Press Release


By Sotheby's
And Positioned Sotheby’s as the Industry Leader in this Transformative Year

2020 Most Valuable Jewel

The Spirit of the Rose diamond sold for $26.6m

First World-Class Diamond Ever Auctioned Without Reserve

A 102.39-carat D Colour Flawless Oval diamond achieved $15.7m

New Sale Formats, New Auction Calendar, New Buy Now Marketplace

Sotheby’s reinvents itself and assumes a unique position in the Luxury industry

Benoit Repellin auctioneering the Spirit of the Rose - Sotheby's Geneva, 11 Nov. 2020 Sotheby's
From the record-breaking sale of a Cartier ‘Tutti Frutti’ bracelet to the first world-class diamond ever auctioned without reserve, and the landmark sale of the ‘The Spirit of the Rose’ diamond, the jewellery market has proved extraordinarily resilient this year. The unprecedented times have been a catalyst for change, mobilising all our imagination, creativity and digital capabilities to provide new, innovative ways to meet the growing global demand. We have launched new sale formats, a new auction calendar and a new buy now marketplace, allowing collectors to transact with us all year round, via our online platforms, in our salerooms, as well as in our new showrooms. 2021 will see this model further expand as we continue to cross new frontiers and pioneer new ways to celebrate jewellery.
Gary Schuler, Worldwide Chairman of Sotheby’s Jewellery Division

Below is a summary of the key highlights, innovations and change that have positioned Sotheby’s as the industry leader in this transformative year.

Industry-Leading Global Auction Sales total $310.5 million, up 8% on 2019

Growing global demand, with Asia at the forefront
· 82 countries from across the globe have taken part in our auctions
· Asian buyers contribute 50% of total jewellery sales
· 6 out of the 10 most valuable jewels sold this year went to an Asian client

Expanded Audience of Participants
· 35% of buyers new to the category, up 32% on last year
· Younger demographic: 30% of participants aged under 40

Online Market Transformation
Over 47 online sales realised $69.2 million – double the number of sales and almost 8 times the value for 2019

Confidence in Bidding Online Reaches New Heights
· Live auctions see 182% increase in value of bids places online
· 90% of the lots sold this year went to online buyers (vs 44% last year)
· Highest value bid ever placed on a jewel online: HK$ 85m / US$ 11m for a 102.39-carat “perfect” diamond sold in Hong Kong in October

Sotheby’s Mobile App: Jewellery is one of the most popular categories on the app
· Highest bid placed on the app: US$ 3.8m for a 12.38-carat pear-shaped fancy pink diamond ring (here)
· Highest number of app bids placed on a jewel: 29 for a jadeite, spinel and diamond ring (here)

Fresh Innovative Sale Formats and Expanded Sales Channels

New sale formats introduced this year: weekly auctions; single-lot sales to highlight the most special items (such as the record-breaking Cartier ‘Tutti Frutti’ bracelet and the 102.39-carat diamond, see p.3-4).

Earlier this month, Sotheby’s officially launched the Buy Now marketplace, a new platform to connect collectors with beautiful objects easily and quickly across the categories of fine jewels, contemporary art, collectible sneakers, watches, designer handbags, decorative objects, interiors and more. Buy Now meets the demand of our clients to buy and sell beyond the traditional auction calendar, offering a 24/7, 365 access to an exceptional property mix of over 3,000 items.

Opening of new international gallery spaces this year with jewellery available for immediate purchase: Sotheby’s East Hampton gallery opened in the summer, followed by the launch of a 2,700 square foot gallery in Palm Beach last month. In September, a showroom also dedicated to direct purchases, was opened in our London New Bond Street galleries. The opening of the new spaces complements the activities of Sotheby’s Diamonds in New York, London and Hong Kong.


Exceptional diamonds, coloured gemstones and jadeite set new benchmarks

Most Valuable Jewel sold this Year
World Auction Record for a Purple-Pink Diamond

The Spirit of the Rose
The world’s largest vivid purple-pink diamond ever to appear at auction
14.83-carat Fancy Vivid Purple-Pink Internally Flawless diamond
Sold for US$ 26.6m (CHF 24.4m) in Geneva in November. More here

With its size, beautiful colour, perfect cut and oval shape, it is a wonder of nature, steeped in Russia’s century-long diamond tradition and cultural heritage. The record-breaking price achieved is also testament to the growing awareness of the great scarcity of high-quality pink diamonds around the world, following the closure of the Argyle mine.
Benoit Repellin, Head of Sotheby’s Geneva ‘Magnificent Jewels’ auction

