An Affair to Remember

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Haute London was abuzz with the recent auction of some of the world’s most rare and valuable pieces of vintage jewelry.

“Christie’s Jewels: The London Sale” featured 228 of the most coveted diamonds and vintage jewels by Cartier, Chaumet, Harry Winston, and Van Cleef & Arpels. The collection, comprised of exquisite diamond rings, bracelets, vintage necklaces and pearls, garnered more than $29 million dollars from a discerning clientele that included including major international buyers like Middle Eastern Private Equity, Graff Diamonds, UK Trade & Investment, and European Private Equity, to name a few of the key players.

In fact, according to Raymond Sancroft-Baker, senior European director of Christie’s Jewelry, in terms of sales, Christie’s shattered a record that had not changed in nearly 18 years. “New records were established not only for precious stones but also for opals and gold chains,” commented Baker. “The packed room saw a £15 million ($29.4 million) sale for the first time in UK jewelry auction history, breaking the previous record of £12 million ($21 million) set in June 1990.”

The London Sale featured jewelry fit for royalty; items ranged in price anywhere from £2 million to upwards of £2,200,000. Pieces like a spectacular 19th century antique diamond riviere—one of the largest and finest to be auctioned off in years—sold for £481, 250, while a breathtaking oval-shaped 36.65-carat Harry Winston sapphire and diamond necklace sold for £337,250. The striking collection also featured such notable pieces as a three-row brilliant- and baguette-cut diamond necklace by Van Cleef & Arpels, an impressive diamond corsage ornament by the much sought-after jeweler Chaumet, and beautiful antique brooches and pearls.

The highlight of the event, however, was undoubtedly the jewelry collection of Christina Onassis, daughter of former Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis. As the heir to a glamorous name and fortune, an habitué of the most discerning social circles, and a woman who constantly redefined the word “haute” with her often decadent lifestyle, it is no surprise that the eminent Onassis accumulated an impressive jewelry collection. Her pear-shaped 38-carat D color nearly flawless diamond, which is worn on a necklace, sold for £3,625,250. Meanwhile, her rare jade-colored, gem-set bowenite Buddha by Carl Fabergé (which once graced Onassis’ capacious yacht) sold for £1,273,250.

June 11 was a magnificent day for Christie’s and its prestigious clientele; while Christie’s made UK history with record-high sales, a few lucky buyers walked away with some dazzling jewels and a piece of history.

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