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May 2012

Sotheby's Sees Highest Total for Spring Sale in NY

This fancy blue diamond ring realized more than four times its pre-sale high estimate at Sotheby's sale of Magnificent Jewels in New York.
New York--Sotheby's sale of Magnificent Jewels on April 18 achieved a total of $43.2 million, surpassing its pre-sale high estimate of $31.1 million and marking this auction as the highest-ever total for a spring sale of jewelry at Sotheby's New York.

The auction saw 88 percent sold by lot, with strong prices seen for estate jewels, white and colored diamonds, precious gems and natural pearls.

"This sophistication and depth of the market cannot be overstated, with participation from international collectors, the jewelry trade, and new buyers drawn in by a sale that offered wonderful pieces for every taste," said Lisa Hubbard, chairman of North and South America for Sotheby's international jewelry division. "This was especially evident in the outstanding performance of the important estate collections on offer, which brought $14 million in total and doubled their cumulative high estimate."

The top lot of the auction was a 3.54-carat marquise-shaped fancy blue diamond ring (top) by Tiffany & Co. circa 1900, which realized $2.4 million ($687,712 per carat) after a pre-sale high estimate of $500,000. The VS1 diamond was sold to Brett Stettner of Stettner Investment Diamonds.
A 23.02-carat cushion shaped step-cut fancy vivid yellow diamond ring of VVs1 clarity sold for $1.9 million, or $81,429 per carat, to an Asian private buyer.

A natural pearl and diamond necklace by Cartier circa 1935 realized $1.3 million after a pre-sale high estimate of $350,000. The necklace was sold to an anonymous buyer.
A 13.59-carat platinum and emerald-cut diamond ring of D color and VVS2 clarity sold for $1.2 million, or $88,484 per carat.

Sotheby's will next hold its sale of Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels in Geneva from May 14-15. Lots of the auction will include the Beau Sancy Diamond and the private collection of Suzanne Belperron.

April 2012

Elizabeth Taylor Effect Jewels

Historic, iconic, storied and even landmark
are words that have all been used to described
the collection of Elizabeth Taylor jewels.

Categorized as 'vintage' her acquired collection of show-stopper diamonds, garlands of emeralds and rubies and an historically important pearl, hold insight into her professionally charmed silver-screen life as well as her passionate love-life. Both of which combined have made her one of the most iconic Hollywood figures.

From the besotted indulgence of the high-value gifts from her lover and then twice-husband Richard Burton to the magnanimous offerings of her husband Mike Todd, every pendant, earring and ring tells a story that is potentially worth more in their charming, whimsical and romantic tales of folly than the carats they are loaded with.

"I never, never thought of my jewelry as trophies. I'm here to take care of them and to love them. When I die and they go off to auction I hope whoever buys them gives them a really good home." - Elizabeth Taylor

And that they did! Setting a record as the most valuable jewelry auction in history as 'The Legendary Jewels Evening Sale' achieved US$115,932,000 over the 4 day ( December 13 to 16, 2011) series of landmark auctions devoted to the iconic Elizabeth Taylor.

Many of the Christie's bidders and buyers claimed silence to the prices they paid and archival jewels they purchased. However, the seeming reincarnation of Liz - Hollywood reality TV show actress, Kim Kardashian was generous with the information she passed on to press in regards to her New York action attendance.

Elizabeth Taylor was an idol of mine and I'm honored to now own something from her collection," said Kim. "The Lorraine Schwartz jade bracelets are special because jade transfers energy, so I will cherish these bracelets with her energy in them for the rest of my life!"

Worth more $115.9 million ,the vintage jewelry by Lorraine Schwartz was added to Kim's collection which already includes an 18-carat blackened gold necklace that had 120 carats of diamonds, 70-carat emerald-and-diamond earrings and 150 carats of emeralds which reside valued at over 4 million dollars.

Kim, at 31 years old and with only 1 divorce up her sleeve has still got some catching up to do to match the intriguing collections, of both men and jewels, that Elizabeth Taylor is known for.

Hollywood glam, while wholly attainable by very few in reality, is a classic trend that despite social and professional holdings, is attainable by all!

Modern on-line boutiques by the likes of Net-A-Porter and ASOS offer enchanting pieces of 'vintage' jewelry to the more modest of buyer, keeping the classic trend attainable and forever fashionable.

