NEW YORK—On May 23, Bonhams hosted an inaugural auction purely focused on fantastic Gems, Minerals and Lapidary Works of Art—the first auction of its type ever to be conducted by an international auctioneer. Over the past several years, Bonhams gemologist and co-consulting Director of the Natural History Department, Claudia Florian, has witnessed a need for such a specialized auction increase, and the sale did not disappoint. Bonhams hosted strong online and international bidding, illustrating great strength in international collecting of large and rare gemstones.
At the core of the auction were two large liquidation properties, one being a collection comprised of more than 60 lots, which came from the de-accessioned property of a London dealer. With a 50-year career specializing in the sale of fine quality rubies, sapphires and spinels, this collection was sold as parcels sorted by size, and was nearly 100% sold, attracting designers and jewelers alike because of their beauty and enticing prices.
Another impressive performing section was the "100 Carats Club" which was 100% sold. Stones in this division of the auction are ones that may be too big to mount in jewelry, but attract attention as cabinet specimens. Leading the group was a German-cut stunning and immense peridot, which sold for $80,500 (pre-sale est. $70,000-80,000). Other large stunners were an impressive and prodigious Pink Tourmaline selling for $40,000 (pre-sale est. $30,000-40,000) and a very large checkerboard aquamarine selling for $23,750 (pre-sale est. $22,000-28,000).
Gems with gorgeous color continued to prove popular within the auction room. A rare Spessartite garnet sold for double its pre-sale estimate at $31,250 (pre-sale est. $16,000-20,000) and an intensely colored rose spinel sold for $18,750 (pre-sale est. $15,000-20,000). With these results, the color stone market proves to buoyant, with excellent clarity gem-grade stones performing beyond expectations.
There was spirited and competitive bidding for rare and natural pearls. Selling for $35,000, almost doubling its pre-sale estimate of $16,000-20,000, was a rare large natural white non-nacreous pearl from the "Giant Clam." This lot came from the salt waters of Vietnam and possesses an extremely symmetrical egg-form shape.
Great artistry was also found in the lapidary works of art section of the auction. The top lot of the sale was a ruby, obsidian and rock crystal quartz chess set titled "The Frog Prince." Inspired by the classic fairy tale of the Frog Prince, this unique chess set witnessed strong and spirited international bidding, ultimately selling for triple its estimate at an impressive $98,500 (pre-sale est. $30,000-35,000).
Another beautiful lot was a carved California tourmaline and 18k gold hummingbirds, titled "California Kolibri," which sold for $3,500 (pre-sale est $2,500-3,000). Also highlighting this section was the work of German artist Gerd Dreher. Dreher is a renowned carver who possesses the unique virtuoso of incorporating a number of natural gemstones in his work. His gemstone carving of a Mallard duck, which sold for $9,375, is a prime example of his masterful craftsmanship.
For the full auction results and to view the sale's catalog, please visit www.bonhams.com.
Julie Saunders Guinta
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and appraisal services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com