On 8 December 2020, connoisseurs of magnificent jewels will have the opportunity to bid for this sapphire and diamond bracelet at Christie's in New York. A truly exceptional piece, it features an extremely rare Kashmir sapphire of 43.10 carats, cushion-cut and set in a bed of flawless diamonds.
Sapphires have always attracted huge interest in Christie’s global salerooms. Here we look back at some of the finest examples.
Sold for $3,031,000 in 2001
This rectangular-cut sapphire from Myanmar is the stone by which all other sapphires should be judged on size, shape, clarity and colour.
The sapphire also has notable provenance. It was purchased in 1934 by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. from the Nizam of Hyderabad, in a deal brokered by the jeweller Raymond Yard. In the 1940s Rockefeller asked Pierre Cartier of the eponymous French jewellery house to recut the stone into this unique shape and mount it for his wife, Abby.
Sold for CHF1,916,000 in 2003
This is the largest sapphire on our list, by quite some margin, and among the five largest sapphires in the world.
First recorded in Cartier’s workshop in 1913, this historic sapphire pendant necklace was famously worn by Queen Marie — granddaughter of Queen Victoria of Great Britain and Czar Alexander II of Russia — to the coronation of her husband King Ferdinand of Romania in 1922. In 1947 it was sold to New York’s ‘King of Diamonds’, Harry Winston. It then entered the collection of the Greek Royal Family before being auctioned at Christie’s in 2003.
Sold for $5,906,500 in 2011
Richard Burton gave this magnificent sugarloaf cabochon sapphire to Elizabeth Taylor on her 40th birthday in February 1972.
This superb necklace, weighing approximately 52.72 carats, was offered in The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor: The Legendary Jewels Part I in New York in 2011, achieving a world record price per carat for a Burmese stone at auction.
Sold for CHF16,965,000 in 2014
Known as the Blue Belle of Asia, this highly prized peacock-blue sapphire with excellent clarity and well-documented provenance is deemed the most valuable sapphire in the world.
There are very few sapphires weighing more than 350 carats, and this example, at approximately 392.52 carats, realised more than double its low estimate in the Christie’s Magnificent Jewels sale in Geneva on 11 November 2014, establishing a new world record for any sapphire sold at auction.
Sold for HK$116,537,500 in 2018
This exceptional necklace, set with 21 top-quality Kashmir sapphires carrying a total of 109.08 carats, took more than 15 years to complete.
The history of Kashmir sapphires begins in 1881, when a landslide in the Zanskar range of the northwestern Himalayas first revealed sapphire-bearing rocks. The majority of the world’s most beautiful and highly valued sapphires were mined from the region, including the present stones.
By 1887, Kashmir’s first sapphire mine had been exhausted and production ceased. As a result, gem-quality Kashmir sapphires are now extremely rare. With so many gorgeous sapphires in just one piece, the Peacock Necklace is one of the rarest items to have appeared at auction.
Sold for HKD19,300,000 in 2017
This extraordinary pinky-orange sapphire, known as a Padparadscha sapphire, comes from Sri Lanka — otherwise known as the Island of Gems. Its name derives from the Sinhalese for ‘aquatic lotus blossom’, and its pinky-orange colour from a combination of well-balanced trace elements in the gemstone.
Padparadscha sapphires are normally a salmon-pink colour, making this large orange-tinted example, which weighs over 28 carats, extremely rare.
Sold for HKD56,120,000 in 2016
The eight velvety-blue, cushion-shaped Kashmir sapphires on this Cartier bracelet graduate down in size from the largest in the middle, and are mounted in platinum between pavé-set diamonds.
Made in France in 1923, its clean, sleek lines and refined, angular appearance capture the essence of the Art Deco style.
Sold for HKD19,160,000 in 2015
The 2015 sale of this gemstone of Kashmir origin saw a new record for the highest price paid per carat for a sapphire at Christie’s. Its brilliant clarity had been confirmed the year before when scientific analysis at the SSEF (Swiss Gemmological Institute) certified that its sparkle was natural, and not as a result of heat treatment.
Its unusual circular-cut shape also helped it to soar at auction — as did its diamond-surround and the fact that it was mounted in an 18k gold ring.
Sold for CHF4,197,000 in 2013
Flanked by multi-coloured gems, this cushion-shaped sapphire, weighing approximately 58.29 carats, is set in a brooch designed by contemporary Asian designer Anna Hu.
Her work combines Eastern and Western influences, and is often inspired by classical music and nature, as well as by Impressionism and Art Nouveau. When it went under the hammer in Geneva in 2013, the Côte d’Azur brooch sold for almost double its low estimate.