Sotheby’s Sets Records

Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels sale on Dec. 4, 2007, generated $49.8 million, 32 percent more than the high estimate of $37.4 million and the highest total ever for a jewelry sale at Sotheby’s New York. “We are thrilled,” says Gary Schuler, senior vice president, director of jewelry, for the New York auction house.

This is good news for retailers. It means money is still available for big diamonds, big sapphires, and signed pieces of jewelry. It also alerts jewelers to take their international clients into account. At Sotheby’s, the value of the dollar helped bring in a house full of European, Middle Eastern, and Far Eastern jewelry buyers. “Participation was worldwide,” says Schuler. “Amazing prices were paid, not only for white diamonds, but for great works of art.” Sotheby’s catalog was filled with gems and jewelry from Harry Winston, Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, David Webb, and others. “This is the name of the game these days across the board,” says Schuler. “To have signed great period jewelry pieces. There are no price limits on these pieces.”

As examples, a pair of diamond pendant earrings by Harry Winston “soared past their high estimate of $2 million” and sold for $3.9 million. Natural pearls are back, and Sotheby’s had a collection of them from Kelly and Calvin Klein. A single-strand natural pearl and diamond necklace, signed Cartier, sold for $3.6 million. These pearls were formerly in the collection of the Duchess of Windsor.

Leading the charge at the evening session was a historic FDR Victory Clock, which exceeded its $1 million high estimate and sold for $1.6 million, a record for a Cartier clock at auction. The eight-day five-time-zone desk clock, circa 1943, is made of silver, black onyx, and nephrite and was given as a personal gift to President Franklin Delano Roose-velt by Pierre Cartier. It sparked an intense bidding war between two telephone participants, finally selling to an American private collector.

The previous record for a Magnificent Jewels sale at Sotheby’s New York was $33,486,641, achieved in October 1994.