Published: April 24, 2001
NEW YORK CITY – On April 11 in Christie’s saleroom at Rockefeller Center, a rectangular-cut Burmese gem of 62.02 carats set a new world auction record for a sapphire when it sold under the hammer of International Head of Jewelry, François Curiel, for an astounding $3,031,000.
“This is the most marvelous sapphire I ever seen in my career as a jewelry specialist,” said Curiel.
Previously sold at an auction in Zurich in 1971 for $170,000, and again in 1988 for $2.8 million, the gemstone is the most expensive sapphire in the world, both per carat and as a single-stone. John D. Rockefeller Jr. purchased the gem from the Nizam of Hyderabad (1909-1971) in India in 1936. The Nizam was known for having assembled one of the most famous jewelry collections of the 20th century, which was recently sold to the Indian government. The stone, now mounted by Tiffany & Co., was acquired by a private collector from Asia.
In the same auction an extremely rare rectangular-cut diamond ring of 50.15 carats, D color and potentially flawless was sold for $3,636,000 to Laurence Graff, an international retail jeweler. This stone was included in a group of jewelry offered as a single-owner collection comprising a selection of important jewels from jewelers of the second half of the Twentieth Century. Exhibiting attention not only to the quality and size of this stone but also to its cut and composition of its setting, “La Favorite,” as it is called, embodies the extravagant personality of this American collector. The stone was found in the Kimberley district in South Africa, and when cut was exhibited at the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago.
The three-day sale of Magnificent Jewels totaled $21,424,830 and was 85 percent sold by value and 83 percent sold by lot.
Simon Teakle, Head of Jewelry for Christie’s Americas, commented that the total “shows an 11 percent increase in sales compared with the April sale of last year and demonstrates the confidence of the buyers in the international jewelry market.”
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