You may think you know diamonds. Perhaps you’ve tried on your great-grandmother’s engagement ring or perused the counters at Cartier or Tiffany.
But nothing can prepare you for the experience of slipping on a rectangular-cut, 24.13-carat yellow diamond, flanked (naturally) on either side by a shield-shaped diamond and set in 18k gold and platinum. Rings like this are the stuff of legend. Surely Princess Grace or Princess Di or Princess Mia of Genovia wore such a ring? You stare at the enormous stones and the facets seem limitless; the refracted light, dazzling.
Perhaps the weight — the responsibility — of such a ring doesn’t appeal. Perhaps you’d prefer the look and feel of a David Webb hinged cuff made from carved jade with circular-cut diamond detail and set with cabochon rubies, emeralds and sapphires? Or a Jean Fouquet chloromelanite jade bracelet, designed as a series of octagonal-shaped pieces with white gold links?
These are not museum pieces trotted out for high-roller donors who want to play dress-up; they are, rather, offerings in a jewelry auction that will take place Oct. 15 at Christie’s New York headquarters at Rockefeller Center. It may feel a little un-princess-like to be forced to ponder price points, but if you are wondering:
According to the catalog, the price estimate on the David Webb cuff is $20,000 to $30,000, and $80,000-$100,000 for the Jean Fouquet bracelet. The estimate on that mesmerizing yellow diamond ring? That’s $490,000-$650,000, thank you very much.
That’s just how it is in the fine jewelry universe.
The estimate on a Boucheron diamond necklace (a series of circular-cut diamond drop-shaped interlocking links mounted in 18k white gold, is $80,000-$120,000. The price for a garnet, diamond and ruby ring by David Webb is estimated at $12,000-$15,000; a diamond watch from Van Cleef & Arpels, $35,000-$55,000; a pair of Graff diamond ear pendants (each suspending a detachable pear-shaped diamond pendant weighing approximately 5.55 and 5.18 carats), $650,000-$850,000.
About 80 pieces from the auction were on display on a recent Friday afternoon at Christie’s Beverly Hills, and similar viewings — open to the public — have been scheduled for Oct. 11-14 in New York. Leslie Roskind, senior specialist, jewelry department and senior vice president of Christie’s America, said the Oct. 15 event was the second of three jewelry auctions this year, with price estimates ranging from $10,000 to $5.5 million. Some of the pieces are signed (David Webb, Cartier, Verdura, Van Cleef & Arpels, Buccellati). Many others are simply anonymous and gorgeous.
The bidders and buyers, Roskind said, are global; they range from someone looking for an engagement ring to serious collectors.
If you’re curious about how those jewels are transported (they’ve already been on display in Geneva, Hong Kong, Dallas and Houston for similar preview viewings), you are probably going to be disappointed. A handsome-ish man in a suit standing in a Secret Service-type pose in the Beverly Hills office smiled and shook his head at a query. Perhaps only princesses are allowed to know.
If you’re thinking of bidding on Oct. 15, the "Magnificent Jewels" auction starts at 10 a.m. (lots 1-194) and at 2:30 p.m. (lots 195-392). Jewelry lovers may bid in person, on the phone or online.
One gentle reminder for the eager bidder: the price estimates are just that. Estimates. If you’re not a princess (and even if you are) you may have to bid up.