Over its long history Christie’s has offered superb emerald jewels owned by Spain’s great rulers and British royals, the Romanovs and the Bonapartes, Mughal emperors and the Shahs of Persia, to name but a few. These are 10 of the very best emerald jewels from the Christie’s auctions….
The Rockefeller Emerald
Sold for $5,511,500 in 2018
In 1930 John D. Rockefeller, Jr. purchased a brooch for his wife, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller. The brooch, said to be by Van Cleef & Arpels, centred upon a large emerald with mesmerising colour and impeccable clarity. When Abby Aldrich Rockefeller passed away in 1948, Rockefeller turned to Yard to disassemble the brooch, and individual emeralds from the setting were distributed among the Rockefeller children. The centre emerald, weighing an impressive 18.04 carats, was given to David Rockefeller, who commissioned Raymond Yard to mount it as a ring. The Rockefeller Emerald was offered by Christie’s in the summer of 2017 and was purchased by Harry Winston for $5,511,500, or $305,500 per carat — the highest price per carat ever obtained for an emerald. After the auction, the gemstone was immediately rechristened the Rockefeller-Winston emerald.
Elizabeth Taylor’s Bulgari emerald brooch
Sold for $6,130,500 in 2011
According to Richard Burton ‘the only word Elizabeth [Taylor] knew in Italian was “Bulgari”’. During the filming of Cleopatra, Burton visited the Bulgari boutique in Rome, where he purchased this emerald and diamond brooch as a wedding gift for his fiancée. Worn by the actress at their marriage in 1964, the brooch was later sold in The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor: The Legendary Jewels Evening Sale at Christie’s in New York in December 2011. It realised $6,130,500, and remains the most expensive single stone emerald jewel ever sold.
The Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence auction in June 2019 offered a once-in-a-lifetime group of jewels and objects from the Al Thani collection. One of the many highlights was the The Taj Mahal Emerald, which in itself is a wonder of nature. This emerald of 141.13 carats came from Colombia and has never been subjected to any treatment. The last lot in a marathon 12-hour auction, it was fought over by private collectors and institutions before selling for just under $2 million. This is the miracle of its emerald jewels from the Christie’s auctions….
Princess Faiza’s emerald and diamond necklace
Sold for CHF 3,861,000 in 2013
This emerald and diamond necklace was purchased by Princess Faiza of Egypt — King Farouk’s sister — in 1947 at Van Cleef & Arpels in Paris. As well as its exquisite craftsmanship, the necklace’s imposing diamonds are complemented by elegant emerald drops. Auctioned at Christie’s Geneva in November 2013, it was purchased by Van Cleef & Arpels to become an iconic jewel of the house’s heritage collection.
It is common knowledge that the most famous emerald mines are located in Colombia, but few are aware of the mines of Afghanistan, which are located in the Panjshir valley, some 130 km north of Kabul. These fields yielded the exceptionally pure 10.11 carat Afghan Emerald, which was offered in Christie’s Magnificent Jewels auction in Hong Kong in December 2015 and achieved $225,000 per carat — still an auction world record for any emerald from Afghanistan.
Catherine the Great’s emerald brooch
Sold for $1,650,500 in 2010
Catherine the Great’s exquisite jewellery collection is renowned among connoisseurs. Particularly fond of emeralds, the Empress collected some of the largest stones then in existence. This extraordinary brooch was designed in the mid-18th century and set with a Colombian emerald weighing approximately 65 carats.
The rarest and most expensive emeralds are mined from Muzo, Coscuez and Chivor in the green foothills of the Colombian Andes, which is where the stones in this magnificent pair of earrings, weighing an impressive 23.34 and 23.18 carats and both exhibiting a richly saturated homogenous green colour, come from. Extraordinarily well-matched and spared any treatment, the Grand Muzos were first offered by Christie’s in 2012, realising $4.2 million. In 2019, they were presented for a second time by Christie’s and sold for $4.5 million, demonstrating the continued demand for jewels and gemstones of the highest quality.
Simón Iturri Patiño (1860-1947) controlled over 60 per cent of the world’s tin output, making him one of the five wealthiest men on the planet. Known as ‘The Andean Rockefeller’, Patiño developed a connoisseur’s eye for the rarest of gemstones, and his collection included this fine emerald and diamond necklace, which contains more than 100 carats of the highest quality Colombian emeralds alongside 60 carats of diamonds, mounted by Cartier in 1937. Offered at Christie’s in Geneva in November 2013, The Patiño Necklace made the second highest price for an emerald jewel in auction history.
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