Senior International Director of Jewellery Tom Burstein on the upcoming Magnificent Jewels sale, which takes place on the exact date Christie’s sold its first jewellery 250 years ago
‘The December Magnificent Jewels auction in New York is always my favourite sale of the year,’ says Tom Burstein, Senior International Director of Jewellery. The auction, on 7 December, features highly sought-after Art Deco jewels from Cartier, invisibly set jewels from Van Cleef & Arpels and Oscar Heyman and a wide selection of diamonds and coloured stones to suit the tastes of all gemstone lovers. ‘There is something for everyone,’ Burstein promises.
Magnificent Jewels includes several private collections, including the Estate of Betsy Bloomingdale, the Collections of Robert and Sylvia Olnick, Anne Lichtblau and the Blair family, as well as an extensive group of Oscar Heyman jewellery from a Rancho Santa Fe collector.
From the Blair Family Collection, two Cartier brooches are particular standouts. ‘This wonderful long flower brooch that I love’ — a Diamond flower clip brooch, circa 1940 — and an Emerald and natural pearl clip brooch, circa 1942. ‘You can imagine these two long, tapered Cartier brooches even being worn together,’ says Burstein.
Additional highlights include invisibly set jewels, among them a Ruby and diamond flower brooch, by Oscar Heyman & Brothers. By the nature of its design, ‘one cannot see when looking at it how these rubies are held in place,’ explains Burstein — a technique that requires a high level of expertise from a master jeweller and stone cutter.
Another example, A pair of mystery-set sapphire and diamond ear pendants, by Van Cleef & Arpels, the inventor of this innovative technique, was featured in Christie’s historic auction of the Collection of Elizabeth Taylor. ‘The stories they could tell…,’ muses Burstein, speaking of the earrings once owned by the Hollywood icon.
Beautiful shell pins from JAR, a Fancy Intense Orangy-Pink diamond ring by Harry Winston and a 2.48-carat Kashmir sapphire ring — ’another great option for an engagement ring’ — are among other exceptional highlights.
The sale is also special for other reasons. ‘2016 has been an extraordinarily exciting and proud year for all of us at Christie’s because it marks our 250th anniversary,’ Burstein explains. ‘The Magnificent Jewels auction takes place exactly 250 years to the day from when the first piece of jewellery was offered for auction at Christie’s. It’s a celebration of the jewellery, a celebration of our clients, a celebration of the time of year.’
Viewing begins at our Rockefeller Plaza galleries in New York on 2 December.