Diamonds, signed jewels soar at Christie's sales

Thu May 13, 2010 10:01am EDT
 
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By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters Life!) - Diamonds and signed vintage jewels netted strong prices at Christie's semi-annual sales in Geneva, signaling that the international market has returned to full strength, the auction house said on Thursday.

The star lot on Wednesday night, which followed modern art sales in New York last week, was a flawless white diamond weighing 40.21 carats sold for 5.69 million Swiss francs ($5.14 million) to an anonymous buyer, it said. The rectangular-cut stone was estimated at $4.5 million-$5.5 million.

"The vigor seen in the US and Asia was equaled here in Europe, with strong prices achieved for fine jeweler, watches and wine. demand for stellar examples rivaled that seen at the height of the market, which very much seems to have returned 'en force'," Francois Curiel, President of Christie's Switzerland, said in a statement.

Christie's jeweler sales totaled $33.9 million, above the high end of its pre-auction estimate, with some 89 percent of the 220 lots on offer finding new owners, it said.

Rival Sotheby's (ADD RIC) netted 60 million Swiss francs ($54.10 million), almost double the low end of its pre-sale estimate, at its jeweler sales in the Swiss city on Tuesday.

Jean-Marc Lunel, head of Christie's jeweler department in Geneva, European capital for jewel auctions, said of its own results: "Once again diamonds dominated the total, although signed period jewels proved the most popular pieces in the sale.

"Two private collections of fine vintage jeweler virtually sold out for $9.9 million, while every lot in the special 'Cartier section' found a buyer, achieving a total of $4.2 million," he said.

Among the Cartier pieces was a 1928 "Tutti Frutti" bracelet from the Art Deco period, set with rubies, sapphires, diamonds, and emerald and onyx beads, which soared to 1.023 million Swiss francs, more than five times its pre-sale estimate. Hancocks & Co, London-based traders, bought it, according to the statement.   Continued...

 
<p>A flawless white diamond weighing 40.21 carats and sold for 5.69 million Swiss francs ($5.14 million) to an anonymous buyer, is seen in a handout photo. REUTERS/Christie's/Handout</p>