Have you ever considered the price you pay for not wearing a piece of jewellery? Whether tucked away in a drawer, stored in a vault, or perhaps even forgotten about entirely, the piece you no longer care for could hold great value for someone else — and bring you a welcome financial bonus.
There are of course many reasons to sell jewellery through Christie’s, and our specialists will evaluate your piece to help you make the best possible decisions. Every piece of jewellery has a story to tell. We asked our specialists to recount some of their most memorable experiences.
In early 1987, jewellery specialist François Curiel received a call from a banker in Iowa. The patriarch of a farming family had just passed away, leaving the farm, some property and a cache of small gems — another run-of-the-mill estate valuation, or so Curiel thought.
This was well before the age of mobile phones, and the heir to the small fortune could not be bothered with taking photographs, so Christie’s sent a specialist to look at the stones. The collection was fine, with various small-coloured diamonds including one tiny 0.95 ct reddish diamond, which was valued at $150,000.
Specialist David Warren balances a replica of the 0.95 carat red diamond that sold for $880,000 on 28 April 1987
‘When I finally saw the little red diamond I was in awe,’ recalls Curiel. ‘Of course red diamonds existed, but I had never seen one so intensely red. This was something truly special.’
The little red diamond was the star of Christie’s April 1987 auction in New York. ‘My adrenaline was pumping as I called the farmer to ask if he wanted to be on the phone at 5pm to witness history,’ explains Curiel. 'Call me after the auction,' the farmer said. 'I'll be milking the cows at 5. The diamond can wait, the cows won't.' As the farmer milked, the hammer came down at $880,000, or $920,000 per carat, which stood as the world record at auction for more than 20 years.
Assuming them to be little more than inexpensive beads, a Spanish client kept a necklace in a box on her dressing table for more than 20 years. To her enormous surprise, when specialist David Warren examined the strand it turned out to be a natural pearl necklace. When it sold recently it fetched £157,000.
An Englishwoman discovered a pendant lodged in the back of a chest of drawers she had inherited from her grandmother. Before giving the pendant to a charity shop, she decided to show it to our specialists.
Lalique. A fine Art Nouveau diamond, pearl and enamel pendant, formed as a pair of wings, with diamond detail and greenish grey enamel background, the central section carved with entwined figures amid swirling drapery, suspending a greyish-bronze baroque pearl, circa 1895. 8.5cm wide. Sold for £46,200 on 13 December 1989
The gold and enamel work, which featured a natural pearl drop, was signed by René Lalique and dated circa 1895. Estimated at £10,000 to £15,000, it sold for £46,200 — rather more than the dresser from which it had been so fortuitously retrieved, which sold for £800.
As she was preparing to sell her house and relocate, an elderly woman came upon a blue diamond her father had given her when she was in her twenties. She had never worn it and eventually it had been placed in a desk drawer and forgotten. Some 60 years later, she contacted Christie’s. When jewellery specialist Raymond Sancroft-Baker viewed the gemstone, he was speechless. It was 7.81 carats, a very large size for a good quality blue diamond. It sold for £2.6 million.
We were very excited by the opportunity to appraise a black pearl necklace owned by the wife of a high-ranking businessman who had worked in Mexico, one of the few places where natural black pearls are found. Upon testing, we confirmed that only seven of the pearls were genuine black pearls, and that the others had been treated. Even so, the necklace was worth £20,000. Had all the pearls been natural, it would have been worth millions.
A single-strand black cultured pearl necklace. Of 25 black cultured pearls, measuring approximately 16.00 to 15.00 mm, joined by a modified square-cut diamond barrel clasp, mounted in platinum, 16 ½ in. Sold for $18,750 on 16 June 2015
How do I consign with Christie’s?
Our specialists are passionate about jewellery of all kinds and periods and by all makers, and we treat each piece as though it were your most valuable asset — which it may turn out to be. The consignment process is easy and straightforward, and we will look after you every step of the way.
Simply call or email so we can begin a conversation — we return every phone call and answer every email. If we feel Christie’s reaches a market for your jewellery, we will ask for some photographs or we can see it in our offices, arrange a visit or assist with shipping.
Why should I consign with Christie’s and not another auction house?
Our heritage. Christie’s is currently celebrating its 250th anniversary, with a heritage built on expertise and integrity. We have been the global market leader in jewellery for 22 consecutive years, and our international team of experts is the best in the industry. Perhaps it’s time to share your stories and discover the real value of what you own. Trust Christie’s to bring the skills and passion to add the final, rewarding chapter.