Characterized as anything from the 1920's to the 1980's - vintage jewelry, in particular, the opulent Hollywood styled jewels, come as bold as they are colorful.

Usually paying tribute to a singular centered precious gem (ruby, emerald, sapphire) diamonds encrust the bright stone in a manner that frames it, elevating it's largeness and boldness.

Liz Taylor and Kim Kardashian are not the only fan's of vintage 'Hollywood' jewelry. The Red Carpet runs heavy with jewels and their history every year!

The Elizabeth Taylor Diamond is a rare D color (Type IIa) VS1 clarity diamond weighing 33.19 carats. The stone was a gift from Richard Burton, who purchased it in 1968 for $300,000.

As do high society balls, weddings, graduation events... Vintage jewelry is not a passing trend, but almost a story that moves from generation, to social level, and everywhere in-between.

March 2012

Sotheby's NY sees Highest Total for Feb. Jewels

This heart-shaped fancy orange-pink diamond pendant-necklace,
of VS1 clarity, was purchased by an anonymous buyer at
Sotheby's auction of Important Jewels.

New York--Sotheby's auction of "Important Jewels" here on Feb. 9 achieved a total of $10.3 million, marking the highest total for a February auction of jewelry at Sotheby's New York. For the 336-lot sale, 84 percent was sold by lot and 88 percent was sold by value.

"We are very pleased with the results of Sotheby's first jewelry auction of 2012, and the strong indications that the market has given for the coming year," Lisa Hubbard, co-chairman of Sotheby's international jewelry department, said, adding that white diamonds "performed exceptionally throughout the day."

The top lot of the auction was a 5-carat heart-shaped fancy orange-pink diamond pendant necklace, which sold for $632,500, or $126,000 per carat.

A modified cushion-shaped diamond ring (below) realized $446,500 after a pre-sale high estimate of $300,000. The 17.73-carat diamond was of J color, VS1 clarity and potentially flawless.

A 7.22-carat, G color, internally flawless emerald-cut diamond ring (below) sold for $362,500, or $50,208 per carat. A 7.19-carat round diamond ring (below), of F color and VVS2 clarity, realized $356,500 at the auction.

"With this record result for a February sale in New York, we very much look forward to April and our auction of Magnificent Jewels," Hubbard said.

Sotheby's auction of Magnificent Jewels will be held April 18 in New York.


February 2012

Vintage Platinum Fetches Millions
at Taylor Auction 
The late Elizabeth Taylor, whose jewels are considered one of the greatest private collections ever assembled, certainly had an eye for jewelry, particularly diamonds, and some of her iconic pieces were--not surprisingly--set in platinum.

Dubbed "The Crown Jewels of Hollywood," by Rahul Kadakia at Christie's New York auction house, the star's jewels were part of a world-record-setting auction just before the holiday season. There were separate auctions for her clothing and accessories, but nothing matched the drama that happened Christie's New York threw open the vault on December 13, 2011, and presented 80 pieces of jewelry in a special evening sale that  sold out fully, bringing in $115.9 million.

Vintage platinum pieces, from a stunning diamond ring to exquisite chandelier earrings, were among those that fetched some of the highest prices of the evening. In fact, the top-selling piece was a Cartier diamond, ruby and natural pearl necklace, "La Peregrina," that was first purchased in 1969  by Taylor's ex-husband Richard Burton. The rubies in the necklace, which fetched $11.4 million, were mounted in platinum.

Another top-selling lot: a cut-cornered, rectangular cut 33.19-carat diamond ring, set in platinum. Estimated at $2.5 million to $3.5 million, the stunning Krupp diamond that Taylor reportedly wore every day sold for $8.8 million.  It was, again, presented to Taylor  by Burton, one of her several generous husbands, who bought it in 1968.


This diamond ring, set with a 33.19-carat cut-cornered rectangular cut diamond flanked on either side by a tapered baguette-cut diamond was a gift from Richard Burton to Elizabeth Taylor. It sold for $8.8 million at Christie's Legendary Jewels, Evening Sale. Photo: Christie's Ltd. 2012. 
When they married in 1964, Burton also presented Taylor with another stunner: an emerald and diamond necklace by Bulgari, estimated to be worth about $1 million to $1.5 million, which ultimately fetched $6.1 million. 


