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Bonhams Sets World Record with Sapphire Ring from Jeweler to Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly

An exquisite sapphire and diamond ring by Van Cleef & Arpels featuring a rectangular-cut sapphire weighing 43.16 carats set a new world record, selling for $1,560,000 on November 23rd at the sale of 'Eight Exceptional Jewels from a Private Collection' at Bonhams in Hong Kong.

Bidders competed fiercely for the striking ring, which at $36,000 per carat, went well over its pre-sale estimate of $550,000 – 650,000 and broke the previous record for a Sri Lankan sapphire, which was $26,000 per carat.


In 1969, Jacques Arpels traveled to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in person to acquire the exceptional 43.16 carat sapphire. The perfectly crystalline, flawless stone was subsequently mounted in a ring and flanked by two pear-shaped diamonds. This ring demonstrates the jeweler's expertise in sourcing stones of extraordinary depth and quality.

Van Cleef & Arpels has long been known as one of the most innovative and well established jewelers in the world. Members of the Royal family such as the Prince of Wales and A-list celebrities including Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly bought some of their finest pieces from the renowned jeweler. It was here that the Prince of Wales bought Wallis Simpson the sapphire-and-diamond clip and bracelet, which she wore to set off her blue satin Mainbocher wedding gown. Prince Rainier ordered the pearl-and-diamond necklace with matching bracelet and earrings on his engagement to Grace Kelly and John F. Kennedy found the emerald-and-diamond ring he slipped on the third finger of Jacqueline Bouvier's left hand.


Another of the key highlights in the 'Eight Exceptional Jewels' sale included an important diamond necklace/choker/ bracelet with22 precisely matched emeralds weighing 47 carats and 412 diamonds with a total weight of more than 70 carats. Between 1959 and 1961 Van-Cleef and Arpels went in search of the superlative gems to make this sumptuous collar necklace, which sold for $1,241,000.

A magnificent ruby and diamond strap bracelet, which is recorded in Van Cleef & Arpels' archive as being made in 1936 was another of the top lots, selling for $467,000. It was once in the collection of glamorous philanthropist and leader of pre-WW2 French Riviera society, Madame Hélène Beaumont. Set with 107 carats of fine-quality rubies, the bracelet is remarkable for its outstanding supple and ribbon-like craftsmanship.

Contact Dr. Martin Gammon at Bonhams in Georgetown at 202.333.1696.