The First World-Class Diamond Ever Auctioned Without Reserve

A highly important 102.39-carat D Colour Flawless Oval Diamond
Sold for US$15.7m (HK$121.6m) in Hong Kong in October. More here

This extraordinary gem needed no help from a pre-sale estimate or reserve to reach its rightful price – just the instinctive desire of collectors to own one of the earth’s greatest treasures.
Patti Wong, Chairman of Sotheby’s Asia

Strong Results for white diamonds more broadly: 94% of the white diamonds offered in our Magnificent Jewels auctions since October sold, with almost 80% of them achieving prices above their high estimate.

Coloured Gemstones high in demand

Extraordinary Jewels from the Collection of Cecile Zilkha
Emerald and Diamond Ring, Cartier, set with a 21.86-carat emerald of Colombian origin
Sold for $3,650,000 in New York in December. More here

Ruby and Diamond Ring designed and mounted by FORMS
Set with a 6.41-carat unheated Burmese ‘Pigeon Blood red’ ruby
Sold for US$2.8m (HK$22m) in Hong Kong in October. More here

Ruby and Diamond Ring designed and mounted by FORMS Set with a 6.41-carat unheated Burmese ‘Pigeon Blood red’ ruby Sotheby's
Buoyed by the connoisseurship nature of the market and a growing appreciation of the subtleties and rarity of the “big three” heritage coloured gemstones, Colombian emeralds, Burmese rubies and Kashmir sapphires continued to be highly sought after.
Quig Bruning, Head of Jewelry, New York

Revival of the Fine Jadeite Market
Imperial Green Jadeite Bead, Ruby and Diamond Necklace
Sold for US$ 10.4m (HK$ 80.7m) in Hong Kong in July. More here

Top quality jadeite has always been sought after in Asia, but more recently, interest from outside Asia has considerably increased, with almost 30 percent of jadeite lots sold to non-Asian buyers in the past three years. This is reflected in the strong prices achieved in our Hong Kong sales throughout 2020. The growing global demand is also encouraged by an international grading system that distinguishes the finest jadeite as “imperial jadeite.
Wenhao Yu, Deputy Chairman, Jewellery, Sotheby's Asia


Provenance and quality combine to set prices soaring

Colombian emerald and diamond parure, circa 1770
Formerly in the collection of the first Marquis de Guirior (1708-1788), Viceroy of New Granada and Viceroy of Peru
Sold for US$ US$1.1m (CHF 988,000) in Geneva in November. More here

Emerald and Diamond Ring, Cartier, set with a 21.86-carat emerald of Colombian origin Sotheby's

Princess Margaret’s 21st Birthday Bracelet
Antique Diamond and Enamel Bracelet, Garrard & Co.
Sold for US$209,700 (HK$1.6m) in Hong Kong in July. More here

Antique Diamond and Enamel Bracelet, Garrard & Co. Sotheby's


Pursuing a series of collaborations with cutting-edge designers, Sotheby’s Diamonds - the retail boutique specialising in the world’s finest diamonds – unveiled in September a capsule collection designed by accomplished young designer, Nicolas Lieou. More here

Nicholas Lieou for Sotheby's Diamonds - Reishi Edge Earrings Sotheby's

Available for download here


London | Marie-Béatrice Morin |

Hong Kong | Agnes Yung |

New York | Amanda Bass |

About Sotheby’s

Sotheby’s has been uniting collectors with world-class works of art since 1744. Sotheby’s became the first international auction house when it expanded from London to New York (1955), the first to conduct sales in Hong Kong (1973), India (1992) and France (2001), and the first international fine art auction house in China (2012). Today, Sotheby’s has a global network of 80 offices in 40 countries and presents auctions in 10 different salesrooms, including New York, London, Hong Kong and Paris. Sotheby’s offers collectors the resources of Sotheby’s Financial Services, the world’s only full-service art financing company, as well as Advisory services for collectors, museums, corporations, artists, estates and foundations. Sotheby’s presents private sale opportunities in more than 70 categories, including three retail businesses: Sotheby’s Wine, Sotheby’s Diamonds, and Sotheby’s Home, the online marketplace for interior design.

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* Estimates do not include buyer's premium or overhead premium. Prices achieved include the hammer price plus buyer's premium and overhead premium and are net of any fees paid to the purchaser where the purchaser provided an irrevocable bid.

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