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I got this via e-mail and thought here were some interest financial stats recently from the magnificent jewels auction. Cheers!



Magnificent Jewels

Sale Total with Premium $57,141,621
Total Lots 507
Lots Sold 423
Percentage Sold 83%
Average Lot Value $135,087

Sale Total with Premium $56,967,067
Total Lots 365
Lots Sold 265
Percentage Sold 73%
Average Lot Value $226,290


Top Five Diamond Lots

Lot 453, Fancy Vivid Blue pear-shaped diamond ring $4,955,097
Lot 437, Fancy Vivid Purplish Pink diamond ring $2,554,242
Lot 427, Fancy Light Pink diamond ring $1,593,901
Lot 430, Fancy Intense Yellow diamond ring, Van Cleef & Arpels $1,113,730
Lot 308, A Fancy Intense Yellow cushion modified brilliant-cut

Top Five Noble Jewels

Lot 402, A natural pearl and diamond brooch $857,639
Lot 406, A diamond corsage ornament by Vever $740,263
Lot 397, Sapphire, emerald and diamond clip, Panthèlre, Cartier $538,287
Lot 381, An important Indian emerald bead necklace and a ring $435,393
Lot 357, Pair of Emerald and Diamond Earrings $412,528

Top Five Marinho Lots

Lot 517, Pair of pendent ear clips $2,927,709
Lot 514, Diamond pendant $1,273,787
Lot 510, Diamond bracelet, Natan $793,616
Lot 505, Diamond pendant necklace $572,585
Lot 515, Diamond necklace $503,989


Significant Sales
Rising prices for gem stones is one of the clearest measures of the growing interest in jewelry. The market for large white diamonds (over 10 carats) and large colored diamonds of high quality—especially blue and pink colored diamonds—has astonished even long-standing members of the trade. There is clearly a new group of buyers focused on these rare stones.

"The colored diamond market is a very particular market," says David Bennett, Chairman of Sotheby's International Jewelry Division, Europe and the Middle East. "The fact that blue diamonds come principally from only one mine in the world means there is not a large stock that can suddenly appear on the market."

The result is price acceleration for colored diamonds. "This is especially true of the most prized of the colored diamonds, the vivid blues and vivid pinks," Bennett adds.

Shortages aren't isolated to the colored diamond market. "What most observers are seeing is a huge shortage of rough stones that can yield a high-quality white diamond of 10 carats or more," Bennett says. "Thus prices are shooting up."

For all of the interest in large gem stones, the bulk of the jewelry market remains driven by an interest in fine period pieces. The Geneva sales offered no better example of that than a Van Cleef and Arpels sautoir (lot 446) that was sold at Sotheby's in May of 1987 for £61,600 and again in Geneva this May for $1,000,000. Most of that ten-fold increase in price is due to the exponential growth in the number of discerning jewelry collectors and a growing appreciation for fine jewelry.

The Noble Jewels sale reached $7.2 million, greatly exceeding the high estimate of $5 million. With the addition of its unique category of Noble Jewels, Sotheby's has found a successful way of presenting works that are both fresh to the market and have a much-desired aristocratic provenance.

The Noble jewels have been so successful because of a unique convergence of attributes and trends. Many bidders are pursuing items they intend to wear, the Noble jewels offer striking examples of distinctive pieces. For the most part, items in the Noble jewels sale have been in the sole possession of their original owner, often a descendant of the client who worked with a noted jeweler to create a unique piece. In most cases, these items are fresh to the jewelry market.

Lot 406 in the May Geneva sale is a perfect example. This large, almost a foot long, diamond corsage ornament was created by Vever at the turn of the 20th Century. It sold for more than three times its high estimate at approximately $750,000.

As with Noble jewels, a single-owner jewelry sale offers unique items that are fresh to the market. The Marinho collection totaled $11.1 million. Born in Cologne, Germany but living most of her adult life in Brazil, Lily Marinho is an arbiter of international style. Her taste for glamorous jewelry resonates with today's international style. "South America has always had a fondness for European things," Mr. Bennett says.

Two of her pieces were among the top five most valuable lots in Sotheby's sale. Two other lots were among the most attractive to bidders. A pair of sapphire and diamond ear clips (lot 495) was among the five lots that exceeded the estimate by the greatest margin. Two pairs of diamond and gem-set ear clips sold as one lot were among the lots that received the most attention from bidders.

Significant Buyers
The Geneva sales and the jewelry market attract a broad international spectrum of buyers representing both the jewelry trade and individual collectors. Given the location, it is no surprise to find that 50% of the lots were bought by Europeans. But what is remarkable in the buyer data is the fact that UK residents were buying lots of greater than average value. North American buyers showed a similar, but less pronounced, pattern. North Americans won 19% of the lots; they took home 24% of the sale's total value.

The jewelry market has also seen an influx of buyers who are new to Sotheby's Jewelry sales. In the Geneva sales, 20% of the buyers had never purchased a lot from Sotheby's before. The new buyers were evenly distributed among the regions represented in the sale with the largest group coming from the Middle East. New buyers from Asia, however, bought lots far in excess of their overall numbers. They acquired 12% of the lots that went to first-time buyers.

Market Trends
The Geneva sales are gaining in all measures. The two most recent sales have come closest to reaching the record total value set in 1993. With a consistent sale value around $57 million, the average lot value fell slightly between November and May.

This, no doubt, reflects the composition of the November sale. During that that sale an 84.37 carat white diamond sold for $16.2 million, significantly adding to the total value of the sale and raising the average lot value substantially. The market for large white diamonds is very strong but hampered by a lack of supply, as mentioned above. The records for per carat price have gone to colored diamonds, specifically vivid blue diamonds.

The May sale in Geneva was able to surpass that November 2007 sale total even though the top lot was just under $5 million or less than a third of the value of the November's top lot. One of the reasons for this increased price volume has been Sotheby's use of provenance to distinguish jewelry lots. Large gem stones have become increasingly important in the market for jewels but items with an identifiable provenance become unique works. And unique works are generally more valuable in jewelry as they are in the market for paintings and sculpture.

When the Geneva results are put in the context of the rest of the world auction market for jewelry at Sotheby's, we see a consistent pattern of average lot values consolidating around a point comparable with the Spring of 2007 after a surge in the Fall of 2007. This consolidation shows the market retaining its growth over the previous two years. Only time will tell whether the Fall surge was a seasonal, economic or long-term trend in the jewelry market.

The Art Market Monitor is published by Marion Maneker.
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