An emerald and diamond necklace by Bulgari, featuring 16 rectangular- and square-cut emeralds and set in platinum, was gifted to Taylor by former husband Richard Burton. It sold for $6.1 million at the Christie's auction.

Another top lot in the auction was a pair of natural pearl and diamond ear pendants by Bulgari that sold for nearly $1.99 million, nearly five times their estimate. The earrings were a gift from Aaron Frosch, attorney and friend to Elizabeth Taylor and Burton,  who bought them back in 1972. The earrings  were mounted in platinum with button-shaped natural pearl at the top descending via a circular-cut and marquise-cut diamond link to a detachable drop-shaped natural pearl.


Argenti Grand Opening
Bulgari natural pearl earrings, set in platinum and featuring diamonds, fetched nearly $1.99 million at the Christie's auction. Photo: Christie's Ltd. 2012.

Lot 7, a diamond and sapphire ring,  was a gift to Taylor from longtime friend Michael Jackson. Estimated at $80,000 to $120,000, it ultimately sold for $722,500. Featuring a pear-shaped diamond that weighed approximately 16.98 carats, it was trimmed with calibré-cut sapphires,  and mounted in platinum and white gold.


Another gift from Jackson was the stunning Michael Jackson Diamond Bracelet, a diamond-studded piece that resembled a wristwatch which went for $194,500 although it was valued at $30,000 to $50,000. At the center of the bracelet where a watch dial would be is a line of five rectangular-cut diamonds, within an arched baguette-cut and circular-cut diamond oval-shaped frame. It also has a three-row circular-cut diamond band and clasp of similar design, all mounted in platinum.

Longtime friend Michael Jackson gave this platinum diamond bracelet featuring a center line of five rectangular-cut diamonds within an arched baguette and circular-cut diamond oval-shaped frame to Taylor. It sold for $194,500 at the Christie's New York auction. Photo: Christie's Ltd. 2012.

Jackson and Burton weren't the only one indulging Taylor's penchant for platinum jewelry.

Consider the Mike Todd Diamond Ear Pendants, valued at $25,000 to $35,000, which went for $374,500. Todd, the third of Taylor's seven husbands gave the star the earrings in 1957.  The chandelier-style earrings feature what's called a "girandole" design, suspending three circular-cut diamond drop-shaped pendants from an openwork plaque of circular-cut diamond flowers and bows, to the circular-cut diamond flower surmount, mounted in platinum.

These platinum diamond ear pendants, each with a girandole design, featuring three circular-cut diamond-drop shaped pendants and an openwork plaque of diamond flowers and bows, fetched $374,500 at the Christie's auction. They were a gift to Taylor from former husband Mike Todd.

January 2012

Final Taylor tally: $156.8M worth of "magic"      
Dec 23, 2011
New York--The most telling sale in the recent auction of icon Elizabeth Taylor's jewelry at Christie's here wasn't necessarily the 33.19-carat "Elizabeth Taylor Diamond" that garnered $8.8 million or the dazzling "Le Peregrina" that fetched a cool $11.8 million.

It was this: Lot 136, A suite of paper imitation jewelry, which, as the name indicates, consisted of nothing more than paper cutouts of a necklace, earrings and a pair of ear clips. Yet that didn't stop an ambitious buyer from plunking down $6,875 for the pieces.

"It's magic," Rahul Kadakia, head of jewelry for Christie's Americas, said in a post-auction interview with National Jeweler. "It's not paper in this case. (It was) paper when someone else owned it. But this was Elizabeth Taylor's."


ALot 136 fetched more than 20 times its highest estimate. Yet that was not out of the ordinary for this extraordinary sale, which totaled $156.8 million in the end. That includes the online-only auction, a first for Christie's, which ended Saturday after fetching $9.5 million.

Kadakia, one of two auctioneers at the helm of the sale, said some pieces drew 400 to 500 times their estimated price. The auction shattered 12 world records, including most valuable jewelry auction in history and most valuable private collection of jewels sold at auction.

Previously, the sale of the Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor, which garnered an impressive $50.3 million in 1987, held the latter record. But even the fabled duchess--a woman so enchanting a man abdicated the throne just to be with her--couldn't hold a candle to Taylor.

