Sign up to our email newsletter

Be the first to know about the latest in luxury lifestyle news and travel, delivered straight to your inbox each week.

Sign up to our email newsletter

Be the first to know about the latest in luxury lifestyle news and travel, delivered straight to your inbox each week.

Most Amazing Jewelry Auctions of All Time

By Laura Walkinshaw |  September 26 2013


winston legacy2From 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.

Most expensive jewelry collection – The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor, $115 million

taj mahal necklace_When Dame Elizabeth Taylor’s extensive collection of jewelry went to auction at Christie’s in New York last year, it marked one of the most anticipated sales in history.

Breaking the world record for the most valuable private collection of jewels sold at auction, a staggering 26 pieces fetched more than $1 million, while six were sold for over $5 million.

The stand-out piece from the auction was Taylor’s Cartier pearl necklace, La Peregrina, which fetched $11,842,500 and broke the world record for the most valuable historic pearl and for any pearl jewel sold at auction.

Another record-breaking sale was the Cartier-designed Taj Mahal diamond and ruby necklace, given to Taylor on her 40th birthday by Richard Burton, which was sold for $8.8 million, setting the world record for an Indian jewel. A 33.19-carat diamond ring – another gift from Burton – also fetched $8.8 million.

Image credit: Christie’s Images Ltd. 2012

Most expensive ring – The Graff Pink, $46 million

graff pink_

The sale of a rare pink diamond set a world record in 2010 when London jewelry dealer Laurence Graff bought it at a Sotheby’s Geneva auction for a staggering $46,158,674, the highest price paid at auction for any diamond and for any jewel.

Christened the ‘Graff Pink Diamond’ after the auction, the jewel has been assessed as a type IIa diamond and ranks in the top 2% of the world’s diamonds.

The previous record was held by Christie’s for the $24.3 million sale of a blue, 35.56-carat Wittelsbach-Graff diamond, which Graff also bought.

Graded “Fancy Intense Pink” by the Gemological Institute of America, the 24.78-carat Sotheby’s jewel was owned by renowned America jeweler Harry Winston until the 1950s.

Most expensive colored diamond – The Princie Diamond, $39.3 million

princie diamond

The Princie Diamond set a new record for any jewel sold at Christie’s when it fetched more than $39.3 million in the auction house’s New York Spring Magnificent Jewels sale.

The previous record for the most expensive jewel sold at Christie’s was the $24.3 million sale of a blue, 35.56-carat Wittelsbach-Graff diamond, which was bought by London jeweler Laurence Graff.

It is thought that the fancy intense pink, 34.65-carat Princie Diamond jewel, assessed as Type IIa – the most chemically pure type of diamond – is one of the biggest in the world.

Originating from India’s ancient diamond mines of Golconda, the jewel once belonged to rulers of one of the wealthiest provinces of Mughal India.

Most expensive colorless diamond – Winston Legacy diamond, $26.7 million

winston legacy2When the biggest white diamond in the world went under the hammer earlier this year, it came as no surprise that it broke world records for the exceptional amount of money New York jeweler Harry Winston paid for it: more than $26.7 million.

The 101.73ct pear-shaped jewel – the largest D colour flawless Type IIA diamond ever to be offered for auction – came from a Botswana mine and took 21 months to be carved.

After buying it at Christie’s Sale of Magnificent Jewels in Geneva, the diamond – formerly known as the ‘101’ – was named ‘The Winston Legacy’.

 

Most expensive tiara – Emerald and Diamond Tiara, $12.7 million

tiara_A dazzling tiara believed to have belonged to Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III, reached a record-breaking $12.7 million when it went under the hammer in 2011.

Featuring 11 polished, pear-shaped emeralds from Colombia, the 500-carat tiara was made for German prince Guido Henckel von Donnersmarch’s second wife Katharina in around 1900.

Sold at a Sotheby’s auction in Geneva, the rare emerald and diamond tiara holds the world auction record for the most expensive tiara and emerald jewelry ever sold. It also smashed the world auction record for a piece of antique jewelry.

