From dazzling tiaras once worn by royals to iconic emeralds that Hollywood icons lavished themselves in, some of the world’s most amazing jewelry auctions of all time have involved record-breaking amounts of cash and serious competition between buyers.
Whether bidding for centuries-old jewels rich in history or the rarest diamonds that took more than a decade to carve, some of the world’s richest jewelers and collectors will stop at nothing to get their hands on exclusive pieces.
Dame Elizabeth Taylor’s extravagant jewelry collection is a great example of this and was one of the most anticipated sales in history when the Hollywood icon died aged 79 in 2011, leaving behind a fortune of more than $570 million.
Known for her lavish love affair with emeralds, pearls, sapphires and diamonds, the record-breaking auction of Taylor’s extravagant jewelry collection was fitting for a lady who never did anything by halves – marrying seven times (twice to Richard Burton) and starring in 50 films.
As well as holding the world record for a private jewelry collection sold at auction, the star’s pearl necklace, La Peregrina, became the most expensive pearl, while the iconic emerald and diamond brooch the star wore on her wedding day to Richard Burton now holds the record for the most expensive emerald jewel.
Having a famous owner certainly gives auction prices a boost, as a collection of jewelry that belonged to the late Duke and Duchess of Windsor proved in 2010. Despite missing several stones, the Duchess’s striking panther bracelet fetched more than three times its estimate, breaking the world record for the most expensive bracelet sold at auction.
Meanwhile, a rare emerald and diamond tiara made for the German prince’s wife in 1900 and rumored to have owned by Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III, later in the century, holds the world auction record for the most expensive tiara.
Rare gems dating back some 300 years are fetching even more at auction, including the 34.65-carat Princie Diamond, which is thought to be one of the largest in the world.
However, the prize for the highest price paid for any jewel at auction goes to the rare ‘Graff Pink Diamond’, which fetched $46.2 million and is ranked among the best 2% of diamonds in the world.
Read on to discover the most amazing jewelry auctions of all time.