On April 6, Cartier beat out eight bidders to pay a world record $27.44 million for a legendary jadeite necklace at Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels auction in Hong Kong—in a sale that also set a world-record price for an auctioned ruby.
The Hutton-Mdivani Necklace—hailed by Sotheby’s as the “greatest jadeite bead necklace in the world”—attracted eight bidders who competed for 20 minutes, in “one of the most thrilling salesroom competitions ever,” said Chin Yeow Quek, deputy chairman and head of jewellery department, Sotheby’s Asia, in a statement.
In the end, the bidders doubled the piece’s $12.8 million estimate, to come in at $27.44 million, a world-record price for a piece of jadeite jewelry. The winning bidder was listed as the Cartier Collection.
The necklace, held together with a Cartier-designed clasp, features 27 translucent, color-matched, bright green jadeite beads, ranging in size from 15.4 mm to 19.2 mm. This is the third time the necklace has appeared at auction—and each time it’s set a record. In 1988, it sold for $2 million, then the highest price ever paid for a piece of jadeite jewelry. Six years later, it doubled the previous price to sell for $4.2 million, again setting a record.
The piece was owned for years by noted jewelry collector Barbara Hutton, heiress to the Woolworth fortune and daughter of one of the cofounders of investment firm E.F. Hutton. The seven-times-married poor little rich girl received the necklace from her father upon her 1933 wedding to Georgian nobleman Prince Alexis Mdivani (the marriage lasted two years).
The auction house also set a world record for a ruby when a 29.62 ct. cushion-shape oval Burmese Mogok ruby and diamond ring by Cartier, below, brought $7.34 million from a private buyer.