Most expensive pearl – Elizabeth Taylor’s La Peregrina, $11.8 million

la peregrina_462_

The star buy when Dame Elizabeth Taylor’s extensive collection of jewelry went under the hammer was the Hollywood icon’s Cartier pearl necklace, La Peregrina.

Sold for $11,842,500, it broke the world record for the most valuable historic pearl and for any pearl jewel sold at auction.

The 16th century La Peregrina pearl, which dates back to the 1500s when it was found in the Gulf of Panama, was given to Taylor by Richard Burton in 1969, after he bought it at auction for $37,000.

Years later, Cartier set La Peregrina with pearls, diamonds and rubies at the request of Taylor.

Image credit: Christie’s Images Ltd. 2012.

Most expensive earrings – The Imperial Cushions, $9.3 million

earrings_A pair of spectacular diamond earrings, each set with a cushion-shaped diamond from the Golconda mines in south-central India, broke world records when sold to an anonymous buyer for an eye-watering $9.3 million in 2011.

Each featuring D color, Golconda Type IIa diamond, the platinum-mounted earrings became the most expensive ever sold at auction when they went under the hammer at Christie’s Hong-Kong Magnificent Jewels Spring Sale in 2011.

It is extremely rare to be able to match two diamonds of this quality that are over 23 carats each.

Image credit: Christie’s Images Ltd. 2012.

Most expensive brooch – Elizabeth Taylor’s Bulgari emerald and pendant brooch, $6.5 million

emerald and diamond brooch_

Dame Elizabeth Taylor’s first piece of Bulgari jewelry fetched more than $6.5 million when it went under the hammer at ‘The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor’ at Christie’s in New York last year, becoming the most expensive emerald jewel sold at auction.

The iconic brooch was regularly worn by Taylor throughout her life, although most memorably in 1964 on her wedding day to Richard Burton, from whom the jewelry had been an engagement gift.

Set with diamonds and a 23.46-carat Colombian emerald, the brooch was the biggest seller in the suite of emerald and diamond jewelry at the auction.

Image credit: Christie’s Images Ltd. 2012.

MOST EXPENSIVE BRACELET – WALLIS SIMPSON’S PANTHER BRACELET, $7 MILLION

panther bracelet_A striking panther bracelet that belonged to American socialite Wallis Simpson fetched more than three times its estimate when it went under the hammer at a Sotheby’s auction in 2010.

Reaching a record price of $7 million, the onyx-and-diamond bracelet became the most expensive bracelet ever sold at auction – despite having several stones missing. Made by Cartier designer Jeanne Toussaint in 1952, it was rumored to have been bought by singer Madonna.

The bracelet was among a number of jewelry items sold by Sotheby’s in London in 2010 which belonged to the late duke and duchess of Windsor. The love affair between the two led to Edward VIII’s abdication.

Most expensive necklace – Red Scarlet, $5.1 million

ruby necklace_Buyers at last year’s Christie’s Hong Kong auction were struck by the ‘Red Scarlet’ necklace, which fetched $5.1 million – making it one of the most expensive necklaces ever sold at auction.

Created by world-renowned jewelry designer James W Currens for Hong Kong jeweler Fai Dee, the necklace features 26 oval-shaped ‘Pigeon’s Blood’ rubies, which were sourced from the Mogok Stone Tract in Upper Burma, known for its fine quality jewels.

The beauty of each ruby, weighing between 1.27 and 5.38 carats, is highlighted with marquise and pear-shaped diamonds, which have been mounted in platinum and 18k yellow gold.

Image credit: Christie’s Images Ltd. 2012.

Related Articles

Related Articles

Subscribe

Sign up to our email newsletter

Be the first to know about the latest in luxury lifestyle news and travel, delivered straight to your inbox each week.

Subscribe to magazine

Allow our ultra-luxe destination guides and exclusive itineraries to inspire your next vacation.