Sotheby’s Scores over $6M at Hong Kong Jewelry Auction

A sapphire and diamond ring took the top spot at a recent jewelry sale at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong, smashing its high estimate.

The piece, which contains a cushion-shaped, 17.50-carat, royal-blue Burmese sapphire surrounded by marquise-cut diamonds, sold for HKD 2.8 million ($357,226), the auction house said last week. That figure was well above its upper presale price.

In total, the January 31 Important Jewels auction brought in HKD 48.9 million ($6.3 million).

Yellow diamonds performed well at the sale, as did jewels by well-known design houses, including Graff, Cartier, Buccellati, and Van Cleef & Arpels. Sotheby’s also sold several diamonds and both green and lavender jadeite pieces with no reserve.

Here are the other four items rounding out the top five:

This cushion-shaped, 14.51-carat, fancy-intense-yellow, VS1-clarity diamond ring by Bulgari went for HKD 2.5 million ($324,751), within its presale estimate.

A ring set with an oval-shaped, 7.02-carat, Mozambican ruby center stone, surrounded by oval and pear-shaped diamonds, fetched HKD 2.5 million, just under its HKD 2.6 million ($332,422) upper price.
Sotheby’s sold this Graff bracelet, featuring nine cut-cornered square or rectangular-modified, fancy-intense-yellow diamonds ranging from 1.62 to 5.21 carats and 18 yellow-tinted diamonds for HKD 2.4 million ($308,513), within its estimate.
A pair of earrings, each suspending an oval ruby — one weighing 4.26 carats and the other 4.09 carats —and brilliant-cut diamonds, garnered HKD 1.9 million ($243,563) at the sale, within its presale price range.

Source: Rapaport

Van Cleef & Arpels Presents its Most Legendary Diamond Collection Yet

Van Cleef & Arpels’ Legend of Diamonds High Jewellery collection is an epic statement of the maison’s most exceptional crafts. 

It could be said that the story behind Van Cleef & Arpel’s Legend of Diamonds collection began in 2018 with the discovery of an extraordinary rough. The Lesotho Legend is the fifth-largest diamond rough found in the southern African country’s Letseng Mine – which, apart from having provided this and other legendary gemstones, is known for its commitment to complete traceability of rough stones. Van Cleef & Arpels, which for decades had bought no roughs, preferring to start with cut and faceted stones that are already suitable for use in jewellery, found the stone much too rare to pass up. Breaking with its own customs, the French jeweller acquired it. In the words of President and CEO, Nicolas Bos: “This is the first time in decades that we’ve been involved in a project from its starting point – the extraction of the stone – to the creation of a High Jewellery collection. The appearance of this extraordinary rough stone gave us this unique opportunity to tell a story around the diamond.”

And tell a story the maison certainly did. 

The Lethoso Legend was sent to the best diamond cutters in Antwerp and yielded 67 diamonds totalling 441.74 carats. They were perfect Type 2A, D colour diamonds, with clarity ranging from Flawless to Internally Flawless (the highest standard) and, more importantly, the diamonds were cut to the taste and standards of Van Cleef & Arpels. The maison has a penchant for fancy cuts, ovals, pears, emeralds and Asscher, and, among them, the biggest specimen was a 79.35-carat oval-shape.

Collerette Mystérieuse transformable necklace

Van Cleef & Arpels told the story of the Legend of Diamonds over two chapters, envisioning first, a chapter that paid tribute to the Mystery Set technique that’s synonymous with the house, and the second, a chapter rendered in all white diamonds paying tribute to trends and timeless styles from its archives.

When the collection was finished in 2022, four years after its conception, it toured the world. After restrictions are lifted on this side of the world, the high jewellery pieces arrived in Japan earlier this Spring, and we flew over to join the launch event.

