Kashmir Sapphire Jewels Shine at New York Auctions

By Fang Block

Jewelry made with Kashmir sapphires fetched top dollar at auctions held in New York this week. 

At Christie’s, a 43.1-carat Kashmir sapphire-and-diamond bracelet surrounded by 67.9 carats of D color, internally flawless diamonds was purchased by Harry Winston for $6.3 million on Tuesday. 

Earlier, Bonhams sold a Kashmir sapphire-and-diamond brooch for $1.1 million, more than double its presale low estimate.

The Kashmir sapphire is the finest and rarest variety of blue sapphire, sourced from the Kashmir region during the 18th century. Due to excessive mining, the sapphire mines were nearly depleted in the early 19th century. These velvet blue jewels have become a symbol of nobility and royalty.

Two other Kashmir sapphire pieces, both by high brands, achieved more than $1 million at Christie’s. A 21.72-carat, cabochon Kashmir sapphire ring by Van Cleef & Arpels from 1917 sold for $1.7 million; and an Art Deco, 12.64-carat Kashmir sapphire-and-diamond brooch by Cartier realized $1.53 million.

The top lot, a 43.1-carat Kashmir sapphire-and-diamond bracelet, had a presale estimate of between $5 million and $7 million. The New York-based diamond jeweler Harry Winston paid $6.03 million for the piece.

“We are very proud to have purchased this extraordinary Kashmir Sapphire, which joins the ranks of the finest diamonds and colored gemstones acquired by Winston to form our superb Legacy Collection,” Nayla Hayek, CEO of Harry Winston, said in a statement.

The top lot at Bonhams, the Kashmir sapphire-and-diamond brooch, circa 1910, was offered from the estate of Mary Lee Hermann, who died in August 2019 at age 97. A philanthropist from St. Louis, Mo., she was married to Robert R. Hermann, a businessman who made his money selling his namesake company to Staples. He was also a founder of the National Soccer League in the 1960s. He died in April at age 97.

The Mary Lee Hermann collection of signed jewels, including examples from David Webb, Verdura, Cartier, Tiffany, Buccellati, and Bulgari, was 100% sold for a total of $364,000, Bonhams said.


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