May 13, 2015 / 11:45 PM / in 3 years

Sapphire sets record at Christie's, Spanish royal brooch stranded

GENEVA (Reuters) - Rare colored gems led by a record-setting sapphire found new owners at Christie’s on Wednesday, but a heavily publicized brooch from Spain’s royal family was left on the block.

“The inexorable rise in demand for colored gemstones and pearls continued this evening,” Rahul Kadakia, international head of Christie’s jewelry department who conducted the Geneva auction, said in a statement.

A fancy vivid pink diamond weighing 5.18 carats was the top lot, fetching 10 million Swiss francs ($10.91 million), within its presale estimate of 9.5 million to 12.5 million francs.

A 55.5 carat flawless pear-shaped diamond netted 8.4 million francs, just missing its presale estimate. An Asian private buyer made the winning bid by telephone.

“The buyer of the pear-shaped diamond got a deal, a very good purchase,” Geneva-based jewelry dealer Eric Valdieu told Reuters in the showroom.

A 35.1 carat Kashmir sapphire and diamond ring went for 6.89 million francs, “establishing a world auction record for a Kashmir sapphire” at more than $200,000 per carat, Christie’s said. It had been estimated at 3 million to 4 million francs.

“The Kashmir sapphire and natural pearls stand out from this sale, which was less spectacular than usual,” Valdieu said.

Van Cleef ruby and diamond ear pendants and a matching ring given to Jacqueline Kennedy by Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis for their 1968 wedding fetched 342,000 francs, a Christie’s spokeswoman said.

An Asian private collector bought the set, which had been part of her estate sold by Sotheby’s in 1996.

Four stunning pieces by Paris-based American jeweler Joel Arthur Rosenthal, known as JAR, soared beyond their estimates, led by a Burmese sapphire, amethyst and diamond ring that fetched 725,000 francs.

However, a 19th century diamond brooch from Spain’s royal family, featured on the cover of Christie’s catalog, and which had been estimated at up to 2 million francs, went unsold.

The final bid of 900,000 francs failed to reach the secret reserve price set by the seller, Baroness Thyssen-Bornemizsa. She was the fifth wife of the late Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, a European industrialist and major art collector.

The brooch was given by Spain’s King Alfonso XII to the Archduchess Maria Christina of Austria for their wedding in 1879 and remained with the family until the 1980s.

Only 264 of 341 lots on offer sold, for a total of 91.25 million francs.

At rival Sotheby’s on Tuesday, a 25.59 carat Cartier ruby ring went for a world record 28.25 million Swiss francs($30.42 million) at a sale that fetched 150 million francs.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay. Editing by Andre Grenon

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