World’s Most Expensive Kashmir Sapphire Necklace: A 109-Carat Peacock Necklace Sells for US$15m

A 109.08-carat Kashmir royal blue sapphire and diamond necklace, ‘The Peacock Necklace’, sold at Christie’s Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels for HK$116.5m (US$14.9m), a world auction record for a Kashmir sapphire necklace. It realised more than one-third of the sale total of HK$470m and became the third lot that crossed the HK$100m mark this autumn season at Christie’s in Hong Kong.

The auctioneer put the hammer down at HK$101.5m

The Peacock Necklace

The peacock necklace appeared as the final lot of the sale, carrying an estimate between HK$95m-120m. It was hammered down at HK$101.5m and sold for HK$116m after premium to the telephone bidder of Vickie Shek, Chairman of Jewellery, Asia.

The sapphire and diamond necklace set with twenty-one cushion-shaped sapphires from 10.56 to 3.02 carats each, carrying a total of 109.08 carats. Kashmir sapphires are renowned for their brilliance and strong saturation of velvet blue, which is reminiscent of the colour of a peacock’s neck.

The peacock necklace sold to Vickie Shek (the one holding a telephone in the middle), Chairman of Jewellery, Asia

The history of ‘The Peacock Necklace’ begins in 1881, when a landslide in the Zanskar range of the northwestern Himalayas first revealed sapphire-bearing rocks. By 1887, Kashmir’s first sapphire mine had been exhausted and production ceased. As a result, gem-quality Kashmir sapphires are now extremely rare.

‘To find one stone of such quality is very difficult,’ says Christie's jewellery specialist Vickie Sek. ‘The 109 carats in this one necklace took more than 100 years to assemble.’

Another highlight of the sale was a 24.04-carat pear-shaped Fancy Yellow ‘Moon of Baroda’ diamond that worn by Marilyn Monroe. In 1953, Marilyn Monroe famously wore the Moon of Baroda to promote the release of the Howard Hawks film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

A 24.04-carat pear-shaped Fancy Yellow ‘Moon of Baroda’ diamond

A 24.04-carat pear-shaped Fancy Yellow ‘Moon of Baroda’ diamond

The Gemological Institute of America has recently determined that this historic diamond is from the legendary Golconda mines in India, which, until the advent of the 20th century, produced the finest and largest diamonds in the world.

In 1990, the diamond was offered at Christie’s in New York, realising US$297,000, nearly tripling its low estimate. After two decades in a private collection, the Moon of Baroda fetched HK$10.3m (US$1.3m) with premium included, far exceeding its presale estimate of HK$4m-6m.

The sale also offered a black and white autographed photograph of Marilyn Monroe wearing the Moon of Baroda, signed and inscribed ‘To Meyer Thanks for the chance to wear the Moon of Baroda’. Estimated at HK$80,000-120,000, the photograph sold for HK$275,000 (US$35,000).

Sale highlights

Superb Sapphire and Diamond Necklace

Lot no.: 2068
Carat: 109.08
Length: 39.5 cm
SSEF report no.: 102016
Estimate: HK$95,000,000 - 120,000,000
Hammer price: HK$101,500,000
Price realised: HK$116,537,500

Historical Coloured Diamond Pendant Necklace

Lot no.: 1961
Diamond: Fancy yellow pear modified brilliant-cut diamond
Carat: 24
Clarity: VS2
GIA report no.: 5192555037
Estimate: HK$4,000,000-6,000,000 (US$512,700-769,050)
Price realised: HK$10,300,000

Marilyn Monroe Signed Photograph with Frame, Frank Powolny

Lot no.: 1960
Signed and Inscribed ‘To Meyer Thanks for the chance to wear the Moon of Baroda'
Photograph size: 18.2 x 22.5 cm
Estimate: HK$80,000-120,000
Price realised: HK$275,000

Auction details

Auction house: Christie’s Hong Kong
Sale: Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels
Date: 27 November 2018
Lots offered: 267
Sold: 181
Unsold: 86
Sold by lot: 67.7%
Sale total: HK$470,215,000