"She was truly a global icon," Kadakia said. "You could go to any corner of the world and say her name. Everyone knew her."

Pricing the pieces:
Christie's used a simple formula when pricing the jewelry in Taylor's collection. Figure out of the market value of the materials included in the pieces, the gemstones and the metals, and then allow the market to decide how much they are willing to pay to own a piece that once occupied real estate in Taylor's jewelry box.

"How can you put a price on Elizabeth Taylor's magic?" Kadakia asks. "Do I know the answer to that? No. Did we find out? Absolutely."

It's a fine formula to use, say those in the industry who have experience with estate and antique jewelry.

Lee Siegelson, president of Siegelson, a New York-based company that serves as a source of and authority on rare jewelry and gemstones, said he was surprised by the prices garnered by some of the pieces that might not have had such a high artistic or extrinsic value but, apparently, had extreme emotional value to certain bidders.

"When it happens continually across the board, it reminds me that when two people really want something and can't live without it, it's ... not about what it's worth. It's about how much they're really prepared to pay," he said.

That emotional factor is not something that can be calculated prior to the auction, especially when dealing with a celebrity on the level of Taylor, who is famous for her acting career--she won two Oscars--eight marriages and for being one of the first celebrities to speak out on AIDS.

People, Siegelson said, "wanted a piece of Liz. And her jewelry is definitely something she lived with."

Heading into the auction, Kadakia, who has been in the jewelry business a total of 20 years, including 15 at Christie's, said he had a "secret" number in his head, an inner estimate as to what the sale would realize: $100 million. That number was obliterated by the end of the first night, when the auction total added up to $116 million.

He said the frenzy to come was evident with the first lot of the evening, a gold and multi-gem charm bracelet. The high estimate on the piece was $25,000 and the hammer went down at $275,000, with the bracelet selling for a total of $326,500 including buyer's premium.

"That was the first lot," Kadakia said. "I thought (at the time), it's going to be a long night, but it's going to be a lot of fun."

Pieces sold that first night include the aforementioned La Peregrina and the Elizabeth Taylor Diamond. The evening sale also featured the lot that would turn out to incite the most frenzied bidding of the entire auction-- Lot 56, the "Taj Mahal Diamond," a heart-shaped diamond on a gold and ruby chain by Cartier.  



Richard Burton gave Elizabeth Taylor the "Taj Mahal Diamond" when she turned 40 in 1972. Burton and Taylor were married twice, once from 1964 to 1974 and for less than a year between 1975 and 1976.

The auctioneer for that specific lot, Kadakia said he counted five competing buyers in the room who were up against another three "very active" bidders on the telephone. The diamond eventually sold for a total of $8.8 million after bidding started at $300,000.

It set a new world record for an Indian jewel sold at auction.

Sale of the century?  
Given the gap between the $156.8 million Elizabeth Taylor jewelry sale total and the second highest-grossing private collection, the $50.3 million Duchess of Windsor sale that took place in 1987, it's not difficult to conceive that the Taylor auction was a once-in-a-lifetime event.

"I think it changes the market," said Beth Anne Bonanno, who now runs her own jewelry consulting firm and previously spent 10 years working with estate and antique jewelry at Siegelson. "I think it's going to be great for jewelry sales for a while. It boosts everybody's desire for jewelry."

She said it also creates an interesting proposition down the road for the purchasers who paid such high prices for the pieces, which are not likely to re-emerge on the market for some time.


Argenti Grand Opening   

Like so many pieces, this gold charm bracelet sold for well above its high estimate of $15,000, garnering $182,500. The draw of charm bracelets in any auction is that they mark milestones in the wearer's life, said Beth Anne Bonanno of Elizabeth Anne Bonanno Consulting.

"How are you going to realize that price again?" she asks. "A lot of those pieces might go in the vault for a long time."

After the auction, Bonanno said she had a discussion with an industry colleague about whether or not the market would see another sale like this one any time soon. While there are some private individuals that no doubt harbor impressive collections of jewelry, there's not likely to be another famous individual with a collection quite like that of Taylor.

"I can't think of anybody that would fit the bill," she said.

Michael O'Connor, jewelry style expert and celebrity stylist, said most celebrities these days borrow jewelry to wear, but may still be building their own collections. Still, he said, those collections won't come close to Taylor's.

