Bonhams sets new world auction record with Sri Lankan sapphire ring

A sapphire and diamond ring by Van Cleef & Arpels featuring a rectangular-cut sapphire weighing 43.16 carats set a new world record, selling for US$1,560,000 (HK$12,084,000; £979,000) on 23rd November at the sale of ‘Eight Exceptional Jewels from a Private Collection’ at Bonhams in Hong Kong.

Bidders competed fiercely for the striking ring, which at US$36,000 per carat, went well over its pre-sale estimate of US$550,000 – 650,000 (HK$4,260,000 – 5,050,000; £350,000 – 420,000) and broke the previous record for a Sri Lankan sapphire, which was US$26,000 per carat. The total for the sale also far exceeded the pre-sale estimate realizing US$4,369,000 (HK$33,856,500; £2,736,000). The total realized across the two Hong Kong jewelry sales held on 23rd November was US$7,555,116 (HK$58,553, 250; £4,715, 900).

In 1969, Jacques Arpels traveled to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in person to acquire the exceptional 43.16 carat sapphire. The perfectly crystalline, flawless stone was subsequently mounted in a ring and flanked by two pear-shaped diamonds. This ring demonstrates the jeweler’s expertise in sourcing stones of extraordinary depth and quality.

Van Cleef & Arpels has long been known as one of the most innovative and well established jewelers in the world. Members of the Royal family such as the Prince of Wales and A-list celebrities including Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly bought some of their finest pieces from the renowned jeweler. It was here that the Prince of Wales bought Wallis Simpson the sapphire-and-diamond clip and bracelet, which she wore to set off her blue satin Mainbocher wedding gown. Prince Rainier ordered the pearl-and-diamond necklace with matching bracelet and earrings on his engagement to Grace Kelly and John F. Kennedy found the emerald-and-diamond ring he slipped on the third finger of Jacqueline Bouvier’s left hand.