Branded diamond rings shine at Christie's Shanghai US$7.2m 10th anniversary luxury evening sale

In celebration of Christie's 10th anniversary in Shanghai, the leading auction house presented two evening sales at its headquarters located on the Bund in Shanghai on 23 September. 

One of the sales was dedicated to luxury items, featuring an exquisite selection of jewellery and Hermès handbags. Out of the 31 lots on offer, 27 found buyers, generating a sale total of RMB 52.8 million and a sell-through rate of 87%. 

The top three most expensive lots went to three diamond rings from renowned jewellery maisons, including Bulgari, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Harry Winston. 

Hosting the auction for the night was the house's star auctioneer Liang-Lin Chen, who thoughtfully brought with her the same small wooden gavel that was used in her first auction in Shanghai ten years ago. 

Liang-Lin Chen the same small wooden gavel that was used in her first auction in Shanghai ten years ago

Lot 26 | Bulgari coloured diamond and diamond ring
Fancy vivid yellow cut-cornered square modified brilliant-cut diamond of 25.13 carats, half-moon shaped diamonds, platinum and gold, signed Bvlgari, black Bvlgari case
GIA report no.: 2225822725 (Year 2023)
Estimate: RMB 7,400,000 - 8,500,000
Hammer Price: RMB 16,500,000
Sold: RMB 20,265,000

The sale's top lot was a Bulgari yellow diamond ring, which fetched RMB 20.3 million against a low estimate of RMB 7.4 million. 

Bidding for this ring was intense between two phone buyers who were represented respectively by Isaac Choi, General Manager, South China and Mandy Wang, Senior Client Advisor. The two called out bids back and forth and quickly pushed the price past the RMB 10 million mark. Eventually, after a minutes-long competition, it was hammered to Wang's client with paddle number 8009 at RMB 16.5 million. 

While Isaac Choi failed to win the ring, both the second and third most expensive lots were snapped up by his clients. 

Left: Isaac Choi, General Manager, South China; Right: Mandy Wang, Senior Client Advisor

The center stone of the ring is a 25.13-carat Fancy Vivid Yellow diamond, graded by GIA with a fourth-ranking VVS2 clarity, an excellent polish, and a very good symmetry. It is cushioned into the shape of a cut-cornered square modified brilliant, or more popular known as a radiant cut. 

A relative newcomer to the ranks of fancy-shaped diamonds, the radiant cut was created in 1976 by American master diamond cutter Henry Grossbard.

Essentially, it is a round brilliant modified for a square or rectangular shape, combining the dazzling sparkle of a round brilliant and the aristocratic elegance of an emerald cut. 

Designed to maximize sparkle and brilliance, it has 70 facets, which allow for a mesmerizing interplay of light while disguising minor imperfections and inclusions of the diamond. Demanding less of the stone's quality, the radiant cut has a wide appeal and has been charming brides-to-be for decades. 

Celebrities' engagement rings have always grabbed the attention of the media. In 2004, Russian tennis star Anna Kournikova was spotted wearing a huge radiant-cut canary diamond ring and immediately hit headlines. Reportedly, it was an engagement ring gifted to her by Latino pop king Enrique Iglesias. 

Lot 23 | Van Cleef & Arpels Diamond Ring
Marquise brilliant-cut diamond of 11.16 carats, tapered baguette-cut diamonds, platinum, signed Van Cleef & Arpels (indistinct), numbered, maker's mark (indistinct)
GIA report no.: 2225644450 (Year 2023)
VCA Copy of Invoice (Year 1978)
Estimate: RMB 5,600,000 - 8,000,000
Hammer Price: RMB 5,800,000
Sold: RMB 7,308,000

This Van Cleef & Arpels ring features an 11.16-carat marquise-cut white diamond, graded D colour, internally flawless, excellent polish, and very good symmetry on the GIA scale. 

Featuring curved sides and pointed ends, marquise-cut diamond is celebrated for flattering the fingers, making them longer and more slender with its elongated design. Thanks to the extended length, a marquise cut also seems larger than other diamonds of the same carat weight. 

Marquise diamonds were developed in France in the 1740s when, as legend has it, King Louis XIV commissioned a new diamond cut that resembled the lips of his lover, the Marquise de Pompdaour. 

With a vintage flair and a complimentary silhouette, the marquise-cut diamond is an eye-catching choice for those looking to stand out from the crowd.

One such celebrity who did so is Victoria Beckham, who has been renowned for her huge collection of engagement rings. When David Beckham proposed to her and gifted her the first engagement ring in 1998, his choice was a marquise-cut yellow diamond on a yellow gold band.

Isaac Choi, General Manager, South China, won two diamond rings for his clients with respective paddle numbers 8016 and 8015

Lot 24 | Harry Winston Diamond Ring
Emerald-cut diamond of 10.07 carats, tapered baguette-cut diamonds, platinum, signed HW (Harry Winston), blue Harry Winston case
GIA report no.: 2225881125 (Year 2023)
Estimate: RMB 4,500,000 - 6,500,000
Hammer Price: RMB 5,200,000
Sold: RMB 6,552,000

The center stone of this Harry Winston ring is a 10.07-carat white diamond with a D colour, flawless clarity, and excellent polish and symmetry – the highest on the GIA scale in each category. 

Although created in the 16th century, emerald cuts, belonging to the step-cut family, rose to notoriety during the Art Deco period in the 1920s, where a notable shift was seen moving away from the traditional and towards more modern and geometric shapes.

Celebrated for their clean lines, step-cut diamonds feature rectangular or square facets that create a staircase-like effect. Unlike the dazzling brilliance of round brilliant cuts, emerald cuts offer a more refined, understated elegance, emphasising a diamond's clarity and sophisticated gleam. 

Possessing a timeless charm with minimalistic aesthetics, emerald-cut diamonds have been a popular engagement ring choice for celebrities, such as Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, and Beyoncé.

One thing to note about emerald-cut diamonds, however, is that their open facets do not conceal imperfections well. Instead, they offer a clear view of the diamond's interior, making clarity and colour crucial factors to consider. 

Auction Details:

Auction House: Christie's Shanghai
Sale: 10th Shanghai Auction Anniversary: Luxury Evening Sale
Date: 23 September 2023 
Number of Lots: 31
Sold: 27
Unsold: 4
Sale Rate: 87%
Sale Total: RMB 52,873,800