Auctions

Christie’s, Sotheby’s Jewelry Sales Down in 2018

AuctionsJan 04, 2019

Christie’s, Sotheby’s Jewelry Sales Down in 2018

Christie’s total dropped 12 percent, while Sotheby’s declined 25 percent compared with 2017.

At Christie’s Geneva’s Magnificent Jewels sale, the 19-carat “Winston Pink Legacy” broke an auction world record for price per carat for a pink diamond when it sold for $50.4 million.

New York—In 2017, Christie’s and Sotheby’s jewelry auction sales earned them more than a combined $1 billion, but in 2018 they missed that mark.

Christie’s has reported $492.3 million in worldwide jewelry auction sales in 2018, down from $556.7 million in 2017, a drop of nearly 12 percent. Sotheby’s total jewelry sales, meanwhile, totaled $414 million in 2018 after hitting $551.3 million in 2017, representing about a 25 percent decline.

Of Christie’s 2018 sales, $484.5 million—or about 98 percent of the total—was garnered at live auction and $7.8 million online (down from $8.9 million in online sales in 2017).

Both auction houses, however, sold some important pieces, with several setting records.  

Christie’s largest jewelry sale of the year happened in November in Geneva. A 18.95-carat pink diamond ring dubbed “The Winston Pink Legacy” after its purchase by Harry Winston sold for $50.4 million, or $2.7 million per carat, a record per-carat price for a pink diamond sold at auction.

The Winston Pink Legacy actually topped all of Christie’s 2017 jewelry sales as well.

As that sale demonstrated, color was the theme of the auction house’s top jewelry lots in 2018.

The second largest sale was $20.5 million, or $2.6 million per carat, for an 8.01-carat pear-shaped fancy vivid blue IF diamond necklace by Moussaeieff that sold in Hong Kong in May, followed by the $18.3 million, or $2.3 million per carat, fetched by a Bulgari 8.08-carat cushion-cut fancy vivid blue diamond ring in New York last month.


The No. 4 selling lot for Christie’s last year was “The Peacock Necklace,” pictured above. The necklace features 109.08 carats of Kashmir sapphires and set a world auction record for a Kashmir sapphire necklace, garnering almost $15 million in Hong Kong in November.

The fifth highest-selling piece was a 15.56-carat heart-shaped fancy intense pink diamond pendant necklace that went for $9.5 million, or $612,950 per carat. 

Christie’s noted that 2018 marked its 25th consecutive year as the leading global jewelry auction house by sales.

Sotheby’s also facilitated purchases of some extravagant jewels in 2018, but couldn’t match the extraordinary 2017 sale of the “The CTF Pink” (formerly called “The Pink Star), purchased by Chow Tai Fook for $71.2 million.

The auction house did, however, set a record for highest overall sale of royal jewels when it garnered a total of $53.1 million—more than seven times the pre-sale total estimate—for its Royal

Jewels from the Bourbon-Parma Family” auction.

The white-glove sale, in which 90 percent of lots sold above their high estimates, surpassed the total of $50.3 million that the Duchess of Windsor’s jewelry garnered in 1987.


The highlight of the Bourbon-Parma auction was a natural pearl and diamond pendant from Marie Antoinette’s personal collection (seen above), which earned $36.2 million, setting a record for a natural pearl.

And just as they did at Christie’s, colorful stones also made an impact for Sotheby’s in 2018, most notably the Ai Diamond, a 5-carat fancy vivid blue diamond ring that garnered $13.8 million in Hong Kong in early October.

Though jewelry was down for Sotheby’s in 2018, the auction house did note that watch sales were up 60 percent year-over-year, totaling $88.5 million.

Ashley Davisis the senior editor, fashion at National Jeweler, covering all things related to design, style and trends.

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