“It’s like having a sculpture on your wrist,” says Jasmine Prasetio, Country Head in Indonesia of Sotheby’s, one of the world’s oldest auction houses. She is describing how it felt to try on the iconic 1928 Cartier Tutti Frutti bracelet for a few precious moments. The piece was one of the highlights of Sotheby’s October Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite Autumn Sale in Hong Kong.
Aged 37, Jasmine started with Sotheby’s as an intern in Singapore in 2004. She stayed there until 2009 and then moved to the Hong Kong office, as a specialist in Southeast Asian paintings. She took charge of Sotheby’s Indonesia in 2013.
Jasmine exudes a quiet charm. She is soft-spoken, incredibly smart and knowledgeable. In her work, she has seen and touched a lot of “national treasures” from around the world. Of the Tutti Frutti bracelet she says: “Jacques Cartier went to India and collected stones from the Mogul period. He matched the colours of emeralds, sapphires, rubies and onyx. The fact that it is hand-carved and that he blended all the gemstones together to create it, it’s painstakingly beautiful. I’ve been so fortunate, so blessed, that I can experience things like this as part of my work.”
Jasmine also talks about the 59.60k Pink Star diamond, a Fancy Vivid Pink Internally Flawless stone, which sold for US$71.2 million at Sotheby’s earlier this year. “It is indeed one of the most remarkable pieces of jewellery I’ve ever seen,” she muses. “It set the world auction record for any diamond or jewel and the highest price for any work sold at auction in Asia.
“I love jewellery. Well, who doesn’t? It represents culture and makes us feel beautiful. It’s a fashion statement, an art that you can wear, and it has an asset value. Jewellery is the perfect integration between art that nature has made and art that mankind makes.
“One of the most interesting things about jewellery is that it’s not only women who collect it,” she points out. “Men do as well. In fact, the tradition of collecting jewellery has been around for centuries. Take a look at the Mogul Empire in India in the 16th century. When we look at jewellery in macro perspective, the pieces are precious and unique. No two stones are completely alike, especially with gemstones like rubies. The perfect shade of red, known as pigeon blood, is really hard to find, even in Myanmar.”
Personally, Jasmine has no limit in terms of the kinds of jewellery she likes. “I do like statement jewellery,” she says. “I like necklaces and earrings. It’s very subjective, of course, because there’s beauty in everything. Above all, there’s one piece of jewellery that has a special place in my life. My grandmother gave it to me when I was 12 years old. She’s the one who taught me about precious stones and crystal. She gave me an antique ring. It has a green diamond flanked with two rubies. It’s very small. I love it because it’s unique and has a history. I guess that’s one of the enduring charms of fine jewellery. It’s part of a legacy that you can pass on. It has an idea of heritage. You can have a little bit of the past and a memory of someone you love.”
How about buying jewellery as an investment? “It’s all about timing and opportunity,” says Jasmine. “Laurence Graff paid a record US$8.6 million for a Burmese ruby at Sotheby’s Geneva in 2014. He bought the 8.62k ruby for a second time, having acquired it first at an auction eight years ago for US$3.6 million and sold it for a profit. This is an illustration of how rare gemstones are so collectable.
“If you want to start collecting jewellery, always buy what you like. Second, be aware of what you’re buying: does it have a secondary market value? Buying a good brand is also an added value. Third, buy period pieces that are rare. Last, you have to be able to make your decisions in a timely manner. Like I said, it’s all about timing and opportunity. When the market is soft, that’s a good time to buy. And if you have the opportunity to buy, why not buy?”
Photography: Ronald Liem
Styling: Koko Namara
Hair: Roni Ronche
Shot on location: Zeus Studio