This Is What a $12 Million Ruby Looks Like

Highlights from the Christie’s Magnificent Jewels sale preview

When I moved back to my hometown of Los Angeles in late 2009, after 11 years in New York City, I worried that my career as a jewelry writer would suffer because I’d be marooned in a jewelry no-man’s-land. If only I knew then what I know now: L.A. will never be a bigger jewelry city than New York, but it nevertheless attracts a steady stream of industry superstars—and by superstars, I mean both people and jewels.

Exhibit A: The 15.99 ct. Jubilee Ruby (pictured)—a no-heat Burma ruby set in a “sensational” ring by Verdura and estimated to fetch between $12 million and $15 million—paid a visit to L.A. this past weekend as part of a traveling exhibition of contemporary art, handbags, and jewels going on the block at Christie’s this spring.

I brought my boyfriend Jim to the Christie’s reception Saturday night, which was held at the UFO gallery space in Hollywood, and even though the show featured work by my favorite 20th-century artist, the surrealist Belgian painter René Magritte, I only had eyes for the baubles from the April 20 Magnificent Jewels sale, which coincides with Christie’s 250th anniversary.

The first piece that caught my eye was a groovy yellow gold, diamond, and malachite sautoir necklace by Cartier (lot 119), c. 1970, estimated to fetch between $15,000 and $20,000.


Cartier yellow gold, diamond, and malachite sautoir (photo courtesy Christie’s)

Next, I fell for pair of sapphire ear clips by the German contemporary jeweler Hemmerle (lot 228), estimated to sell for $40,000–$60,000.


Hemmerle sapphire ear clips (photo courtesy Christie’s)

But the Jubilee Ruby (lot 255), which is being touted as the most important ruby to come to auction in the United States over the past 25 years, was undoubtedly the star of the show. It’s a remarkably round gem and even though it’s difficult to see just how deep the stone is because the setting obscures the view, it looks shallower than you’d expect. The color is phenomenal. Christie’s doesn’t use the classic “pigeon’s blood” terminology to describe the red, but I would be hard-pressed to believe that this gem from Myanmar’s legendary Mogok region doesn’t carry the classic ruby descriptor.


The Jubilee Ruby on my right-hand ring finger


Ruby sparks! (photo by James S. Sullivan) 

Natural rubies of this size are the essence of rarity. When the Jubilee Ruby goes on sale April 20, there’s a good chance it will break the record set by the 15.04 ct. Crimson Ruby, which sold for $18.3 million at Christie’s Hong Kong in December 2015. Watch this space.


(Top: photo courtesy Christie’s)

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