Published: March 30, 2021
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Catalog Photos Courtesy Clars Auction Gallery
OAKLAND, CALIF. – Only 13 percent of Clars Auction Gallery’s March 20-21 sale was jewelry but it accounted for approximately $750,000 – or 43 percent – of the cumulative total of about $1,750,000. The weekend saw nearly 1,650 lots cross the block. The star lot of the category – and the sale – was an 8.58-carat very light blue diamond and platinum ring that soared past its high estimate after extensive competition on the phones to sell to a private American collector for $468,500.
“It was one of the best jewelry sales we’ve had in a long time,” said Clars’ chief executive officer and president, Rick Unruh, by phone. “March is generally not one of our better months but this outperformed our expectations; it was twice as good as the sale last March, which had been cataloged before Covid shut everything down. This was a record March sale for Clars.”
The ring was not marked and Clars’ jewelry director, Lauren Della Croce, did not know when it had been made. Those normal factors to value were overlooked, she said, commenting “the strength of that ring was the quality of the principal stone, in an incredibly rare light blue hue with VS2 clarity and no fluorescence.”
Quality also overrode a lack of marks for a 5.04-carat pear brilliant-cut diamond ring set in platinum over an 18K gold band that was also from a local private collector. It brought $87,500 and the second highest price in the sale, selling to another phone bidder from the United States. Another stone that Della Croce felt worthy of pointing out was a 1.54-carat round brilliant cut diamond that had been consigned from a local private collection and exceeded its high estimate and brought $16,250.
Unruh is also Clars’ fine art director and he was pleased with how several of the top fine art lots performed. Leading the category was “Canyon Nocturne” by Henrietta Berk (American, 1919-1990), which was making its second trip across Clars’ auction block, having been acquired there by the seller in 2013. Unruh said it sold to a phone bidder from California, for $17,500, nearly double its high estimate. Maurice Molarsky’s “Portrait of Pauline Viardot” had been acquired from another San Francisco auction house and Unruh was not sure if it would be staying in the area as it was purchased by an online bidder for $13,750. Rounding out the top three fine art results was a Northern European school painting of the Virgin Mary, done in oil on oak panel and possibly as early as the Fifteenth Century that Unruh said had several gallery labels on the back. It had come from a San Francisco Bay Area collection but Unruh said most, if not all, of the interest had come from Europe and it sold to a European buyer who had been bidding online.
A large collection of Native American basketry, with examples ranging from the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century had been in one Bay Area family since the early Twentieth Century. The collection of 19 lots brought a total of $59,656 and was led by an early Twentieth Century Yokuts storage basket that was described as “monumental” and measured 14½ inches high by 21 inches diameter. It ran to $10,625, selling to a California private collector who was bidding online.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house.
Clars Auction Gallery’s next auction will be an online-only two-day sale, currently scheduled for April 17-18.
For information, 510-428-0100 or www.clars.com.
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