Sotheby’s mid-season jewelry sale Thursday fetched $10,535,820, the third consecutive time that the house’s normally demure February sale has notched a record total. The top lot was a 6.46-carat Tiffany & Co. diamond ring (pictured above) that sold for $560,500, almost four times its $150,000 high estimate. However, despite what would appear to be a frenzy for mid-range jewels, the one standout lot — a platinum 18-carat fancy purplish-pink diamond ring estimated to sell for $1.1-1.5 million — failed to find a bidder at its reserve price.
Failures at the top-end were erased by furious bidding for items with lower estimates — many hammered down hundreds of thousands of dollars above the originally projected prices. The pieces in the sale from the collections of Estée and Evelyn H. Lauder did especially well, as celebrity provenance often helps push up the price for jewelry.
But really — what’s behind this jump in the jewelry market? It seems like the major auction houses could sell costume jewelry for record prices in the current market (actually, Christie’s did during the Elizabeth Taylor sale in December 2011). ARTINFO will explore this question in a longer feature coming up soon, but suffice to say this 2012 Barclays report on so-called treasure assets sheds some light on the burgeoning demand for diamonds. To draw broad conclusions: women are gaining more wealth around the world, they are looking to put about 10 percent of that wealth into tangible assets, and they love jewels.
As a result, it’s not looking like the diamond craze is going to slow down anytime soon.
— Shane Ferro
(Image: Courtesy Sotheby’s)