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Adam’s having a blue moment as sale majors in sapp...

It’s the colour of sky and sea, of cornflowers and gentians: ask most people in the world to name their favourite colour, and they’re likely to say “blue”. No wonder sapphires are such cherished gemstones – especially those from the island of Sri Lanka which, for more than 2,000 years, has produced some of the bluest sapphires of them all.

At the Adam’s sale of jewellery and watches in Dublin on Tuesday, May 15th, Sri Lankan sapphires will be the stars of the show when lot 52 goes under the hammer with an estimate of €60,000-€80,000. Described in the catalogue as “property of an Irish lady”, this spectacular bracelet features seven cushion-shaped sapphires woven into a geometric garland of diamonds.

Designed in the 1950s, the bracelet epitomises the era of the Dior silhouette: nipped-in waists and full mid-length skirts, classic styles and square lines adorned with large, striking “cocktail” jewels. Its sapphires total some 45 carats, with the diamonds adding another 25 carats.

The stones may not be quite as enormous as the world’s largest Sri Lankan sapphire, the egg-sized Logan Sapphire, which resides in the National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC and weighs in at a whopping 423 carats. But the piece, says Adam’s head of jewellery, Claire-Laurence Mestrallet, is of notable interest to jewellery historians and gemologists.

Big and bold

It’s one of a number of remarkable sapphire bracelets which feature in this sale. The design of lot 113 (€12,000-€15,000) could hardly be more of a contrast: a line of oval-shaped cabuchon stones in alternating shades of darker and lighter blue, framed by brilliant-cut diamonds and accented with rock crystal. “It’s very 1980s, 1990s – big and bold,” says Mestrallet. “It came from the south of France.”

lot 113, sapphire, diamond and rock crystal bracelet

Lot 111, a sapphire and blue chalcedony link bracelet by the New York jeweller Seaman Schepps, offers another variation on the theme (€10,000-€15,000). Coco Chanel and Andy Warhol were fans of his whimsical, daring designs, and this exquisitely detailed piece, which is being sold together with a pair of matching earclips, evokes the atmosphere of 1940s Manhattan. “Actually it cries out the Hamptons,” Mestrallet says.

lot 111, sapphire and blue chalcedony bracelet and earclips by Seamen Schepps

Formed from corundum, sapphires are the second hardest gemstone after diamonds. But they aren’t always blue: colours range from white through pinks and yellows right through to almost jet black. Also in the Adam’s sale are a selection of sapphire rings: lot 55 is a yellow rectangular sapphire (€8,000-€10,000); lot 53 is pink (€4,000-€5,000); lot 56 (€9,000-€10,000) is the more traditional cornflower blue.

Perfection scale

If the presence of colour adds value to sapphires the opposite is true of diamonds, which are graded according to a colour scale with “D” representing stones of the whitest, clearest hue. Lot 97, a single-stone diamond ring, has been certified “E” – which, essentially, stands for “off the end of the perfection scale” – by laboratories in France and New York. It is offered in the sale at (€65,000-€75,000).

Lot 46, a diamond and platinum riviere necklace which can be taken apart so that one section can be worn as a bracelet, has an estimate of €50,000-€60,000. And in a sale which has more than its fair share of outstanding bracelets, an art deco diamond bracelet from 1935, composed of articulated openwork links of geometric design, is €7,000-€9,000.

lot 11, demantoid garnet ring

We think of garnets as red in colour – though, like sapphires, they actually come in a range of shades and hues. The glowing green of demantoid garnet is one of the rarest and lot 11, a late Victorian setting with Russian assay marks, is an unusually large stone surrounded by diamonds (€2,500-€3,500). Another unusual piece is lot 23, a mid-century agate and gold cameo brooch engraved PG, possibly for Pietro Giacometti, which portrays a goddess who is believed to be Artemis, (€1,500-€2,500).

Dior aquamarine dress ring

Back on the blue track, an oversized oval aquamarine and diamond dress ring by Dior (lot 168), is modestly priced at €9,000-€11,000 – considering that it was purchased by the vendor for €80,000. The stone sits in a leafy openwork mount, bright and open as a summer sky. Even chunkier is a dress ring by Pomellato Couture (lot 132, €25,000-€30,000), its oval-shaped sapphire nestles in a bombe-style mount within a surround of rose-cut diamonds.

Lot 92, leopard brooch

Alongside a selection of contemporary jewellery from Michele della Valle and Margherita Burgener, the Adam’s sale features just about every big name in the jewellery pantheon including Chopard, Bulgari, Cartier and Piaget. A brooch in the form of a leopard, textured to represent fur, with emerald and diamond eyes, is a typically playful piece by Fred of New York, who is perhaps best known for having designed the heart-cut ruby necklace presented by Richard Gere to Julia Roberts in the film Pretty Woman (lot 92, €1,200-€1,800).

Lot 179 (€1,800-€2,200) is a set of 18 gold buttons – six blazer buttons and 12 shirt buttons – from the Italian jewellery house Pederzani. There are pieces made from pearls, emeralds, rubies, amethyst, amber, even coral.

If blue really is your colour, however, you’ll find it hard to look further than those sapphires.

Source: Michael Parsons