Jean Ghika, director, Bonhams jewellery department UK and Europe.

A rare British-owned gemstone sold for a record price of $30,000 (£19,699) per carat at Bonhams Fine Jewellery sale in London.

The sale, held on September 24, achieved £5.16 million, with 87% lots sold by value and 109 lots going to new owners.

The Hope Spinel was the highlight of the sale, smashing its pre-sale estimate of £150,000-£200,000 as a result of competitive bidding on the phones. It sold for £962,500, achieving a new world record price of $30,000 per carat. This gem was bought by a private telephone bidder.


The second top lot of the auction was another icon: an Art Deco enamel, gem-set and diamond ‘Tutti Frutti’ bracelet by Cartier. Made in New York in 1929, the bracelet, with a highly articulated geometric strap and vine motifs, was sold for £458,500 to a telephone bidder.

The market for top quality, natural pearls continues to remain strong according to the September sale results. A circular natural pearl ring, measuring 16.71 x 10.94mm, and set between baguette-cut diamonds shoulders sold for four times its pre-sale estimate of £50,000 to £70,000, achieving £206,500.

Signed jewellery also performed extremely well with a rare diamond ‘Torsade’ bangle, by Suzanne Belperron, circa 1932, capturing the attention of bidders worldwide. The highly desirable collectors’ piece was estimated at £40,000-£60,000,but after bidding from the saleroom, online and over the phones, the bangle sold for £164,500.

Other key lots included sapphire and diamond ring, by Boucheron. The rectangular step-cut sapphire, weighing 7.54 carats, between tapered baguette and brilliant-cut diamond shoulders outstripped its pre-sale estimate of £40,000-£60,000 and sold for £110,500. A Belle Époque diamond single-stone ring, circa 1910, also attracted attention. The old hexagonal-cut diamond, weighing 8.18 carats, had a pre-sale estimate of £30,000-£50,000 and sold for £80,500.

Jean Ghika, Bonhams head of jewellery for UK and Europe, says: “We had an exceptional sale with a number of very rare items that naturally attracted interest worldwide. Demand for coloured gemstones, signed jewellery and period pieces continued to remain strong. The sale represented a great start to the jewellery auction season this autumn and winter.

Period and art deco earrings were also strong performers at the auction according to Bonhams. Examples included a pair of Art Deco diamond pendent earrings, by Cartier, circa 1925, which sold for more than five times their pre-sale estimate of £20,000-£30,000, being successfully bought by a telephone bidder for £134,500.

Further on in the sale, a pair of early 19th century girandole earrings, with a pre-sale estimate of £18,000-£20,000, achieved £86,500.

Ghika adds: “These two sets of earrings were wonderful examples of classic period earrings, beautifully designed and in their original condition.  These factors make them highly desirable along with the fact that they are extremely wearable today.”

Bonhams is now expecting the strong market to be reflected during its next two Fine Jewellery sales in New York on October 13 and Hong Kong on November 30.

Bonhams sells more jewellery lots each year than any other international house and has more dedicated jewellery auctions annually.

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The Hope Spinel. Picture Credit: Bonhams