By Ashley Davis
From left to right: “Cork Dork” author Bianca Bosker, Bonhams CEO and Group Jewelry Director Matthew Girling and Bonhams Director of U.S. Jewelry Susan Abeles
Ahead of its New York Fine Jewelry sale last week, Bonhams hosted a special event for select collectors and editors I was able to attend: a tasting in which wines were paired with the auction’s top lots.

Surprisingly, there is a great deal of synergy between the two categories, to the point where I wondered why I had never thought of pairing wine with fine jewelry before.

Bonhams had its own jewelry experts, CEO and Group Jewelry Director Matthew Girling and Director of U.S. Jewelry Susan Abeles, on hand to lead the tasting, along with special guest Bianca Bosker, journalist and author of The New York Times best-selling book “Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste.”

A fantastic idea for in-store events or press previews, here’s how Bonhams and Bosker paired wine with jewels for a multi-sensory experience.

Girling and Abeles used the sale’s top lot, a 16.9-carat diamond ring that sold for $1.8 million, to illustrate a diamond’s characteristics and how it is graded--the 4Cs.

As the diamond was passed around the room by the wait staff, Bosker spoke about the characteristics by which one judges wine, including sweetness (also known as level of “dryness”), acidity, tannins, body and color.

She paired the impressive diamond with a Wagner-Stempel Riesling Hollberg GG 2015, a surprisingly dry Riesling, using it to illustrate how to properly taste the wine while identifying the aforementioned characteristics.

Just as a gemstone’s value is partially determined by where it was mined, a wine’s value and characteristics are also determined in part by where its grapes were harvested.

The auction had several impressive sapphires for sale, and the Bonhams team used them as examples to highlight the significance of different provenances, which affect stone quality and/or value. One grouping of jewels featured stones from Kashmir, while another featured sapphires from Ceylon.

Bosker, meanwhile, had the group taste a Verdet Aurelien Gevrey Chambertin 2012, a pinot noir, to illustrate a wine that is a good representative of a classic wine region, Burgundy. 

20170830 Sapphire broochJust like gemstones, the provenance of wine is an important aspect of its quality and perceived value. This unheated Kashmir sapphire sold at last week’s Bonhams Fine Jewelry sale in New York for $235,000.

Similarly, the sale featured an impressive black opal, which the Bonhams team noted could only come from Lightning Ridge, in New South Wales, Australia, due to the vivid colors of the stone. Bosker paired the opal brooch with a wine likewise indicative of its region, the Yalumba Grenache, The Tri-Centenary 2008 from the Barossa area of Australia.

Guessing Games
The emerald, ruby and diamond brooch that was purchased for $8 at a garage sale, and went on to sell for $26,250, was paired with an interesting vino counterpart: an Exto Gredic Vineyard (toh-kai), Quattro Mani.

20170926 Bonhams insert
Just like the garage sale brooch, the wine proved that initial impressions can be deceiving. While the wine smelled somewhat like a brandy and the evening’s guests struggled to classify it in terms of region or grape varietal, Bosker revealed its atypical origin: Slovenia, thus proving that sometimes it takes an expert to properly identify the item in question.

Bonhams’ event was so much more interesting than a typical auction preview or the average store trunk show, it had me thinking about other outside-the-box event ideas.

Why not hold an in-store event pairing a different wine with each of the 12 major birthstones, or different champagnes with different bridal styles?

The logic behind the pairings isn’t really as important as creating an event where people are enjoying themselves and learning something. As long as the wine is flowing and there are gems to covet, the possibilities are endless.

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