Sotheby’s Catharine Becket Visits GIA Alumni Ontario Chapter
Last night I attended the GIA Alumni Association Ontario Chapter’s meeting for a special presentation by Sotheby’s New York Senior Specialist, Vice President Catharine Becket G.G. (GIA) for a rare look into The World of Fine Jewels at Auction.
After a lovely Thai meal with my colleague at Marche Restaurant we nestled into the private Swiss Hut room at Marche to be greeted by the lovely Leila Haikonen, General Manager of the Diamond Bourse of Canada and Glen Brown, President of the GIA Alumni Association Ontario Chapter. The GIA crowd are always friendly and thirsty for knowledge about loose diamonds, gemstones, pearls and basically all things jewellery.
It was nice to see some familiar faces and to meet some new alumni members. Before the seminar got underway I found myself seated between two natural fancy color diamond dealers and one collector. We had a delightful conversation about investing in natural fancy color diamonds and what a tremendous store of wealth they continue to be. This theme was reiterated when Catharine noted in her presentation that the caliber of jewelry offered at Sotheby’s auctions are a great way to “park your money”, particularly for those living in countries with unstable economies as these pieces are highly portable.
In-between viewing some extraordinary slides of jewelry sold at Sotheby’s and listening to fascinating stories behind the jewels and how they get exhibited around the world with Catharine jet setting around the globe with fine jewels in her possession (being tightly guarded) – we got the inside peak into the world of fine jewelry at auction.
Asia (including India) continues to show an extremely strong presence in the auction arena for fine jewels with nearly 40% of sales coming from this region. We saw a few fancy color diamonds broke auction records, such as The Mellon Blue Diamond which made history and headlines when it sold for a staggering $32,645,000 in 2014. Catherine explained that the Vivid Blue diamond was so deep and exquisite that it almost didn’t look real in person.
Records continue to be broken year over year for these exceptional pieces at Sotheby’s auctions which include: color diamonds, D Flawless colorless diamonds at the 100 carat mark, rubies, emeralds and natural pearls. Cultured pearls are really the only type of pearls and jewelry that haven’t performed well at auction. Graining and strong fluorescence (particularly yellow in color diamonds) will also fetch lower prices at auction. In the end, Catherine stated that the piece has to be beautiful and though a GIA Grading Report is imperative people shouldn’t get quite so hung up particulars such as table size, or diamond type because it is the rarity and the magnificence in each piece that makes them so valuable.
Catherine imparted upon us that there is a significant shortage of rare and exceptional historical jewelry pieces available as many of the pieces passed down from royalty and aristocratic family heirlooms have been claimed over the years. The jewelry has been dispersed and locked away by family members, investors and/or dealers.
In terms of trends, jewelry from Van Cleef & Arpels (particularly from the 60’s and 70’s) always do well.
A rise in jewelry from the eighties is making its way to auction with Bulgari and David Webb designs leading the pack at auction.
It is always a wonderful evening being surrounded by such knowledge, passion and so many GIA gemologists in one room. It is a privilege to be a GIA Alumni and I’m already looking forward to the next event!