Smuggled Romanov Jewels Fetch $885,000 in Sotheby’s Geneva Auction

Sotheby’s Geneva Luxury week auctions opened on 10th November with a flagship sale of “Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels”, which starred three sapphire and diamond jewels with Romanov provenance, which doubled the pre-auction estimate to make $885,000. They led the historic jewels offered in the sale, including four dazzling tiaras. However, the top lot of the night went to a perfectly matched pair of diamond pendant earrings at $5.6 million, reflecting the strong demand seen for exceptional white diamonds across the auction.

The auction made CHF 39.8 million / $43.7 million, comfortably within the pre-sale estimate (CHF 31.1-43.3 million), and with a healthy sell-through rate of 85.7%. Some 55% of lots sold for prices above their high estimates.

Lot 279 Historically important sapphire and diamond brooch and a pair of ear clips, circa 1900.

The sale starred a sapphire and diamond brooch and matching ear clips with Romanov provenance taken out of Russia for safekeeping during the 1917 revolution (lot 279), they more than doubled their low estimate to sell for CHF 806,500 / $884,972 (est. $300,000-500,000). They had once belonged to the formidable aunt of Emperor Nicholas II, Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna (1854-1920) who entrusted her friend, the British diplomat and aristocrat Albert Henry Stopford (1860-1939) with their safe passage to London.

Lot 287 A superb and perfectly matched pair of diamond earrings.

The sale was led by a superb and perfectly matched pair of diamond earrings, each set with a D colour, Flawless square-cut diamond weighing 25.88 carats respectively (lot 287). They sold for CHF 5.1 million / $5.6 million, a price above their pre-sale estimate (CHF 4.1-5 million).

Indeed, white diamonds accounted for four of the five highest prices across the auction, reflecting the demand for stones of the very highest quality. They include a magnificent diamond bracelet from a royal collection set with a D colour pear-shaped diamond weighing 59.00 carats. This sold for the second highest price of the day: CHF 4.1 million / $4.5 million (CHF 3.6-4.2 million). 
Olivier Wagner, Sotheby’s Head of the Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale, commented:“This evening’s auction struck the perfect balance for collectors, offering great historic pieces with royal provenance alongside signed pieces, important mid-century jewels and a selection of the finest quality diamonds and coloured gemstones. The storied history of the Romanov jewels undoubtedly proved the power of provenance, with collectors from around the world vying for the winning bid, pushing the final price far over its pre-sale estimate. The enduring appeal of white diamonds of exceptional quality was also evident, accounting for the majority of the most valuable lots sold today.”

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