Forty-three years ago, Jacques Arpels of Van Cleef & Arpels fame traveled to what is now Sri Lanka to acquire a flawless 43.16-carat rectangular-cut cornflower-blue sapphire that was subsequently mounted in a ring and flanked with two pear-shaped diamonds. Last week, the same ring came up for auction at Bonhams in Hong Kong and sold for $1.56 million, crushing the previous world record for the highest amount ever paid per-carat for a Sri Lankan sapphire.
According to reports, bidders competed fiercely for the privilege of owning the impressive sapphire ring that carried a pre-sale estimate of $550,000 to $650,000. It ended up selling for $36,000 per carat, far above the previous record for a Sri Lankan sapphire of $26,000 per carat.
The Van Cleef & Arpels ring was one of eight head turners featured at the November 23 sale titled, "Eight Exceptional Jewels From a Private Collection." A single unnamed jewelry aficionado owned every item in the collection. The sales total for all eight items was $4.37 million.
A second standout from the private collection was another Van Cleef & Arpels piece. Cleverly designed in four sections, the emerald-and-diamond necklace could be altered by the wearer so it could be worn as a choker/bracelet combo or as two bracelets.
Designed between 1959 and 1961, the necklace features 22 precisely matched emeralds, with a combined weight of 47 carats. It also boasts 412 diamonds with a total weight of 70 carats. Pre-auction estimates set the price of this treasure at $1 million to $1.5 million. At the auction, the gavel went down at $1.24 million.
A third top lot was a ruby-and-diamond strap bracelet set with 107 carats of fine-quality rubies. Made in 1936 and once owned by the glamorous French philanthropist Madame Hélène Beaumont, the supple and ribbon-like bracelet reflects the refined skills of a master craftsman. It sold for $467,000.