cartier collection of the Geneva Magnificent Jewels sale. It is not coincidental that arguably the finest jewellery house of the 20th Century has chosen such classic and unembellished designs. As any chef will explain, the best ingredients require very little manipulation. Take this sapphire and diamond brooch and pair of sapphire and diamond earrings. Seeing the gentle richness of the 30.23 carat Kashmir in the brooch and the royal blue of the beautifully matched pair of Burmese stones in the earrings for the first time, feels as if the spectrum of this colour has been renewed. This is Kandinsky’s ideal of ‘Heavenly Blue,’ the colour fit for robing Madonnas, a sudden glimpse of something genuinely celestial. That is this what each stone offers: the opportunity to see colour anew – and to possess it.

Kashmir sapphire and diamond brooch, Cartier, the sapphire weighing 30.23 carats. Estimate 3,350,000–5,700,000 CHF.

Celestial though they may seem, these pieces were designed and made by human hands. By the careful use of exceptional materials one can transcend our earthly constraints. This diamond necklace, set throughout with stones of an unapproachable quality, is a highly important jewel, but it is the enthusiasm with which its designers have chosen to ensure that every single stone is nothing short of perfect, that has made it become a truly great object. 

'The Sunrise Ruby', a superb and extremely rare Burmese ruby and diamond ring weighing 25.59 carats, Cartier. Estimate 11,500,000–17,400,000 CHF.

Finally, there is the ‘Sunrise Ruby’. Its name invites the comparison with the dawn of a summer’s day, yet with such extraordinary, almost violent, richness of colour it is perhaps less temperate. This stone is so exceptional in so many ways that you really must see it for yourself.  The likelihood of finding a stone of this size and quality is so minute that its appearance may be considered quite miraculous.

Luckily these jewels have the power to speak for themselves, and to speak far more eloquently than we ever could. Beauty, as we all know, is its own truth.