15 July 2014

On the Block: Royal and Noble Jewels at Sotheby's

It's that time again, magpies: my own personal Christmas list, the jewelry sale catalogue from Sotheby's, has landed. Tomorrow, the auction house will offer two sessions of fine jewels in London, and there are some intriguing pieces attributed to royals and nobles among the lots. Enjoy a bit of sparkly dreaming -- or, for the secret millionaires lurking among you readers, get out your credit card and get bidding!

Okay, so they're not those coronation jewels -- economic times aren't quite that hard in Britain. But Sotheby's is auctioning off paste reproductions of three of pieces of jewelry central to British coronations: St. Edward's Crown, Queen Victoria's coronation ring, and Queen Mary's crown. Curiously, the catalogue does not explain exactly why these replicas were made (or who is selling them), although it does note that all three pieces date to the 1950s and that several sets of replicas of the regalia were made to be exhibited throughout the Commonwealth. Auction estimate for the three pieces is set at between $4,000 and $8,000.

Being offered by a "member of a royal family," this lot includes a very modern bracelet of calibré-cut sapphires and a coordinating calibré-cut sapphire and diamond ring. No statement on when the pieces were made or by whom. Auction estimate: between $5,000 and $8,500.

Another large ring with gemstones, this lot comes from "a royal private collection." It features a cat's-eye chrysoberyl surrounded by baguette and brilliant-cut diamonds. Buyers are expected to shell out between $5,000 and $7,000.

Also from "a royal private collection," this lot includes four bangle bracelets set "with pear- and marquise-shaped sapphires, rubies, emeralds and diamonds and brilliant-cut diamonds." It's expected to fetch between $16,000 and $25,000.

Once in the collection of "a lady of title," this nineteenth-century tiara features three diamond floral elements linked by diamond leaves. The flowers are set en tremblant, and like many tiaras of this era, it can be worn in multiple ways. Just check out the list of things that you get if you purchase this piece: a "fitted case, accompanied by three tiara frames, five hair pin fittings, four brooch pins and five original drawings depicting the various combinations for the jewels to be worn as a tiara, necklace, aigrette, brooches and corsage ornament." Now that's what I call a jewel that pulls its weight. Whoever buys this piece will have to replace six missing diamonds, but the auction house still expects it to bring between $25,000 and $35,000.

Lots 412, 413, and 414: Indian Royal Jewels

According to the provenance notes for these three lots, they were once owned by a member of an Indian royal family, the Maharani Sita Devi Sahib of Baroda. The lots include a cigarette case with the Baroda coat of arms embedded in diamonds, a turquoise and diamond ring made in the 1960s by Van Cleef and Arpels, and a diamond evening watch from the same era by Piaget. The auction estimate for the three combined is roughly between $20,000 and $28,000.


There's also a whole slew of jewelry in the catalogue that is being offered by members of various unnamed noble families. That includes two seed pearl necklaces (lots 18 and 257), a rather fun gem-set and diamond necklace (lot 205), a natural pearl and diamond pendant (lot 243), a ruby and diamond pendant and a set of enamel cuffs (lot 417), a '40s-era ruby and diamond bracelet and ring (lot 339), a diamond watch and a set of diamond ear clips (lot 188), a pair of pearl, diamond, and enamel pendant earrings (lot 460), a nineteenth-century enamel and hardstone intaglio brooch (lot 47), and an onyx and diamond vanity case (lot 306). Also, there's a Repossi ring that possibly once belonged to Mohamed al Fayed, if that's your kind of thing.

Along with these royal and noble pieces, there's also much more sparkle being auctioned, including some fabulous amethyst pieces and an intriguing garnet parure. If you're bored over lunch today, have a gander at the online auction catalogue -- it's a lovely way to spend an hour!