Fine Jewellery
7 Dec 2017
London, New Bond Street

A collection of extremely rare Fancy Vivid Yellow diamonds with a provenance steeped in world-class diamond history became the subject of a fierce bidding war at Bonhams London Fine Jewellery sale this week (7 December 2017) before they sold for a total of £577,750.

Achieving higher than expected prices, the Fancy Vivid Yellow diamonds hail from the Cullinan family. This was the first time the coloured diamonds have come to auction.

The star performer of the sale was A Fancy Coloured Diamond and Diamond Brooch, set with three step-cut Fancy Vivid Yellow diamonds, weighing 5.29, 3.11 and 2.37 carats, which sold for £452,750 to an online buyer, surpassing the pre-sale estimate of £200,000-300,000.

In addition, A pair of Fancy Coloured Diamond and Diamond Earclips, sold for £125,000 against an estimate of £50,000-80,000. The brilliant-cut Fancy Vivid Yellow diamonds weighed 2.08 and 1.93 carats respectively.

Jean Ghika, Bonhams Director of Jewellery for UK & Europe, said: "The Fancy Vivid Yellow diamonds in this collection are exceptionally well matched in colour and boast an enviable provenance. They were extremely popular in our previews in London, New York and Hong Kong and were highly sought after by a number of our discerning clients. I'm delighted they performed so well in the sale."

The diamonds were acquired in 1940 during a train journey when the present owner's father-in-law, R.V. Cullinan, son of the famous South African diamond magnate Sir Thomas Cullinan, asked his friend General Pierre De Villiers, a director of De Beers, to buy him some diamonds on his next visit to Kimberley. On the train back from the De Beers mine at Kimberley, Sir Ernest Oppenheimer asked General De Villiers "What have you got this time?" The General retrieved a packet from his pocket and proudly showed Sir Ernest, who replied "I can do better than that" and showed the General a set of yellow diamonds. A deal was struck. The diamonds were then purchased by the General, who kept half, and the other half were given to R.V. Cullinan. These are the diamonds which were offered in the sale.

Other top performers in the sale included:

A Single-Strand Natural Grey Pearl Necklace, circa 1915, sold for £368,750, more than five times its pre-sale estimate of £50,000-70,000.

An Important Diamond Ring by Harry Winston, New York, circa 1968, which sold for £236,750 against its estimate of £180,000-250,000. The marquise-cut diamond, weighing 7.73 carats is F colour, VVS1 clarity. Part of the proceeds of the sale of this lot will be donated to the Women's Cancer Center at the European Institute of Oncology in Milan, Italy.

A Pair of Fancy Coloured Diamond, Diamond and Cultured Pearl Earrings, signed Cartier. The Fancy Intense Purplish Pink cushion-shaped diamonds, weighing 1.01 and 1.01 carats, each suspending a detachable drop-shaped cultured pearl and brilliant-cut diamond, sold for £156,250 against their pre-sale estimate of £100,000-120,000.

A Diamond Panel Bracelet, dated circa 1955, sold for £106,250 against its estimate of £80,000-100,000.

Signed jewellery remains eternally popular with collectors seeking finest examples

Pieces from Verdura, Cartier and Andrew Grima performed strongly in the sale which was taken by Matthew Girling, Bonhams CEO and Global Head of Jewellery. Highlights included:

A Black Jade and Gem-Set Cuff and Earclip Suite by Verdura. The wide black jade cuff is applied with cabochon emeralds and sapphires, half pearls and brilliant-cut diamonds. A pair of earrings finishes off the suite. This sold for £23,750 against its estimate of £12,000 - 15,000.

A Diamond-Set 'Grains de Café' Necklace by Cartier, circa 1955, sold for £47,500, more than five times its pre-sale estimate of £6,000-8,000.

An 18 carat Gold and Diamond 'Super Shell' Necklace by Grima, 1972, sold for £15,000.

Kashmir sapphires continue to achieve strong prices

Bonhams London saw sapphires originating from Kashmir performing extremely well. In particular, A Gold, Sapphire and Diamond Ring caught the eyes of buyers and finally went under the hammer for £83,750, exceeding its estimate of £60,000-80,000. The cushion-shaped sapphire, weighing 3.89 carats, is accompanied by a report from SSEF stating that the sapphire is of Kashmir origin, with no indications of heating.

Jean Ghika, Bonhams Director of Jewellery, UK & Europe, said: "Buyers from 25 countries around the world participated in our final Fine Jewellery sale of 2017. Our results show that demand for fancy coloured diamonds, white diamonds, natural pearls and signed jewellery is as strong as ever."

  1. Jean Ghika
    101 New Bond Street
    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
    Work +44 20 7468 8282
    FaxFax: +44 20 7499 5364

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