Highlight From Upcoming Bonhams Fine Jewellery Auction


Every year in the run up to Christmas the auction house Bonhams hosts a ‘jewellery lunch’ where those attending are served up not only exquisite food, but also pieces from the upcoming auction. This year the guests were invited to see lots from an auction of fine jewellery taking place on December 4th.

For December’s sale Bonhams have chosen 121 valuable pieces, but the undisputed king of them all is a Kashmir sapphire. The cushion-cut gem weighs 14.13 carats and as the certificate from the American Gemological Laboratories attests, hasn’t been heat treated. I don’t think it’s worth spelling out just how rare these sapphires are – you will already know if you’ve read my article on stones from Kashmir. The estimate for this lot – number 121 – is £600,000-£800,000.



The most unique pieces of jewellery will always find a buyer – that’s a fact. This was confirmed to me by Jonathan Shirley of estate and investment agents Knight Frank. He spoke at the lunch about investing money in luxury goods, and it turns out that over the past ten years investment in jewellery has risen by 150%, 52% of which was in the last five years. This year there’s been a rise, albeit modest, of 2%. The average price of a coloured diamond  has risen by 117% (the 14.62 carat Oppenheimer Blue was sold of 57 million Swiss Francs!). I found interesting the fact that pearls too have risen in value by 99% in the last five years. 


Bonhams London 4 Dec-16


But let’s return to the 40 pieces that were presented to us by Bonhams. To me, one of the most curious jewels was a broach made by the oldest jewellery house in Britain  – Garrard. Frances Lois, the Countess of Rosse, approached the jewellers at Garrard with the intention of remaking her emerald earrings into a new piece of jewellery. So they became part of a brooch in the form of a dragonfly, made from silver, gold and diamonds. The piece dates from around 1910, and in its original box there’s note which records that the brooch was made from a pair of earrings. The diamonds that were added belonged to the Rosse family and the resulting piece was worn by Frances Lois at the coronation in 1911. Pendants with briolette cut emeralds are still part of the design and can be removed and worn separately. 


It’s impossible not to mention the Cartier brooch decorated with an animal loved the world over – the panther. She lies imperiously on the branch of a tree made of lapis lazuli, and looks down with her emerald eyes. The body of the beast is made from yellow gold and is encrusted with diamonds and polished sapphires. The brooch was made in 1995, but the jewel-cat first featured in Cartier’s pieces the first half of the 20th Century. It became their trademark in the second. 


You’ll see my ten favourite pieces from Bonhams listed below. If you want to take a look at the full list, then head to Bonham’s website or flick through the catalogue.


Diamond Necklace. Est £40,000 – £60,000

A Diamond Necklace, circa 1820, £40,000- 60,000

A Diamond Necklace, circa 1820. Featuring detachable pear shaped diamond pendant


Art Deco Emerald Ring. Est £150,00 – £200,000

Art Deco Single Stone Emerald Ring, Circa 1920.

Art Deco Single Stone Emerald Ring, Circa 1920. Featuring step-cut emerald, weighing 14.70 carats and decorated with rose cut diamonds


Sapphire and Diamond Bee Brooch. Est £10,000 – £15,000

Bonhams London 4 Dec-Lot 14

Sapphire and Diamond Bee Brooch, with ruby eyes, circa Early 20th Century. Total 3.55 carats


Emerald and Diamond Dragonfly Brooch. Est £30,000 – £40,000

An Emerald and Diamond Dragonfly Brooch, circa 1910

An Emerald and Diamond Dragonfly Brooch, circa 1910. Mounted in silver and yellow gold, diamonds total 13.25 carats


Pearl, Turquoise, Sapphire and Diamond Necklace and Earflap Suit. Est £15,000 – £20,000

Van Cleef & Arpels Cultured Necklace, circa 1975

Van Cleef & Arpels Cultured Necklace, Pearl, Turquoise, Sapphire and Brilliant- Cut Diamonds, circa 1975. Diamonds approximately 6.00 carats


Ruby Diamond and Gold Chocker. Est £6,000 – £8,000

Andrew Grima, Ruby Diamond and Gold Chocker, circa 1986-7

Andrew Grima, Ruby Diamond and 18k Gold Chocker, circa 1986-7. Brilliant-cut diamonds total 1.90 carats


Sapphire and Diamond Flower Brooch. Set £10,000 – £15,000

Mounted by Boucheron, A Sapphire and Diamond Flower Brooch, circa 1970.

Mounted by Boucheron, A Sapphire and Diamond Flower Brooch, circa 1970. Sapphires approximately 9.10 carats, diamonds 8.90 carats


Lapis Lazuli, Onyx, Emerald, Sapphire and Diamond Brooch. Est £120,000 – £180,000

Cartier Panthère Brooch, Lapis Lazuli, Onyx, Emerald, Sapphire and Diamond, circa 1995

Cartier Panthère Brooch, Lapis Lazuli, Onyx, Emerald, Sapphire and Diamond, circa 1995. The body is pave-set with brilliant-cut diamonds.


Topaz and Diamond Cross Pendant. Est £50,000 – £60,000

An Imperial Cross Pendant, Topaz and Diamond, circa 1830

An Imperial Cross Pendant, Topaz and Diamond, circa 1830. Circular-cut topaz with old brilliant and rose-cut diamonds, total 7.30 carats


An Onyx, Emerald, Sapphire and Diamond Ring. Est £30,000 – £40,000

An Onyx, Emerald, Sapphire and Diamond

An Onyx, Emerald, Sapphire and Diamond ‘Parrot’ Ring, by Cartier, circa 1995. Eyes set with circular-cut emeralds, diamonds approximately 3.50 carats