Bling Bling! See 10 Record-Setting Gems Sold at Auction in the Last Year

The Hope Ruby sold at Christie's Geneva for $6.7 million on May 14
(Courtesy Christie's)

Jewelry prices keep inching upward, and records might as well be bowling pins the way they are consistently knocked over — both for single gems and for jewels per carat. Last week, Sotheby's sold the historic Beau Sancy diamond, consigned by the House of Prussia, for $9.7 million. The two-day sale in Geneva brought in $108 million for the auction house, a record for a various-owner jewelry sale (surpassed, of course, by the $115.9 million Elizabeth Taylor jewelry sale last December at rival house Christie's). Speaking of which, in Geneva, Christie's would have topped the Sotheby's record, but for the fact that its jewelry sale was split up between its multi-owner sale ($72.2 million) and the single-owner sale of the collection of Lily Safra ($37.9 million), which came to a total of $110.2 million.

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Jewelry may not be an official SWAG good, but it might as well be for the growth in the market over the last few years. Just in the last 12 months a dozen or more records have been set across the category for single lots, along side the increasingly high sale totals. Sure, five of the ten records on this list come from the Liz Taylor sale, which boasted a golden provenance equitable with some sort of convening of the gods of wealth, fame, taste, and quality. It was no surprise that so many people were falling over themselves to throw millions at the auctioneer last December — but what about the rest of the year? There have been records set for rare gems at almost every other auction that the big two auction houses have conducted since last May, both historic jewels once worn by famous-for-being-fabulous like Lily Safra and the straight-from-the-jeweler rocks like the "Sun Drop" diamond. Where is the demand coming from?

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Earlier this year ARTINFO