S otheby’s is pleased to present Magnificent Jewels: Part I in a live auction format featuring a colourful curation of gemstones and coloured diamonds. Led by ‘The Carmine Rose’, an 8.08 carat ‘pigeon blood red’ Ruby and Diamond Ring and a 9.66 carat Sapphire and Diamond Ring Designed by Nicholas Lieou, the rainbow is complete with coloured diamonds ranging from Fancy Red to Fancy Vivid Pink, Blue, Bluish Green and Yellow. Alongside the rainbow of jewels, a fine selection of antique signed jewellery such as a Diamond Necklace, 1910 and a Diamond Tiara/ Necklace, 1930 both by Cartier seamlessly complement modern, iconic signed jewels by household names such as Van Cleef & Arpels, showcasing the iconic Mystery Set™ patented technique. Finally, an extraordinary ‘Imperial Green’ jadeite bead necklace presents itself in translucent, saturated fashion, completing the Spring Magnificent Jewels: Part I auction in Hong Kong.
“There are connoisseurs of blue, just as there are connoisseurs of wine…”
This spring we are delighted to introduce the Season of Blue, celebrating one of the most beloved hues throughout history. Wassily Kandinsky, as one of the founding members of the group of artists known as the Blue Rider, once wrote: ‘The deeper the blue the more it beckons man into the infinite, arousing a longing for purity and the supersensuous’. Voted as the favourite colour of both men and women worldwide, the unequalled popularity of blue has endured for millennia. From Tutankhamun’s lapis lazuli-encrusted mask, to the unmistakable works of Yves Klein, blue has been a constant source of inspiration.
In nature, blue is inextricably associated with the rare and the magnificent, such as the birds of paradise, tropical butterflies, and peacocks. In the world of gemstones this captivating hue carries on its legacy through a myriad of varieties, including sapphires, Paraíba tourmalines, aquamarines, apatites, turquoise, lapis lazuli and many more. One of the newest discoveries on minerals in the 21st century was also a blue variation of a chalcedony, which is now named aquaprase.
The most important gemstone that celebrates the blue hue this season is the De Beers Blue. A truly phenomenal fancy vivid blue step-cut diamond weighing 15.10 carats, it is the biggest of its kind that has ever been offered in auction, with an internally flawless clarity. It is also the largest of step cuts with the color and clarity grading that GIA has seen to date. The colors of the purest blue are endlessly reflected through the long facets, which is a wonderful sight to behold.
From gemstones to jewels, there are a variety of shades of blue to be admired in our curation. A number of exceptional sapphires from Kashmir and Burma encapsulates the finest hues of royal to cornflower blue seen from the best of corundum. Two jewels from the house of Van Cleef & Arpels showcase the beauty of sapphires through serti mystérieux, each designed as a sycamore leaf and a fairy by the river. A beautiful pair of Paraíba tourmaline earrings show the signature neon blue that traces of copper brings to these tourmalines. The highlight of this curation is a three-carat fancy vivid blue diamond ring adorned by chalcedony and diamonds, with an internally flawless clarity and a fine clear hue.
Flora and fauna have long been inspirations for various forms of adornment since time immemorial. Some of the earliest known examples of jewels from the Sumerians date back to the third millennium B.C., including those with botanical motifs inspired by willow leaves and flowers. These serve as evidence to the earliest influences found in the immediate environments to decorate and celebrate the body. Throughout generations and cultures these appropriations evolved over time to hold various symbolic meanings, and sometimes even with apotropaic significance and magical importance. One of the most recent exhibitions on a similar topic was held by the American Museum of Natural History, titled Beautiful Creatures: Jewelry Inspired by the Animal Kingdom.
Since the early days at the house of Cartier, the designers took various inspirations from mother nature to immortalize some of the most well-known animals and plants through fine jewellery. This season we have several lots offered from the Maison that showcase these dramatic narratives. Lots 1833 and 1839 both take its form from the panther, one of the iconic muses of Cartier. Well loved by famous patrons such as the Duchess of Windsor and Daisy Fellows, the panther collection has been wildly popular ever since its debut in the early 20th century by Jeanne Toussaint. The first double panther-head hinged bangle was originally commissioned by Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan in the 1950s, embellished with diamonds, sapphires and emeralds. A similar example of a bracelet akin to lot 1833 appears in the Cartier Panthère 美洲豹book by Bérénice Geoffroy-Schneiter. Lot 1853 and 1874 are inspired by the whimsical cockatoo and a panda, beautifully designed to be worn as a ring and as a bracelet-watch.