A legendary collection deserves to be spotlighted at a legendary location – and Meiji Kinenkan was it. The venue was built in 1881 as a dining and reception hall to receive important envoys to the Akasaka Temporary Palace, and it was there, under an exquisite Meiji Era mural of golden pheasants and peonies, that the Legend of Diamonds were presented to us. Over a fine meal of white asparagus mousse, smoked lobster and wagyu prepared by three-Michelin-starred chef Kei Kobayashi, who had flown in from Paris for the special occasion, we watched models glide between our tables and gasped over the extraordinary pieces that adorned their necks, ears, wrists and hands.  

Chevron Mystérieux necklace
Chevron Mystérieux necklace and earrings with detachable pendants

The brief to Van Cleef & Arpels’ Design Studio, its workshops at Place Vendôme, was an ambitious one. Not only were the designers tasked to work with hugely important diamonds that were cut from the Lesotho Legend, but they were also tasked to uphold one of Van Cleef & Arpels’ most recognizable style through the 25-piece collection – the Mystery Set technique. Director Thomas Pozsgai recalls the first six months of designing the collection as “particularly intense” as the Design Studio rarely designs with diamonds that had not taken their final shape. The next challenge lay with the artisans, who used more than 30,000 hours of work to produce the pieces, taking into consideration the designs, the mechanical elements, the wearing comfort, and the transformative magic of the pieces. 

The 25 Mystery Set Jewels chapter marks the first time Van Cleef & Arpels has used the Mystery Set technique on its entire collection. The setting technique, which was patented in 1933, conceals the metal on the pieces entirely so that only the beauty and sparkle of the stones come through. Only a handful of artisans today know the immensely difficult process of mystery setting. The gemstones, usually rubies, but also sapphires and more rarely emeralds and diamonds – are fitted onto gold rails that hold the jewels in place. Each jewel is meticulously, masterfully hand-cut with grooves so that they can be slid snugly on to the metal structure.  

Traditional Mystery Set emeralds.
Traditional Mystery Set emeralds

The Legend of Diamonds – 25 Mystery Set celebrates the unique setting style, but it also celebrated another hallmark of Van Cleef & Arpels’ technical ingenuity – the transformability of its jewels, which is embodied by pieces such as 1938’s Passe-Partout model or the Zip necklace from the 1950s.  

These techniques are best exemplified by key pieces like the Chevron Mystérieux necklace, which takes inspiration from 1950s fashion and the crossover collars that were a popular detail on evening gowns of the era. From the collar necklace, three majestic pear-cut diamonds hang precociously, the centre stone measures over 31 carats, flanked by two others weighing 12.18 and 12.07 carats respectively. And then of course, the beautiful composition of the sapphires and Mystery Set emeralds that make up the rest of the necklace, the complex setting showcasing the emerald’s intense and uniform gleam, uninterrupted by any hint of metal, and contrasted with the deep hue of the blue sapphires. The necklace is not just transformable in one way, but six. The central motif for example, could be worn as a pendant upon a simpler chain, and the two other diamonds can be worn as earrings. 

Setting the rubies on the bezel
Setting the rubies on the bezel

The Collerette Mystérieuse is another couture-inspired collar necklace that drapes across the wearer’s neck in a stunning explosion of diamonds and Mystery Set rubies, edged with a line of pink sapphires and square-cut diamonds that depicts delicate lace, fastened at the nape with a beautifully set diamond bow. Two shining white diamonds take centre stage – both perfectly proportioned emerald cuts, with one over 51 carats and the other just over 10 carats. The larger diamond can be detached to form a ring, and is complimentary to the Individual Mystery Set ruby design which can be placed on the pendant. The Individual Mystery Set technique is a later technique that the maison mastered in 1937, in which the stones could be held in the metal individually. 

The second chapter, Legend of Diamonds – White diamond variations highlights the purity of white diamonds itself, celebrating Van Cleef & Arpels’ connections to the precious stone since 1906. The maison’s first jewellery sale, according to its archives, was said to be a heart set with brilliant white diamonds.  White diamonds have always been reserved for Van Cleef & Arpels’ most precious motifs – and in this chapter, the maison has rendered some of the most meaningful motifs and pieces in its heritage into new high jewellery pieces.

