Christie’s raised $150 million, the most ever for a jewelry auction, as it sold part of the Crown Jewels and a Cartier bangle formerly owned by the Duchess of Windsor.
The Black Prince’s Ruby and the Stuart Sapphire fetched $2.3 million at an auction in Geneva last night. Christie’s sold the St Edward’s Sapphire and Queen Elizabeth’s Pearls set for $3.2 million. The stones were all transferred from the old Imperial Crown, which had been re-made on a number of occasions since the 17th century, most recently for Queen Victoria in 1838.
Among the famous gem-stones sold at the auction, is the First Star of Africa, which was previously mounted at the top of the Sovereign’s Sceptre. This gem is the largest flawless cut diamond in the world and weighs 530 carats. Once removed from the Sovereign’s Sceptre, the First Star of Africa will be replaced by an exact copy of the gem made of cubic zirkonia, a synthesized material bearing a close visual likeness to diamond.
The Second Star of Africa of 317 carats will nonetheless remain in the Royal Collection, as well as St Edward’s Crown, with which the new Sovereign is actually crowned by the Archbishop of Canterbury during the coronation ceremony.
Christie’s also sold the legendary 106 carats diamond Koh-i-Nur (‘Mountain of Light’), which was presented to Queen Victoria in 1850, and set in the platinum crown made for the late Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother for the 1937 coronation. The royal theme continues today as competitor Sotheby’s offers a diamond pendant that Britain’s Queen Victoria gave her granddaughter and a pearl necklace that may have belonged to Napoleon Bonaparte’s first wife, Josephine de Beauharnais, and was owned later in the 1800s by the queen of Sweden and Norway.
Sotheby’s sold the 12th century gold Anointing Spoon yesterday for $24 million, the most ever paid for a timepiece in auction. This piece, the oldest of the Regalia, was used to anoint the Sovereign with holy oil. Apart from the three steel coronation swords (the Swords of Temporal Justice, of Spiritual Justice and of Mercy), this is the only piece that survived the destruction of the pre-Civil War Regalia in 1649-50. — Happy April Fools’ Day! —