Magnificent Jewels
Live Auction: 20 April 2021 • 3:00 PM HKT • Hong Kong

Magnificent Jewels 20 April 2021 • 3:00 PM HKT • Hong Kong

S otheby’s Hong Kong is delighted to present the Magnificent Jewels spring auction featuring a wealth of highly collectable jewels curated by our specialists – from iconic signed pieces to flawless diamonds, vivid coloured diamonds and rare gemstones. Leading the sale is a 7.00 carat fancy intense purplish pink diamond ring by Sotheby’s Diamonds. Other highlights include an exquisite 63.66 carat diamond and rock crystal bangle by Cartier, and a unique 23.48 carat fancy deep pinkish orange diamond ring by Cartier. The auction also showcases a fine selection of jadeite, particularly an important bangle and bead necklace of utmost quality amongst a series of remarkable jewelled masterpieces.

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Sotheby’s Diamonds

Sotheby’s Diamonds presents a contemporary collection of modern jewels that brings together the most desirable diamonds with cutting-edge designs. Drawing upon centuries of unmatched expertise and deep connections with art and jewels, Sotheby’s Diamonds creates heirloom masterpieces for distinguished collectors. Following the philosophy that the diamond always comes first, the settings are designed specifically for the chosen stone and its unique subtleties, so the proportions are always perfect.

"The Fabric of Jewellery" by Joseph Ramsay is one of the many successful Sotheby’s Diamonds collaborations with gifted designers. Ramsay's inspiration comes from his fascination with haute couture as well as the luxurious Renaissance period garments and the flowing drapery of ancient sculpture he would see on his frequent visits to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Transparency, reflection and fluidity of shapes are also themes, evoking an underwater world and its myths. Ramsay delves into these realms to create jewels of great visual impact, achieved with a soft colour palette and dynamic forms.

Era of Tiaras

Since ancient times, tiaras have been steeped in symbolism and meaning – from flowers and leaves woven into wreaths for loved ones, to precious metals and magnificent gems that have graced the heads of kings and queens. Dionysus, the god of wine, invented the diadem as an emblem of royalty, according to Pliny the Elder. Since then and across ancient cultures, the diadem has been a symbol of leadership and honour.

In the archives of Chaumet, the famed royal jeweller to Napoleon I, the oldest jewellery design study is an 18th century tiara in the French Neoclassic style, celebrating flora and fauna of the four seasons. Over time, the tiara gradually took on strong symbolic associations with romance. For example, an 18th century painting by Jean-Baptiste Greuze depicts a Roman maiden kneeling before Cupid to receive a floral diadem – symbolizing the crowning of love.

Three highlights from the sale represent different types of special tiaras. Two from 19th century, Lots 1690 and 1691, are convertible into necklaces. During the late 19th century, such tiaras were en vogue, as they offered women the choice of wearing the formal tiara for evenings or removing the framework to wear the jewels as a necklace. Lot 1691 is a rare example that has survived the period and is highlighted with beautiful briolette diamonds together with natural pearls.

Lot 1689 is a bandeau tiara from the early 20th century, a style that was then favoured over the formal tiara as it was considered easier to wear. Women often styled it on the forehead tied with a ribbon behind their heads. Today, antique tiaras are making a comeback. Not only are collectors enamored by this beautiful symbol of love, having it grace personal special occasions, but they also appreciate the tiara's historical significance throughout the ages.


Cartier jewels are well known for their highly innovative and elegant designs. The "Tutti Frutti" collection took inspiration from Indian Maharaja jewels, and thus brought together brilliant carved gemstones with an Art Deco style. This era-defining combination has been highly sought after since the mid-1920s, and continues to be one of their rarest and desirable collections today. The magnificent "Great Cat" – panther and tiger jewels which have adorned legendary collectors such as Barbara Hutton, Elizabeth Taylor, and the Duchess of Windsor – is a truly iconic design, which has become the signature of the maison. Delving beyond the realms of wearable jewellery, Cartier’s bejewelled timepieces offer testimony to exquisite craftsmanship, combining luxurious jewellery settings, horological innovations, and sophisticated designs.

Cartier Collectible Jewels

King Edward VII once proclaimed Cartier the “jeweler of kings… and king of jewelers”. Since 1911, Jacques Cartier would travel around the world in search of the finest gemstones and pearls, and even persuaded the Maharajas of India to have their traditional jewels re-set in the popular Art Deco style of the 1920s. Throughout the decade, between Paris and London, a steady supply of gemstones would be transported daily to satisfy the royal and aristocratic commissions made by King George V and Queen Mary for their Cartier set royal jewels.

Highly collectable diamonds and gemstones are elevated into magnificent jewels in the hands of the French maison. Colombian emeralds are transformed when paired with tassels of seed pearls and briolette diamonds. Kashmir sapphires, boldly paired together as a toi et moi ring, are enhanced by their matching qualities. Burmese rubies, better known as the "king of gemstones" and the most collectable of coloured diamonds, a pair of brilliant-cut fancy deep pink diamonds are set with simplicity to highlight their natural appeal and collectability.

An homage to the jazz age, the Art Deco inspired bangle is a hallmark of luxury and glamour, joining rock crystal, a type of quartz which is celebrated for its ice-like allure, with the most phenomenal diamond. Lot 1744 features a 63.66 carat D colour, internally flawless diamond which is set amongst rock crystal in a bangle, creating a dialogue between two colourless gemstones – presenting true and subtle complements. Since the 1920s, rock crystal has been popularized by jewellers such as Louis Cartier who was considered a pioneer in his work with the material. Cartier utilized a polishing technique from the Renaissance period to give a soft shine to rock crystal, which when paired with a diamond creates an intriguing light effect, working in harmony yet providing texturized depth and modern contrast. American actress Gloria Swanson wore a similar geometric bracelet featuring rock crystal and diamonds to the 24th Academy Awards in 1951.

The innovative marriage of materials which may otherwise seem paradoxical is precisely the style of Cartier’s designs – full of imagination, flair, and immeasurable character.

Heritage of Jadeite

Jadeite is also known as "Myanmar jade" because the quantity and quality of the jadeite produced in the country is second to none. The gemstone can come in many colours, including green, violet, yellow, red, white, and black, but the most sought-after colour among collectors is "imperial green" found almost exclusively in Myanmar jadeite. “Imperial green” is richly saturated with a deep medium tone, slightly more yellow than a fine emerald green without any off-tones such as brown or gray, and no inclusions. The best examples should be highly saturated, slightly unctuous and penetrating, showing intensely even when viewed from a distance.

The best quality jadeite has a refined, smooth texture and excellent translucency. This kind of jadeite seems to diffuse light evenly within it, reminiscent of gentle ripples on a clear pool. A rare and valuable stone requires cutting and polishing before it can become a beautiful jadeite piece. Top-quality jadeites possess a dense structure, fine crystals, even color, high translucency and a depth that evokes a sense of tranquility. That soft radiance is one of the reasons why jadeite remains the most sought-after gemstone in China, by far, and highly sought-after around the world.

Exceptional Diamonds

Rough diamond production continues to show a downward trend after peaking in the mid 2010s. The Argyle mine was closed in 2020 after 35 years of operation, which has driven more interest in pink diamonds among collectors since are now rarer to find. As the demand for diamonds grow, with less natural diamonds available in the market, experts forecast that there will be a positive outlook in the global diamond industry.

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