Christie’s 2007 Jewelry Sales +11% to $395M
It was no surprise that Christie’s jewelry sales increased 11 percent in 2007 to $394.7 million considering how hot the auction markets have been in the past 12 months. But the rate of growth was much lower than the 27 percent increase in sales registered for 2006.
Annual results for jewelry sales hit a record at Christie’s nonetheless. “This [past] year saw many milestones in the jewelry auction market,” said François Curiel, Christie’s chairman of jewelry.
“The magical barrier of $100,000 per carat was regularly broken for top colorless diamonds, while colored diamonds often sold for over $1 million per carat,” he said. The booming marketplace for jewelry was fed by collectors in Russia, China, and the Middle East. There was also a major geographical re-alignment, as Hong Kong established itself firmly alongside Geneva and New York as a key international sale centre for exceptional jewels.
Natural pearls, diamonds (both colored and colorless,) Kashmir sapphires and contemporary jewels performed very well in 2007,breaking records on a scale that seasoned collectors could never imagine.
Christie’s reported another change in 2007–there was a profound transformation in how auctions are marketed, with the arrival of new players from emerging markets, and the way they are conducted, with the introduction of Christie’s LIVEtm.
Christie’s has been investing heavily, with exhibitions and auctions in Dubai, China, Russia and the Ukraine, as well as new technology. A parallel development has been the strong increase in private sales. Several major gemstones were negotiated this way, in response to a growing demand for a service that offers access to precious stones unknown to the public, often straight from the mines.
Geographic highlights from the year included a 7.5 percent increase in revenues from Asia ($86.4 million.) With only two sales per year, the Asian results were the strongest on record. The November sale totaled $47.3 million, making it the largest jewelry auction ever staged in Asia. This represents an increase of 14 percent above spring 2007 and 21 percent higher than autumn 2006. The most expensive jewel sold in Asia was a diamond briolette of 31.92cts, D color, Flawless, which went for $3,208,324.
“With sales of $86.4 million and 21 lots fetching over $1 million in just two auctions, Christie’s Hong Kong has become the vibrant hub for jewelry in Asia. Jadeite saw a remarkable resurgence, while colorless and rare colored diamonds, as well as precious stones, realized some of the highest prices achieved worldwide throughout the year,” said Vickie Sek, director of jewelry and jadeite for Christie’s in Asia.
In the Americas, revenue rose 8.8 percent to $120.1 million. The historic Baroda Pearls became the most expensive jewel sold at auction in the United States when they were purchased by an Asian collector for $7,096,000-a world auction record for any pearl jewel. An exceptional 22 carat Kashmir sapphire that fetched $3,064,000 became the most expensive sapphire in the world. The price of $135,000 per carat is a world record for any sapphire, topping the previous benchmark of $49,000 set at Christie’s New York in 2001.
“The market continued to show immense confidence in superb diamonds and important gemstones. At the same time, 2007 marked a turning point for jewelry sales at Christie’s in the U.S. and at Christie’s worldwide where original design, rarity and provenance proved to be just as important as the quality of a gem,” said Rahul Kadakia, director of jewelry for Christie’s Americas.
Sales rose 14 percent in Europe to $186.8 million with London posting its best year ever at $47.2 million (up 19.2 percent.) In June at King Street, a greyishblue diamond of 7.81 carats fetched $5,110,312, setting at the time a world record for a blue diamond per carat at $655,480/ct.
“The $3 million sale of the collection of Princess Maria Gabriella di Savoia, together with several major diamonds, has confirmed London’s position as a pre-eminent center for outstanding jewelry,” said Raymond Sancroft-Baker, director of jewelry for Christie”s Europe.
Highlights from Geneva included a fancy purplish-red diamond of 2.26 carats acquired by Laurence Graff for $2,667,567, a world auction record for a red diamond. There were also several major noble private collections and historic Russian jewels that doubled or even tripled their original estimates. “Collectors showed ever-growing interest for signed jewelry and historical pieces, from the Fürstenberg and Donnersmarck collections to a pair of ear-pendants once part of The Imperial Russian Jewels and the pearl ring mounted by Cartier for the Duchess of Windsor,” said Eric Valdieu, director of jewelry for Christie’s Switzerland.
The year 2007 is being called the birth of Dubai as a new auction center by Christie’s. Sales debuted at $28.3 million. Following the success of its inaugural sale of contemporary jewels and watches in January, a second auction was held in November which drew buyers from not only the region, but also southeastern Asia, Russia, Europe and the Americas. “Dubai is all about dynamic sales of high value prestige jewels and watches. Our auctions offer collectors a special focus on top contemporary designers like Lorenz Bäumer, Viran Bhagat and Carnet, as well as classics from the likes of Boucheron, Bulgari, Cartier, JAR, Van Cleef & Arpels and Harry Winston, with unique gemstones and limited edition watches proving very popular. In our first year of sales in this vibrant new market, we are already witnessing an average lot value of over $100,000 with five lots surpassing the $1 million mark,” said David Warren, director of jewelry for Christie’s Dubai and London.
Christie’s presided over the sale of many noteworthy collections:
–Royalty led the London June auctions with the collections of HRH Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia and HRH Princess Maria Gabriella di Savoia, which included a diamond tiara by Faberge that realized $2,071,388-an auction record for a tiara.
–In October in New York, Christie’s presented Magnificent Jewels from a Distinguished Private Collection, a separate single-owner catalogue of 40 superlative jewels. The collection was particularly strong in fine examples by the “King of Diamonds” Harry Winston, including a very important rectangular-cut, D color, VVS2 Type IIa diamond ring of 23.14 carats that fetched $2,617,000. The collection was 100 percent sold and totaled $8.8 million.
–Historic jewels took center stage in Geneva in November with two private princely collections: Princess Katharina Henckel von Donnersmarck (1862-1929) and Princess Cecil Amelia von Fürstenberg (1919-2006.) Both were 100 percent sold for more than $4 million each.
–The November Hong Kong auction included one of the most important collections of jewelry to ever be offered in Asia. The centerpiece was a rare three-strand jadeite bead necklace which sold for $2,272,844.
Looking ahead, Christie’s sees that diamond prices will continue to rise–both colored and colorless–and will be the “show stoppers” during the year. Due to the great demand for colored diamonds of top quality, each of the rare gems offered at Christie’s also drew tremendous interest in 2007, which is a trend the auction house expects to continue.
Christie’s expects increased activity from the Middle East, Russia, and China: Alongside strong participation from “traditional” buyers in the United States and Europe.
As published on: