They say diamonds are forever, but rubies have a similar quality and can also command sparkling prices.
This week a Burmese gem called the Sunrise Ruby sold for a world auction record of US$30.3 million. It was expected to fetch between $12m and $18m, according to Sotheby’s, which hosted its Magnificent and Noble Jewels auction in Geneva on Tuesday.
Set with diamonds, the extremely rare 25.59 carats piece is from the private collection of the jewellery house Cartier.
Undoubtedly the star of this week’s auction, the gem has a rare “pigeon’s blood” hue with the Swiss Gemmological Institute describing it as a “unique treasure of nature”, according to Sotheby’s.
“In over 40 years, I cannot recall ever having seen another Burmese ruby of this exceptional size possessing such outstanding colour,” said David Bennett, the worldwide chairman of Sotheby’s international jewellery division.
The last auction record for any ruby was $8.6m for a Graff ruby ring, set in November.
The Sunrise Ruby and other gems were showcased in the Katara Art Center in Doha in April and at a Sotheby’s jewels exhibition in Dubai in March.
Sotheby’s Magnificent and Noble Jewels auction achieved a total of $160.91m, the highest ever total for any jewellery auction, according to a Sotheby’s spokeswoman. The next edition of the biannual event will be held in November. At last year’s November auction, total sales of $95.27m were achieved.
The Cartier collection in Geneva also included a diamond necklace featuring a total of 190 carats of diamonds. The front of the necklace has a floral motif with nine pear-shaped stones. It sold for $7.24m – within its estimated price of $6m to $10m.
q&a gems dazzle the region
Sananda Sahoo reveals the finer details from Sotheby’s Magnificent and Noble Jewels auction:
What other rare jewels went under the hammer in Geneva?
The auction also featured a historic pink diamond, pearl earrings and diamond tiaras. The pink diamond ring is believed to be a part of the collection of Princess Mathilde Bonaparte, the niece of Napoleon I, according to Sotheby’s. It sold for $15.9m at the auction. It was expected to fetch an estimated $14m to $18m.
What was the response from Middle East buyers at the Geneva auctions?
“Since the early 1970s we’ve witnessed a healthy Middle Eastern appetite and appreciation for the finest diamonds and jewels, and now the region is one of the major markets in this field worldwide,” said David Bennett, the worldwide chairman of Sotheby’s international jewellery division. “In the 1990s, many record diamonds have been sold at auction to buyers in the region and in the last 15 years the number of buyers based in the region has risen by 25 per cent.”
When is the next Dubai jewels exhibition from Sotheby’s? Any gems and jewels that have been finalised for the tour?
Plans for Sotheby’s upcoming exhibitions in the Middle East will be announced in due course, according to a Sotheby’s spokeswoman. Having finished sales of Magnificent Jewels in Hong Kong on April 7, New York on April 21, and Geneva on Tuesday, there is no information at present about specific pieces to share, she added.
Follow The National’s Business section on Twitter