Legend of Diamonds Envol de diamants necklace
Legend of Diamonds Envol de diamants necklace

We’re invited to see this important connection to its heritage for ourselves at the Legend of Diamonds event in Tokyo. The maison had arranged for a selection of its archived jewellery to be displayed alongside the new High Jewellery collection. The 1950s was a period of glamour and success, jewellery dripping with diamonds found its way to Hollywood and the big screen. Designs from this period prioritized the interplay of different gem-cuts on an openworked structure, and from the collection, the Fabulous Fifties necklace features this popular style splendidly. Complimenting the necklace is the Chemin de diamants ring, which embodies a distinct style the maison has used since the 1940s – the snowflake setting, which combines round diamonds of various sizes to create depth and sparkle. 

The Envol de Diamants necklace was one that caught our attention. The original was a creation Van Cleef & Arpels made in 1956, a commission by Marcel Dassault to the famed pilot Jacqueline Auriol, who in 1953 became the first European woman to break the sound barrier. Paying homage to the 1956 necklace, the new Legend of Diamonds piece creates the illusion of an airplane’s tail in only white diamonds and gold.  

Chemin de diamant ring and Fabulous Fifties necklace

Van Cleef & Arpels’ classic clips and brooches are honoured in the Face À Face Clips, a double facing jewellery brooch that imitates the arch formation of dancers in Diamonds, one of the three tableaux in the George Balanchine ballet Jewels. Ballet has fascinated Van Cleef & Arpels since the 1940s and ballerinas have featured heavily in its portfolio since then. This more abstract aesthetic of the Face À Face clip is more akin to the trends of 1930s, but maybe in some ways, more easily wearable on various occasions today. 

The Legend of Diamonds collection, at long last arriving in Hong Kong, is not just an immensely beautiful collection to see and to own, but a celebration of an incredible milestone – the acquisition of a legendary stone, encapsulated in a legendary collection that spotlights the most important years in the maison’s history. 


Swiss Watch Trade Sees 12th Month of Decline


Swiss watch exports fell 11% year on year to CHF 1.59 billion ($1.78 billion) in January, the 12th consecutive monthly drop, as demand slowed in the US and in key Asian markets.

Shipments to the US declined 11% to CHF 183.3 million ($204.5 million), partly because strong figures in January 2020 created an unfavorable comparison, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry said Thursday.

Supply to Hong Kong dipped 9% to CHF 169.3 million ($188.9 million) last month as market conditions deteriorated, while exports to the UK and Japan slumped due to the tightening of Covid-19 measures, it added. January also had one fewer business day than the same period a year earlier.

The negative figures outweighed a 58% jump in orders from China, for a total of CHF 255 million ($284.5 million), mirroring a continued recovery of the retail sector on the mainland.

Globally, cheaper watches saw a sharper downturn, with shipments of timepieces priced under CHF 200 ($223) sliding 31% by value. Exports of watches with wholesale prices ranging from CHF 200 to CHF 500 ($558) decreased 26%, while goods valued between CHF 500 and CHF 3,000 ($3,347) suffered a decline of 25%. Shipments of items above that price level slipped 4.1%.

The numbers point to a worsening of the situation versus December, when the global decline was the mildest since the start of the pandemic as Chinese demand rose. The trade hasn’t witnessed a year-on-year increase since January 2020.

“The result for the month will nonetheless have only a limited effect on the upward trend seen since last summer, and a return to significant growth is expected over the next few months,” the federation noted.


Swiss Watch Exports Down 81% in April

Swiss Watches

Swiss watch exports plunged in April as coronavirus lockdowns brought the entire supply chain to a near halt.

“Swiss watch exports were extremely low in April as a direct result of the standstill in production, distribution and sales, causing them to collapse,” the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry reported Tuesday.