"The issue is that Elizabeth Taylor built such a huge and famous collection, that she could wear the jewelry she owned time and time again and people would still be very interested in covering the piece," O'Connor said, "Some jewelry collections of today's celebrities are beautiful, but none of them are of the magnitude or have the dramatic appeal that Elizabeth Taylor's had."

What ends up happening with today's celebrities, O'Connor explained, is that they don't want to be seen in the same jewelry over and over, and because they have opportunities to borrow jewelry, they don't have to repeat pieces.

"But Elizabeth could repeatedly wear her pieces, and it would still get coverage because they were so amazingly over-the-top," he said.

O'Connor said Taylor always portrayed herself as a huge jewelry lover, and during her time it was common for men to gift large, impressive pieces of jewelry.

"As a result, her collection ended up being a major collection, and I think that hers is probably the last of what we're going to see of that caliber," he said.

Kadakia, who is only 37 years old, agrees that the Taylor sale was a once-in-a-lifetime event.

"This was the sale of the century and the sale of my lifetime, and I'm still here at Christie's for a while," he said.

November 2011

Exceptional diamonds for auction at
Sotheby's New York  
"The Light of Golconda" possesses exceptional transparency due to its chemical makeup of virtually all carbon, and is estimated to realize in the region of $7 million at Sotheby's. 
 New York--Sotheby's will be holding its sale of "Magnificent Jewels" here on Dec. 7, offering significant diamonds, gemstones and period signed jewels.

"This December's Magnificent Jewels sale will cap off an exceptional year for jewelry at Sotheby's New York," Lisa Hubbard, chairman of North and South America for Sotheby's international jewelry division, said. "Each of our jewelry auctions this year has brought our strongest-ever result in its respective month."

The highlight of the auction is "The Light of Golconda," an exceptionally rare Golconda diamond ring featuring an old mine, cushion-shaped stone weighing 33 carats, estimated to realize in the region of $7 million.

"Every great diamond has something special about it, but this one is a truly magical stone," Hubbard said. "It has everything: its translucence is breathtaking...and the antique cushion cut that spreads out along the hand makes the stone look different every time you see it."

Located in south central India in what is today the state of Hyderabad, the ancient Kingdom of Golconda produced some of the most desirable diamonds in the world. The Kingdom no longer exists, but diamonds from those mines as sought after to this day, as they are part of less than 2 percent of the world's gems that are the most chemically pure.

Another leader of the sale will be a rare fancy intense pink diamond ring (below) with a cut-cornered square modified brilliant-cut diamond weighing 22 carats. Only two dozen diamonds of pure pink color weighing more than 10 carats have ever appeared at auction, putting this pink diamond in the same company as The Graff Pink. The ring is estimated to realize in the region of $13 million.


A one-of-a-kind 1924 Cartier platinum and diamond sautoir necklace (below) with a lavalliere pendant from the Art Deco period will also be offered at the auction, estimated to realize $750,000-$1 million. The necklace was formerly owned by Elisabeth Mills Reid, a lifelong supporter of the Red Cross who was born in 1858 to one of the wealthiest families in America, and Helen Rogers Reid, Elisabeth's daughter-in-law and former chairman of the New York Tribune. 



Jewelry featuring Kashmir diamonds and Burma rubies will also be offered at the auction, as well as designs from Van Cleef & Arpels, David Webb and George Headley.


October 2011

High Diamond Bids Expected for Christie's Auction

This Tiffany & Co. pear-shaped
fancy purplish-pink diamond ring
of more than 8 carats,
flanked on either side by a
triangular-cut diamond and mounted
in platinum is estimated to realize
$1.2-$1.8 million at Christie's
October sale of Magnificent Jewels.

New York-- Christie's New York will mark the start of the fall auction season with its sale of Magnificent Jewels on Oct. 18, 2011 an auction of more than 340 pieces of jewelry estimated to realize a total of $35 million.

"As we meet with collectors and dealers around the world in the run-up to this autumn season, it is clear that demand for rare and important jewelry remains as strong as ever," Rahul Kadakia, head of jewelry for Christie's Americas, said.

The top lot of the auction is the vivid yellow diamond (below), an un-mounted super-saturated fancy vivid pear-shaped diamond of nearly 33 carats. Estimated to realize $6-$8 million, the GIA ranks the stone among the rarest of gemstones in its class.

