Source: Christie’s Images Ltd.
Auctions

The Stories Behind the Biggest Jewelry Sales of 2015

The auction world’s top jewels, fit for (and perhaps previously owned by) a queen.

Now is the time to own (and sell) colored gemstones. Blue sapphires, striking red rubies, and pink diamonds made up 9 of the top 10 jewels sold at auction in 2015. Pink diamonds, in fact, accounted for a solid half of those sales. The only clear diamond to make it on the list? A 100-carat, emerald-cut stone that’s so large it looks unreal, the gemological equivalent of clown shoes. (Very, very expensive clown shoes.)

Of course, it’s one thing to be a massive colored stone; it’s another to have an equally sparkling provenance. Check out the backstories of this year’s top 10 jewelry sales, which combined for a grand total of $214 million, below.

1. “The Blue Moon of Josephine,” 13.02 Carats

The Blue Moon of Josephine diamond

“The Blue Moon of Josephine” diamond

Source: Sotheby's

This headliner sold for $48,468,158 at Sotheby’s, reportedly to Joseph Lau, a Hong Kong billionaire who renamed it after his 7-year-old daughter, Josephine. The price Lau paid set a world record for any diamond of any color, and set another one for price per carat of any gemstone, ever. Now, what will he do for her 8th birthday? 

 

2. Ruby and Diamond Ring by Cartier, 25.59 Carats

 

A superb and extremely rare ruby ring
A superb and extremely rare ruby ring
Source: Sotheby's

Sold for $30,335,698 at Sotheby’s. This massive ruby, set between shield-shaped diamonds weighing 2.47 and 2.70 carats, set a world auction record for ruby sales and was the first “colored stone” to sell for more than $1 million per carat at auction. The seller was listed simply as “a lady.”

 

3. “The Sweet Josephine,” 16.08 Carats

The Sweet Josephine diamond ring

“The Sweet Josephine” diamond ring

Source: Christie’s Images Ltd.

Sold for $28,523,925 at Christie’s. Remember the Hong Kong billionaire from No. 1 on this list? A few days earlier he also bought this ring, also for his 7-year-old daughter, and also named it after her. This girl is going to be the best-dressed kid on the playground, hands down. (Actually, probably best to keep those hands in her pockets.)

 

 4. Emerald-Cut Diamond, 100.20 Carats

A 100 carat diamond

A 100-carat diamond

Source: Sotheby's

Sold for $22,090,000 at Sotheby’s. The next time someone oohs and ahs about your 2- or 3-carat diamond ring, keep things in perspective. Someone out there is carting around a perfect 100-carat ring. Presumably in a wheelbarrow.

 

5. “The Crimson Flame,” 15.04 Carats

The Crimson Flame ruby

“The Crimson Flame” ruby

Source: Christie’s Images Ltd.

Sold for $18,372,913 at Christie’s. The auction catalog notes that this color is “poetically referred to as ‘pigeon blood red,’” which goes to show that poets can own jewelry, but not all jewelry owners can be poets.

 

6. “The Historic Pink,” 8.72 Carats

The Historic Pink diamond

“The Historic Pink” diamond

Source: Sotheby's

Sold for $15,903,422 at Sotheby’s, this stone is believed to have been part of the collection of Princess Mathilde de Bonaparte, Napoleon I’s niece; part of the murky provenance presumably has to do with the fact that it was kept in a bank vault since the 1940s.

 

 7. Purple-Pink Diamond Ring, 8.24 Carats 

A fancy vivid purple-pink diamond ring

A fancy vivid purple-pink diamond ring

Source: Sotheby's

Sold for $13,866,553 at Sotheby’s. Set between two pear-shaped diamond shoulders, the ring was the second-most expensive lot of Sotheby’s November “Magnificent and Noble Jewels” sale in Geneva.

 

8. Ruby and Diamond Latticework Necklace, 120.74 Carats 

A ruby and diamond necklace
A ruby and diamond necklace
Source: Christie’s Images Ltd.

Sold for $13,006,656 at Christie’s. The necklace has 48 rubies for a total of 120.74 carats; each stone was found in the famous ruby mines in Burma (Myanmar). The necklace was made by Etcetera, a Hong Kong-based jeweler founded by Edmond Chin, who ran Christie’s Hong Kong jewelry department for five years.

 

9. Colored Diamond Ring, 9.07 Carats

A rectangular cut colored diamond ring, mounted by Harry Winston

A rectangular-cut colored diamond ring, mounted by Harry Winston

Source: Christie’s Images Ltd.

Sold for $12,643,776 at Christie’s. Flanked by triangular-shaped diamonds, this “fancy intense pink” diamond was mounted by Harry Winston and is merited a type IIa, the Gemological Institute of America’s designation for the most chemically pure diamonds in the world.

 

10. Rectangular-Cut Colored Diamond Ring, 5.18 carats

A rectangular cut colored diamond ring
A rectangular cut colored diamond ring
Source: Christie’s Images Ltd.

Sold for $10,709,443 at Christie’s. The colored diamond, mounted in gold, is surrounded by oval diamonds that weigh between .59 and .50 carats. They’re each internally flawless; mere mortals would (most likely) be perfectly happy with one on its own.

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