Los Angeles–Bonhams $1.9 million spring auction of Gems, Minerals & Lapidary Works of Art, May 21 in Los Angeles, was highlighted by "Lost Love," a carved gem aquamarine, diamond, platinum and gold sculpture by award-winning, American goldsmith and jewellery designer Henry Dunay that brought $170,500. The object of art, handcrafted between 2005 and 2006, features a female figure entirely of 18K gold, embracing the aquamarine. Another lapidary work of art by Dunay, a rock crystal quartz and yellow gold mounted presentation bowl of a boat-shaped outline, carved from a single piece of flawless rock crystal quartz, also sold well in the sale, bringing $68,500.
Also of great importance in the sale was the Greer-Black-Prudhomme Dragster model, the first carved ruby scale-model of a dragster to ever be featured at public auction, that brought $146,500. It was modelled after the famed Greer-Black-Prudhomme Dragster, raced by Don "The Snake" Prudhomme, built by Kent Fuller and tuned by Keith Black. The model was carved by designer Luis Alberto Quispe Aparicio from solid panels of ruby, and is detailed with Obsidian tyres, a gold vermeil engine and a polished rock crystal wind screen.
Various opals sold well in the auction, including two from Lightning Ridge, Australia, such as a fine black opal with a pattern, "The Cathedral Window," reminiscent of the rays of sun coming through a cathedral stained glass window, that brought $86,500 - exceeding its estimate of $60,000-8,000; and a very fine black opal, displaying predominantly red play-of-color with spectral broad flashes of green, orange, yellow and blue, that sold for $68,500. Another of note was a magnificent jelly opal, "Heaven's Fire," from Magdalena, Mexico, featuring a light orange body colour and a stunning play-of-fire of predominantly red, orange, yellow and green, that took in its high estimate of $35,000.
The portion of the sale featuring Unmounted Gemstones & Exotic Gemstone Jewellery, including the "100 Carats Club," held many of the sale's star lots. They included a nearly-400 carat Yellow Beryl - of the "100 Carats Club" – from the Ukraine, featured in a Gemological Institute of America exhibition for more than three years, that brought $68,500; a large and exceptional 25.8 carat Spessartite Garnet of a deep orange hue from Burma, that sold for $62,500; and a superb 382.28 carat Spessartite Garnet and Gold necklace, featuring 90 cabochon spessartite garnets from Tanzania, originally purveyed by the renowned Idar-Oberstein house of Wild & Petsch, and mounted by well-known, Dallas society jeweller Carter Malouf, that realised $62,500. Also strong-selling from that portion of the sale was a cushion-shaped Fine Alexandrite from Sri Lanka, featuring a 90 percent colour change from purplish red incandescent light to bluish green in fluorescent light, that took in its high estimate of $35,000, and a 73.5 carat Natural Star Ruby with excellent polish, a rich purplish red colour and strong central asterism, from Burma, that achieved $35,000.
Further highlights included a large Gold Nugget from Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, featuring a warm buttery patina with rugged texture over the majority of its surface and worn smooth along one edge, that brought $116,500; an extremely rare Natural Saltwater Pearl from the Turban snail of the Sea of Cortez, with a strong pink and green orient and fine lustre, that sold for $62,500; and a very fine Heliodor Carving of a Frog by Eberhard Bank of Idar-Oberstein, Germany, that achieved $25,000, ahead of a $12,000-15,000 estimate.
Claudia Florian, Co-Consulting Director of Natural History at Bonhams, said of the sale's results, "The Lapidary Works of Art section was our strongest ever with 90% of the lots finding buyers. Fine-quality German carvings from private collections formed the core of this section and numerous items sold for 4 and 5 times their estimates. Yesterday's results have firmly established us as the market leaders in this area of collecting."
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 valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com