Lot 1838 originates from the Caresse d'Orchidées collection, as Cartier takes the orchid as the key element of their artistic expression. First used in the 1920s by the Maison as a figural motif and one of Toussaint’s favorite flowers, this collection continues on its legacy of the orchid when it was revealed in New York, 2005. Based on a contemporary interpretation of the floral theme, some of the pieces took up to 2,250 hours to produce from the jeweller’s studio. Likely a unique necklace from the collection, the jewel is adorned with sumptuous briolette diamonds and Burmese rubies, embracing the spirit of Cartier.
This beautiful Cartier diamond tiara from the 1930s was originally owned by the late Lady Smith, wife of Sir John Smith. He was a well-known banker and philanthropist who was prominent for many decades in heritage organisations which were dedicated to saving outstanding British architecture. His wife Christian Carnegy was the daughter of a Henderson and her youth was spent in Angus, Scotland, after which she read English at St Anne’s College, Oxford. With a shared passion for art and heritage, the couple founded the Landmark Trust. Sir John became the Member of Parliament for Westminster in the 1970s. Inherited from her mother, Lady Smith wore this tiara as a form of a necklace on grand occasions held for the Queen at the Buckingham Palace, as well as several State Openings of Parliament and State Banquets. Another important example of a Cartier tiara made in the 1930s is a lotus blossom motif jewel, also decorated fully with diamonds. It was purchased by the Aga Khan for Her Highness the Begum Aga Khan in 1934. Wonderfully adorned as a graduated series of palmette and arrow-head motifs, the tiara can be worn in a few different ways, including a necklace as well as a brooch using the central panel.
“…the most sought after colour is a deep, emerald green colour referred to as “imperial green” which is found nearly exclusively in the jadeite-jade deposits of Myanmar (Burma). Unlike the usual sparkle of a cut gemstone, jade has a distinct glowing effect, caused by the gem’s translucency. The light is caught within the stone and reflected back in an even manner. A matched set of forty-three natural jadeites…possesses evenly saturated green colouration, referred to as “imperial green”, combined with the high translucency as well as their very fine texture. Such a combination of characteristics makes this set of green jadete necklace a piece of outstanding beauty and importance.”
Jade is one of the most celebrated minerals throughout the history of mankind, which also played an indispensable role in Asian culture. From ritualistic objects to royal adornments, jade has been long cherished as a heavenly gemstone. The term jade has been used to describe both nephrite and jadeite, both valued for different aspects of their beauty. Jadeite is the rarer gem however, which is highly sought after when it possesses the best colour and translucency – named the Imperial Green type in the trade. This vibrant green is viewed as a symbol of vitality and longevity, with the finest crystals displaying optical properties as if light was glowing from within. This is due to the tight interlocking crystals in the jadeite’s structure and an absence of impurities such as veins and clouds.
Cherished as one of the most coveted symbols of jadeite jewellery, jadeite bead necklaces have adorned some of the most powerful and influential individuals throughout the years. In 2014, Sotheby's had the privilege of auctioning the Hutton-Mdivani jadeite necklace from Cartier, which is considered one of the most important pieces of jadeite jewelry in history. It achieved US$27.4 million at the time and stands as the auction record for any piece of jadeite jewelry and for a piece of Cartier jewelry. Now as a part of the Cartier Heritage collection, the necklace has been featured in multiple publications and exhibitions.
This fine necklace consists of fourty-three beads in total, graduating from 14 to 12mm in size. Each bead boasts a uniform colour and texture, a feat that can only be achieved by carving from a same source of rough material. This is exceptionally rare as more than half of the original stone can be lost in an attempt to carve out the finest spheres that are matching in size and hue. Most beads of such quality are usually 10-5mm in size, which is significantly smaller than the one offered this season. To have more than fourty beads of such impressive size overall would signify that the artisans that handled the original material did not hesitate to sacrifice the rough in order to perfect the quality of the beads. This is evident through the seamless, symmetrical gradient that this unique necklace possesses.