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Weighing in at a mind-blowing 20.47 carats and sold for $2.65 million, a cushion-cut diamond with blinding clarity led the Magnificent Jewels live sale at Christie’s Rockefeller Center flagship on June 12.
The Magnificent Jewels sale was composed of 189 exquisite lots such as this, but the arguable stars belonged to the Rockefeller Collection. Nineteen spectacular pieces—several of which dazzled as sets—constituted the final components of the historic Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller auctions, which shattered all estate sale records when they amassed an astounding total of $832.6 million.
The Rockefeller Collection mostly comprised mid-century pieces by Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co., Van Cleef & Arpels, and Raymond Yard, who, according to Christie’s on-site specialist Jean Kim, was one of David Rockefeller’s personal favorites.
When Rockefeller met Yard at the turn of the century, the jeweler was in the employ of the American jeweler Marcus & Co. Rockefeller would encourage Yard to start his own company, and when he eventually did, Rockefeller was one of Yard’s principle patrons.
Two of Yard’s monumental rings—one, a $372,500 Kashmir sapphire and diamond ring weighing in at five carats; the other, a radiant 5.63-carat diamond ring, which garnered over three times its minimum appraisal of $80,000 when it sold for $287,500—hit the auction block on June 12. The jeweler’s aesthetic was dynamic, ranging from ornate Art Deco pieces dripping in diamonds and gemstones to a more subdued three-piece floral moonstone suite accented with rubies. Needless to say, “Raymond Yard was best known for using high-quality gems,” as Kim tells Culture Trip.
The Rockefellers also owned a number of extraordinary pieces by Van Cleef & Arpels, including detachable necklaces that converted into bracelets and three Mystery Set lots, consisting of sapphire and diamond earrings (which sold for $312,500); a $162,500 sapphire and diamond brooch; and a set of two necklaces, sold collectively for over $180,000.
“The Mystery Set is a trademark of Van Cleef & Arpels,” Kim explains. “When you look at the stones, you can’t see the setting. Each little stone is cut with grooves on the side so that they slide into a metal railing. The purpose of the mystery set is to completely hide the settings. It’s extremely painstaking to make jewelry like this, and Van Cleef & Arpels perfected the art.”
But one of the most dazzling highlights of the Rockefellers’ jewelry collection was the four-piece Van Cleef & Arpels peridot suite—a personal favorite of Peggy Rockefeller’s given the frequency with which she was photographed wearing the full set. The suite sold for nearly $350,000.
As the final installment of the Peggy and David Rockefeller Collection, this edition of Christie’s Magnificent Jewels auction held particular significance.
The Magnificent Jewels sale coincided with a two-part online sale of luxury and costume jewelry that ran through June 14.
Christie’s online Handbags & Accessories sale runs through June 19, while its fine wines and spirits sale hit the live auction block on June 14 and 15. The first part of an online sale featuring luxury watches is on until June 21 and the second part will run from June 28 through July 12.