Christie’s Magnificent Jewels Auctions Russian Imperial Emerald

Faberge aquamarine and diamond tiara, image courtesy Christie's

Christie’s Magnificent Jewels auction in Geneva on 15th May 2019 offered a superb selection of pieces, many of which, including a Russian Imperial Emerald, achieved well over their estimates.

The Imperial Emerald of Grand Duchess Vladimir of Russia is a pear-shaped emerald of 75.61 carats, with pear, circular and marquise-cut diamonds on a necklace of platinum and gold. On an estimate of CHF 2,300,000 – CHF 3,500,000 (£1.8m-£2.7m) it realised CHF 4,335,000 (£3.4m).

The second largest stone in the collection of Catherine the Great (1729-1796), the emerald passed through the collections of Tsars and Grand Dukes until it became the property of John D Rockefeller Jr. and other private collectors.

Imperial Emerald, image courtesy Christie’s

This pear-shaped emerald is not only an extraordinarily beautiful stone, with a saturated brilliant green colour and amazing purity, a rarity gemologically for an emerald of 75 carats, but it is unique for its imperial provenance, reflecting the splendour of the Romanov dynasty, and a rare gem to survive the Russian Revolution.

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A Van Cleef & Arpels ruby and diamond bib necklace, the property of a prestigious European family, realised CHF 2,415,000 (£1.9) on an estimate of CHF 400,000 – CHF 600,000 (£314,000-£470,000). Featuring oval and cushion-shaped rubies, circular, marquise and baguette-cut diamonds, the 33.4cm gold necklace originated in Burma.

Van Cleef & Arpels ruby and diamond bib necklace, image courtesy Christie’s

Formerly the property of Grand Duchess Alexandra of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, a rare Fabergé aquamarine and diamond tiara dated to 1904 (see image at top) realised CHF 1,035,000 (£812,000) on an estimate of CHF 230,000 – CHF 340,000 (£180,000-£266,000).

Consisting of nine graduated pear-shaped aquamarines, cushion and rose-cut diamonds, this tiara was a wedding gift from Frederick Francis IV, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin to his bride Princess Alexandra of Hanover and Cumberland. His mother Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia, a keen Fabergé collector, encouraged the Grand Duke to marry young and the wedding was scheduled for June 1904 when Frederick was 22 years old and Alexandra, 21.


On 7 June 1904, the day of the wedding, Princess Alexandra wore the traditional Hanoverian nuptial crown. The diamond-set coronet that had been in her family for more than a century was commissioned in 1761 for the wedding of King George III of England and Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Her own special wedding gift from the Grand Duke was to follow a month later. During the Court Ball organized by the city of Schwerin on 8 July, Princess Alexandra was recorded wearing a pink silk dress with pearl necklaces and an aquamarine tiara.

Harry Winston ruby and diamond ring, image courtesy Christie’s

Perhaps surprisingly, the item achieving the highest bids at Christie’s magnificent Jewels in Geneva was a relatively modest-seeming ruby and diamond Harry Winston ring, ‘the property of a princess’. The cushion-shaped ruby of 22.86 carats originating in Burma, with half-moon diamonds, on a platinum ring size signed ‘Winston’, achieved CHF 7,198,500 (£5.6m) on an estimate of CHF 2,000,000 – CHF 3,000,000 (1.5m-£2.3m).


Described as “an encyclopedia of the finest jewellery, with lots ranging from a late 19th century Tiffany & Co. emerald and diamond necklace to an important collection of modern Cartier pieces, alongside our selection of retro jewels from the 1940s to the late 1950s”, the auction achieved a total of CHF 81,620,500 (£64m).

See also:

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