Style / Jewellery

Jewellery Sales for Christie’s and Sotheby’s Totalled $906.3 Million in 2018

Despite the drop in numbers, there were still many standout sales across both auction houses in 2018. 

Jan 10, 2019 | By Lynette Kee

While the general auction market continues to rise in popularity, jewellery sales across two of the largest houses – Christie’s and Sotheby’s – have decreased to the tune of $906.3 million, a 17.6 per cent drop from $1.1 billion from the year before. Christie’s achieved $492.3 million while Sotheby’s ended the year at $414 million.

In an interview with Forbes, Philippe Atamian, director of Faerber Collection Hong Kong, alluded that the slight decrease in numbers can be attributed to collectors growing increasingly picky with their buys. He explained, “We feel that the private collectors and also the dealers are pickier in their choices of buying. It is a fact worldwide but maybe more relevant in this part of the world (Asia).” Atamian clarified that there wasn’t much disparity between the trends of 2017 and 2018, but rather an increased focus on exclusivity in buys.

Despite the drop in numbers, there were still many standout sales across both auction houses in 2018.

Top Standout Jewellery Pieces from Christie’s and Sotheby’s sale in 2018

Among the top five lots of the year, four were sold by Christie’s. Sitting at the top of the list is a pink diamond ring called “Pink Legacy” hammered at $50.3 million. The 18.96-carat pink diamond ring was bought by Harry Winston and instantly renamed The Winston Pink Legacy. Ever since Swatch Group acquired Harry Winston in 2013, Nayla Hayek, CEO of Harry Winston has made it a goal to maintain the brand’s beloved tradition of acquiring important stones from around the world. And The Winston Pink Legacy, which now represents a world record for price per carat for pink diamonds at an auction, is certainly one of them.

The other three top sales sold under Christie’s were an 8.01-carat blue diamond necklace by Moussaeieff that fetched more than $20.4 million; an 8.08-carat Bulgari ring that sold for more than $18.3 million; and “The Peacock Necklace,” a Kashmir sapphire and diamond necklace of 109.08 carats that sold for nearly $15 million, setting a world record for a Kashmir sapphire necklace.

Sotheby’s on the other hand, had its Royal Jewellery Collection taking centre stage for their sales in 2018. The provenance-driven auction saw Marie Antoinette’s personal jewellery under the hammer with total sale amounting to $53.1 million. All of the lots were sold with 90% of them exceeding its pre-auction estimates. One of the key pieces is a pearl-shaped natural pearl diamond pendant which went for a record-breaking $36.1 million, crushing way beyond its estimate of $2 million.  On top of that, the pendant is regarded as the second most valuable jewel sold at an auction.

Online held auctions have become a very important part of jewellery sales for both houses. Christie’s revealed that $7.8 million of its total sales was achieved through online auctions, while Sotheby’s saw a 53 per cent increase in the amount of jewellery sold online as compared to 2017. However, physical auctions are still preferred amongst the collectors and dealers when it comes to extremely high-priced jewellery, notably from the extravagant pieces listed above.

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