Shipments slid 81% to CHF 328.8 million ($339.1 million) for the month, with nearly all markets declining significantly. Orders from Hong Kong plummeted 83% to CHF 42.2 million ($43.5 million), while supply to the US dropped 86% to CHF 27.9 million ($28.8 million). Exports to Japan fell 86% to CHF 19.5 million ($20.1 million).

The decline in China was more mild, slipping 16% to CHF 110.3 million ($113.7 million), and accounting for one-third of total Swiss watch exports in April, as the economy began to recover. However that compares with an increase of 11% to CHF 155.9 million ($160.6 million) in March. In February, shipments to China fell 52% due to the coronavirus.

All price categories “contracted sharply,” as exports of timepieces valued between CHF 500 ($516) to CHF 3,000 ($3,095) declined 72% by value. Watches worth more than CHF 3,000 dropped 86%.

Shipments of timepieces made from precious metal decreased 82% to CHF 102.4 million ($105.6 million). Supply of gold and steel watches saw the steepest decline, tumbling 90% to CHF 28.4 million ($29.3 million).


$1.2M for Van Cleef Ring Target At Bonhams

Bonhams Van Cleef Blue Diamond Ring

Bonhams will spotlight a 2.17 carat Van Cleef & Arpels blue diamond ring at its upcoming sale, estimating it will fetch $800,000 to $1.2 million USD.

The emerald cut, fancy intense blue, VVS2 clarity diamond is accented by round brilliant cut diamonds. The piece, from a private collection, will lead the September 26 New York Jewels auction.

Other pieces from the Van Cleef collection include an oval shaped, 21.56 carat Burmese sapphire ring flanked by diamonds, valued at $250,000 to $350,000. An emerald cut, 6.09 carat, fancy vivid yellow diamond ring, surrounded by white diamonds, is estimated at $140,000 to $180,000.

The sale will also feature a round brilliant cut, 11.11 carat, E color, VS2 clarity diamond, which is expected to go under the hammer for $250,000 to $450,000. A 24.64 carat, fancy yellow diamond ring, centered between two white diamonds, is valued at $270,000 to $370,000, while a cushion shaped, modified brilliant cut, fancy deep pink diamond ring weighing 2.42 carats carries an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000.

Several Art Deco pieces, including two items from the estate of German silent-film actor Joseph Schildkraut, will also be up for auction.

Bonhams will hold an exhibition tour of the pieces in Los Angeles, Hong Kong and New York prior to the sale.


Cartier Sues Alleged Counterfeiter

Cartier love bracelet

Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels have filed a lawsuit against a Florida jeweler, claiming willful infringement on a number of the luxury jewelers’ famous trademarked collections.

Scott King Inc., registered for business as Florida Diamond Brokers and King Jewelers, allegedly sold imitations of jewelry belonging to the Richemont-owned divisions, the May 6 suit, filed in the US District Court of Florida, claims.

In November 2018, an agent of Cartier and Van Cleef visited King Jewelers, and noticed the store was selling counterfeit copies of the jewelers’ pieces. Those imitations included Van Cleef’s Alhambra and Perlée collections, as well as Cartier’s Love and Juste un Clou collections, engraved with the brands’ trademarked name, the suit claims. The prices for the items ranged from $900 to $1,125 for earrings, and more than $6,000 for bracelets, a similar range to Cartier and Van Cleef’s own prices.

The agent returned to the store the following month, and again in February, according to the lawsuit. During the first visit, employees of King Jewelers allegedly informed the agent that the jewelry was not authentic Van Cleef and Cartier pieces, but rather “inspiration” jewels made to look like them. An employee also said the products were not listed in the store’s catalogues because they “don’t want to get in trouble.”

Cartier and Van Cleef are asking the court to order King Jewelers to turn over all its counterfeit jewelry to them for destruction, and to recall any pieces it has distributed to retailers and other customers. They are also suing for the total amount of profits King Jewelers has made from all sales of the copied pieces, plus up to $2 million per counterfeited collection and per each jewelry category (bracelets, rings, etc.) within those collections.