The coronation tiara crowns Geneva jewels auction. A glittering tiara worn at two British coronations and the Star of Egypt diamond, rumored to have once belonged to King Farouk, are among the historical pieces of jewelrybeing auctioned off by Christie's in Geneva on Wednesday.
The gleaming items are up for grabs in the auction house's Magnificent Jewels sale in the Swiss city. The auction also includes the most extensive private collection of JAR jewelry ever offered at auction, spanning 40 years of the work of Paris-based designer Joel Arthur Rosenthal.
The auction of the Bessborough Diamond Tiara, which was worn at the coronations of his grandfather King George VI in 1937 and mother Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, came less than a fortnight after the coronation of Britain's King Charles III.
To commemorate his appointment as Canada's governor-general in 1931, Vere Ponsonby, the ninth Earl of Bessborough, commissioned the Parisian jeweler Chaumet to create a tiara for his wife. The platinumArt Deco tiara weighs 136.5 grams and features an exquisite floral design.
Max Fawcett, head of the jewelry department at Christie's in Geneva told AFP:
This is as iconic as it gets in terms of the style. The workmanship is unbelievable. This is quite crown-like, which is fitting for this year as it has been through two coronations. It's a piece of art and a piece of history.- Max Fawcett
It is projected to bring between 800,000 and 1.5 million Swiss francs (about US$890,000-copy.67 million).
The Star of Egypt is a stunning 105.52-carat unmounted diamond.
Its origins are unknown, but it was supposedly purchased in 1850 by the viceroy of Egypt, who sold it in 1880. It debuted on the London market in 1939.
It was later purchased by King Farouk, who governed Egypt from 1936 until 1952. When he retreated into exile, his amazing jewelry collection vanished, only to reappear several years later. The Star of Egypt was purchased alongside gems that were known to be in his possession.
It has been in the same family since the 1970s and has never previously been auctioned. It is expected to be between two and three million Swiss francs.
"The shape of it is incredible, the square emerald cut. It's an absolutely gorgeous stone," said Fawcett.
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A single collector acquired the 28 items by Joel Arthur Rosenthal (JAR) during a 15-year period.
Rosenthal, who was born in New York but now lives in Paris, creates up to 70 intricately constructed works per year.
These are usually pre-assigned to his existing collectors and associates, "so as a new collector it's difficult to get in there," Rahul Kadakia, Christie's international head of jewelry, told AFP.
What's nice is that there are lots priced from 3,000 to 400,000 (Swiss francs), so there's a jewel or object for every level of collector.- Rahul Kadakia
The 2011 sapphire, spinel, and diamond 'eye' bangle, estimated at 150,000-200,000 Swiss francs, is the most eye-catching. It has a golden expandable bracelet with a blue iris and a black pupil. Kadakia remarked:
JAR is super-creative and inventive in the way he uses gemstonesand fuses colors together. It's so realistic.- Kadakia
Even when viewed in profile, the curve of the eyeball is visible.
A Cartier Belle Epoque natural pearl and diamond devant-de-corsage once owned by Australian opera soprano Nellie Melba is the most expensive of the 102 items. It was created in 1902 and is valued at 3.5 million Swiss francs.