At Bonhams rare Jewels & Jadeite sale this month, a rare haul of precious jewels visits Hong Kong. It includes sought-after fancy coloured diamonds, vintage pearls, Colombian emeralds, Burmese rubies and Kashmiri sapphires, fashioned into the range of delectable rings, earrings and necklaces on offer in the 120-lot sale, with estimates starting as low as HK$30,000.
The undoubted star of the show is a diamond-encrusted dress ring by Taiwanese jewellery maven Cindy Chao, which is estimated to fetch HK$8-$10 million, with a ravishing fancy pink-purple oval-cut diamond weighing 4.23 carats at its centre. Surrounding that central stone is a ribbon design of sweeping, scooping, sculptural forms, delicately pavé-set with brilliant- and cushion-cut diamonds. The granddaughter of one of Taiwan’s leading architects and daughter of a renowned sculptor, Chao has carved out a reputation for jewellery that combines sumptuous opulence with incredibly detailed, intricate craftsmanship as it mimics the forms of nature with startling fidelity; her fans include Li Bingbing, Shu Qi and Katie Holmes.
Diamonds also star on an equally innovative ring from coveted British jewellery designer Stephen Webster. With an estimate of HK$1.5-$2.2 million, it showcases a 10.03-carat, E colour, VS2 clarity brilliant-cut diamond surrounded by an openworked thunderbolt frame of pink diamonds, along with further brilliant-, baguette- and marquise-cut diamonds.
A legendary name from the high-jewellery world, Harry Winston, brings a riot of rubies and diamonds to the sale in the form of a necklace featuring 33 Burmese cabochon rubies weighing 160 carats, along with a further 60 carats of brilliant-, pear- and marquise-cut diamonds. The signed piece is expected to sell for HK$1.8-$2.8 million.
A giant, 17.33-carat, oval-cut Burmese sapphire mounted by Bulgari forms the centrepiece of a dramatic ring at the sale. Estimated at HK$2.9-$3.9 million, the ring positions the sapphire between crescent-shaped diamond shoulders.
The early 20th century was a special time in jewellery-making history, when many of the art’s most memorable creations came into being. With a reputation for the excellence and detail of its craftsmanship, jewels from the era are particularly in demand among knowledgeable collectors, so there’s particular interest in a historic piece on sale at the Bonhams auction – a pair of Colombian emerald and diamond pendant earrings that date from about 1920. In a distinctively early 20th-century style, the earrings are each set with a step-cut emerald weighing about 3 carats, and are expected to fetch HK$1.3-$1.6 million.
These vintage earrings are joined by a complementary creation, a Colombian emerald and diamond necklace by Harry Winston, which comes with an estimate of HK$1.9-$2.5 million. Colombia produces the world’s most sought-after emeralds, and here examples weighing 6.72, 4.52 and 3.70 carats are surrounded by petals made of diamonds and a diamond chain.
It’s unusual to find a prized Colombian emerald of more than 10 carats coming to market, but an arresting 10.02-carat stone sits at the centre of an emerald and diamond ring, estimated to fetch HK$3.4-$4 million, is also on sale at the Bonhams auction. With a guarantee of no clarity enhancement, it sets the cushion-shaped emerald between shoulders made of trillion-cut diamonds.
The artistry of the early 20th century is again on display in a natural pearl and diamond necklace by Tiffany & Co that dates from 1910. It showcases 81 graduated round to off-round natural saltwater pearls with a cream body colour featuring pink overtones, the largest of them measuring 10.10mm. Accented by a single marquise-cut diamond weighing 2.97 carats, this rare example of a piece made entirely from perfect vintage natural pearls is expected to fetch HK$2-$3 million.
The forthcoming Bonhams auction featuring all of these pieces is, of course, of intense fascination to anyone with a love of unique, spectacular jewellery creations. But it should also be of equal interest to anyone with an eye on a good investment; according to the Q2 2017 edition of the Luxury Investment Index, published regularly by leading global property group Knight Frank, prices for luxury jewellery have risen by 142 percent over the past 10 years. As the auction house that sells more jewellery lots and holds more dedicated jewellery auctions each year than any other, Bonhams is positioned front and centre in high jewellery’s growth as an asset class.
For its Hong Kong sale the company’s CEO and group head of jewellery, Matthew Girling, is taking the auction. Check it out on November 26, at Bonhams’ showroom in Pacific Place, to discover more about fine jewellery’s investment potential – and its breathtaking beauty.