"Recent top prices for colored and colorless diamonds and gemstones have helped bring some spectacular jewels into the marketplace," Kadakia said.

Six large D-color diamonds will be offered at Christie's, with the largest being an oval-cut diamond ring (below) of nearly 26 carats by the jeweler Graff, mounted in platinum and estimated to realize $3.5-$5 million.

The sale also features a pear-shaped fancy vivid blue diamond ring of more than 3 carats, flanked by white pear-shaped diamonds, mounted in platinum and estimated to realize $2.5-$3 million.

A full-size version of Cartier's limited edition "Tutti Frutti" Art Deco bracelet, made up of diamonds and carved sapphires, rubies and emeralds, is estimated to realize $600,000-$800,000 at the auction. The sale will also include a 23-carat cushion-cut Columbian emerald ring and a 34-carat cushion-cut Burmese sapphire ring, among other lots.

September 2011

Dates Announced for Liz Taylor Collection Tour

New York--A collection of the late Elizabeth Taylor's jewelry, fashion, art and memorabilia will form a series of public exhibitions next month, touring numerous countries before culminating with four consecutive days of auctions at Christie's here.

The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor Exhibition Tour is as follows:

  • Moscow: Sept. 15 - 16, GUM, Red Square 3
  • London: Sept. 24 - 26, Christie's, 8 King St.., St. James
  • Los Angeles: Oct. 13 - 16, venue to be determined
  • Dubai: Oct. 23, Jumeirah Emirates Towers
  • Geneva: Nov. 11 - 12, Four Seasons Hotel, 33 qquai des Bergues
  • Paris: Nov. 16 - 17, Christie's, 9 avenue Matiignon
  • Hong Kong: Nov. 24 - 27, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center
  • New York: Dec. 3 - 12, Christie's, 20 Rockefeller Plaza

The auction will take place Dec. 13 - 16.

"The global tour and exhibition of Taylor's collection at Christie's will be a window into the world of a true icon, a rare woman who was at once an international film and fashion star, loving mother, successful businesswoman and generous humanitarian," Marc Porter, chairman and president of Christie's Americas, said.

In keeping with Taylor's dedication to humanitarian causes, a portion of the proceeds generated by exhibition admissions, events and publications related to the sales will the donated to the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF), which was founded in 1991 and provides funding to AIDS service organizations globally.

Taylor died in Los Angeles on March 23, at the age of 79, of congestive heart failure.

August 2011

World Record Prices Set at Geneva Auctions

Formerly in the collection of Princess Katharina Henckel von Donnersmarck, this emerald and diamond tiara fetched a record price at Sotheby's May 17, 2011 auction.

Geneva--An auction world-record price for a tiara was set when a rare emerald and diamond tiara realized more than $12 million at Sotheby's sale of magnificent and noble jewels here.

Previously estimated to garner between $5 million and $10 million, the tiara's sale also represents a world auction record of an emerald jewelry piece.

"The evening's results, across the board--in noble jewels, diamonds, colored gemstones, and pieces signed by the world's greatest jewelers--show the extraordinary appetite among connoisseurs for rarity, quality and provenance," David Bennett, chairman of Sotheby's jewelry department for Europe and the Middle East, said.

The Sotheby's sale realized a total of $89 million, with 90 percent sold by lot and 97 percent sold by value.

Included in the auction was the nearly $11 million sale of a 10-carat, rare fancy intense pink diamond ring (below) made for the third-highest price for a pink diamond at auction, as well as the ninth-highest price for a diamond at auction.

Christie's sale of magnificent jewels in Geneva on May 18, 2011 realized a total of more than $78 million, with 84 percent sold by lot. This auction also set world-record prices in various categories.

"The jewelry sale in Geneva was marked by strong bidding," Francois Curiel, president of Christie's Switzerland, said. "Forty-two years after our first sale in Switzerland, Geneva remains a vital, specialized auction center in today's global market."

"Quite exceptional prices were achieved at the May 18, 2011 auction in Geneva," Jean-Marc Lunel, head of the jewelry department at Christie's Geneva, said. "The market is particularly keen to buy quality diamonds in all sizes and colors, exemplified in the most successful Christie's jewelry sale ever held in Geneva."



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