Heiress’ jewels go on sale

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Rare diamonds by Cartier, Dreicer & Co and Tiffany will be offered in Christie’s New York sale of jewellery from the Estate of Huguette Clark, one of the last great heiresses of America’s Gilded Age, on April 17.

Clark’s jewelry collection, which is believed to have been stored in a bank vault since the 1940s, includes signed art deco jewels by Cartier, Dreicer & Co, and Tiffany & Co, including an extremely rare 9-carat pink diamond ring and a superb 20-carat D-color diamond ring.

“In the world of fine jewellery, this is truly a fairytale collection,” said Rahul Kadakia, head of jewellery for Christie’s Americas. “Opening the vault to find this treasure trove of period jewels from the best French houses of the early 1900s has certainly been one of the most extraordinary moments of my 15-year career here at Christie’s.

“The iconic Art Deco design and exceptional craftsmanship of these meticulously preserved jewels are emblematic of the great Gilded Age in American history.  We are proud to present this collection from one of the nation’s most storied families as the major highlight of our flagship jewelry auction this spring.”

The star of the collection is a cushion-cut fancy vivid purplish pink diamond of 9.00 carats, mounted in a Belle Époque setting by the French jeweller Dreicer & Co. (estimate: $6 – 8 million).  Based on the date of the stone’s setting – circa 1910 – the ring is believed to have originally belonged to Clark’s mother, the former Anna Eugenia La Chapelle, and was handed down to  Huguette.

Prices for top-quality pink diamonds of this size and quality have increased exponentially in recent years, driven by both collector demand and increasingly limited supply.  Pink diamonds gain their highly desirable colour as a result of a rare, naturally-occurring slippage of the crystal lattice in the stone while it is forming deep within the earth’s crust.

Only a few mines in the world produce pink diamonds, and of the stones that are cut and polished, only one in about 10 million diamonds will possess a colour pure enough to be graded as “fancy vivid”.  In December 2009, Christie’s Hong Kong offered for sale the 5-carat Vivid Pink diamond, which achieved a world auction record price of US$2.1 million per carat, amounting to US$10.8 million for the diamond.

Huguette Clark’s collection also features an exceptional colorless diamond ring of 19.86 carats, by Cartier (estimate: $2 –3 million).  Certified by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) as D color – the best colour grade possible in a white diamond – and with potentially internally flawless clarity, this superb stone was discovered in its original Cartier box from the 1920s.