National Jeweler Network

Jewelry Auctions

Christie’s announces record half-year results

By Hannah Connorton

July 17, 2014

The $23.8 million sale of the 13.22-carat “Winston Blue” helped Christie’s May 14 auction in Geneva achieve the status of highest total ever for a jewelry auction. Jewelry, watches and wines are among the categories at Christie’s that have seen a conside

New York--Auction house Christie’s is having a record-setting year so far, announcing a 22 percent increase in total sales and noting its 20th consecutive year of auction market leadership in the jewelry sector.

Christie’s luxury category, which includes jewelry, watches and wine sales, have totaled $455.5 million in the six-month period ended June 30, a 20 percent increase as compared with 2013. 

Colored diamonds have been instrumental in driving up the totals of Christie’s jewelry sales in the first half of the year. 

The largest fancy blue vivid diamond in the world sold for $23.8 million at Christie’s May 14 sale of Magnificent Jewels in Geneva. The diamond’s price brought the auction’s total to more than $150 million and set a new world auction record for a jewelry sale.

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Also in May, a 6.13-carat cushion-shaped fancy intense green diamond ring set a world auction word price for a fancy intense green diamond when it sold for $3.6 million. In June, a 5.50-carat fancy vivid pink diamond sold for $9.6 million at Christie’s New York, exceeding its pre-sale high estimate of $7.5 million. 

Christie’s total sales, including for categories outside luxury, have increased to $4.47 billion in the first half of the year, driven not only by an increase in the value of artwork but also through digital engagement and new buyers, the auction house said.

Christie’s launched the Watch Shop earlier this year, an online-only retail model that provides e-commerce consumers with a place to buy rare, vintage and luxury timepieces through a retail store format, rather than as an online auction.

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Christie’s said to date, 33 percent of its Watch Shop consumers are new customers. While the average watch price is around $10,000, the highest price achieved on the digital store is $58,000. 

The Watch Shop also is the most-viewed sale of any of Christie’s auctions or online sales to date in 2014, aiding in the watch category’s 10 percent growth in the first half of the year.

Online-only auctions also continue to attract new buyers and drive revenue for the auction house, with sales up 87 percent to $14.4 million in the half-year period. 

Christie’s first introduced online-only jewelry sales in 2013, and has held five of these auctions to date, offering pieces from brands including Chopard, Van Cleef & Arpels and Cartier. While the jewelry offered is at relatively lower price points as compared with its regular auctions, generally less than $50,000, the company has said the online-only sales have been instrumental in engaging new collectors from around the world.

The highest-grossing piece sold online this year (though not in an online-only auction) is a Van Cleef & Arpels diamond ring, which went for $2.8 million through Christie’s Live, part of its Magnificent Jewels sale held in Geneva in May.

Geographically, strong results in the first half of the year were recorded by region, with significant activity in the Americas. New York sales are up 31 percent to $1.76 billion, and sales in the EMERI region (Europe, the Middle East, Russia and India) have increased 22 percent to $1.45 billion. 

“Christie’s continued position of leadership is evidenced again in our half-year results. Yet more important is that we are meeting our goal of serving more clients than any other art business globally and at all levels of collecting,” said Christie’s CEO Steven Murphy.