S otheby's Geneva is pleased to present an unparalleled selection of large diamonds and coloured gemstones for its upcoming Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale, including the largest Kashmir sapphire to ever appear at auction, combining great rarity and beauty with craftsmanship and design.
Important sapphire and diamond brooch, 1930s
Designed as a stylised ribbon, set with an oval and a cushion-shaped sapphire weighing 55.19 carats and 25.97 carats respectively, embellished with circular-cut and baguette diamonds.
Formerly in the collection of Maureen Constance Guinness, Marchioness of Dufferin And Ava, the two large sapphires were from a newly discovered deposit, which had been uncovered by a landslide in the Zanskar range of the north-western Himalayas in 1881.
The deposit, later known as the ‘Old Mine’, soon came under the ownership of the Maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir and was a source of exceptional sapphires until around 1887, when it was finally exhausted. Thus, this brief six-year window of mining, in a remote and inhospitable corner of the world, yielded the fabled Kashmir sapphires - some of the finest in history - and two of its largest known finds were gifted to Lady Dufferin.
While large sapphire crystals were reported during the initial discovery of the Kashmir deposits, examples over ten carats are particularly rare, and the Dufferin Sapphires, weighing over 25 and 55 carats respectively, are two of the largest Kashmir sapphires known to have ever come to auction. Each exhibits the deep, velvety blue for which sapphires from these fabled mines are best known.
In 1930, Basil Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, 4th Marquess of Dufferin and Ava married Maureen Constance Guinness, granddaughter of the 1st Earl of Iveagh and an heiress of the Guinness brewing fortune. She and her sisters were known as the ‘Golden Guinness Girls’ due to their beauty, fashion sense and style.
By family tradition, the sapphires mentioned in the inventory from Hariot Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava, were later mounted in the brooch by Cartier in the 1930s. The jewel has remained in the family and this is the first time it has appeared on the market.
“Kashmir sapphires of over 30 carats are a very rare occurrence, so the appearance of a gem of 55.19 carats - the largest ever to come at auction – is an important event. Hailing a distinguished provenance and set as a stunning brooch alongside another Kashmir sapphire, it will undoubtedly invoke much interest among collectors.”
More Big Rocks
Magnificent and Historic Natural pearl and diamond tiara/necklace, Musy, second half of the 19th century
Composed of graduated scroll motifs set with cushion-shaped, circular- and single-cut diamonds, framing eleven slightly baroque drop-shaped natural pearls measuring from approximately 11.75 x 14.10 x 21.00mm to 7.90 x 8.80 x 11.40mm.
From the record-breaking Donnersmarck Tiara to Empress Eugenie’s natural pearl and diamond tiara, a tiara’s history illustrates not only provenance and family relationships but also the stones that adorn it. Royal tiaras play an enduring role in heritage.
One of the most important tiaras to appear at auction in recent years, this royal tiara dates to the second half of the 19th century. Steeped in the rich history of the House of Savoy, this tiara hails an extraordinary provenance. Likely to have been presented to Maria Vittoria dal Pozzo in 1867 as a wedding gift on the occasion of her marriage to Amedeo of Savoy, Duke of Aosta, later elected King of Spain as Amadeo I (1870- 1873), the tiara, which has remained with the family for over 150 years, is believed to have been created by Musy Padre e Figli – Court Jeweller of Turin, and one of the oldest goldsmiths in Europe.
Composed of graduated scroll motifs set with cushion-shaped, circular- and single-cut diamonds, framing eleven slightly baroque drop-shaped natural pearls, the jewel has more recently been seen worn as an elegant necklace.