It’s the season of sparkle as jewellery auctions take off

As usual, big names show up in Dublin’s seasonal sales – Tiffany, Cartier, Boodles

Ruby and diamond cluster bracelet from John Weldon Auctioneers (Lot 149, estimate €4,500 to €5,500)

Ruby and diamond cluster bracelet from John Weldon Auctioneers (Lot 149, estimate €4,500 to €5,500)

 

Regardless of what the weather is doing, nothing brightens the atmosphere in the house on Christmas morning like the sparkle of diamonds.

And with three big jewellery auctions coming up in Dublin over the next few weeks, it’s a good time to snap up some special pieces. The selection is wide and the prices often surprising – you can find a pair of good-quality solitaire stud earrings from upwards of €300 – so there’s something to suit just about every budget.  

 But what if you’re not sure about which style the recipient prefers, or you don’t know your barrel clasp from your bell clutch?  

“My advice is to keep it simple – less is more,” says auctioneer John Weldon, who kicks off the seasonal shopping spree when his November auction comes under the hammer this Tuesday.

A diamond bracelet or a solitaire diamond pendant is always a good buy, he says. They don’t need to be an exact fit in the same way that a ring does, so can easily be worn on Christmas morning – “and peace will reign in the household”.

Three-strand pearl necklace with ruby and diamond clasp from Adam’s, (Lot 136, estimate €2,500 to €3,500)
Three-strand pearl necklace with ruby and diamond clasp from Adam’s, (Lot 136, estimate €2,500 to €3,500)

He suggests a pretty diamond and ruby cluster bracelet (Lot 149, estimate €4,500 to €5,500).

 Keep it classic, agree the folks at O’Reilly’s Fine Art who, as they’re celebrating 70 years in the business next year, undoubtedly know classic when they see it. A fine line bracelet in silver and white 14-carat gold, with four sapphires and four rubies sprinkled among the old-cut and rose-cut diamonds, fits the bill – or the wrist – perfectly (Lot 251, €7,000 to €8,000).

 Claire-Laurence Mestrallet, head of jewellery at of Adam’s on St Stephen’s Green, says she chose many of the pieces in the December auction with Christmas gifts in mind, and her catalogue glitters with rubies and emeralds, reflecting our fondness for the rich reds and greens traditionally associated with the season. Many of her classic pearls also have the added bonus of superbly detailed gemstone clasps, placing a subtle touch of seasonal glamour at the nape of the neck, and she, too, has diamond pendants, earrings and line bracelets at a wide range of prices. 

 For those who want to break the Yule rules, however, Mestrallet has also included pieces by contemporary jewellers. 

One look at Marguerite Burgener’s simple but ravishing chalcedony and diamond necklace (Lot 62, €3,000 to €4,000), and you’ll want to make yours a purple Christmas – perhaps with the addition of a pair of Pomellato amethyst earrings (Lot 70, €600 to €800).

Retail situation

Invariably, some of the most familiar names in the jewellery world show up in the seasonal sales – Tiffany, Cartier, Boodles – and the prices are often a fraction of what you’d pay in a retail situation. Though you can easily bid online in all of the auctions, O’Reilly’s stress the importance – and the fun – of coming to viewings in person where possible.

“The viewing environment is very welcoming, we have three gemologists on standby to answer questions, we’re as delighted to show anyone a delicate gold chain as a six-carat diamond, and we do Sunday viewings if people can’t get into town midweek.”

Xmas three: Sapphire bow brooch from O’Reilly’s Fine Art (Lot 57, estimate €3,000 to €4,000)
Xmas three: Sapphire bow brooch from O’Reilly’s Fine Art (Lot 57, estimate €3,000 to €4,000)

 With many couples opting to get engaged at Christmas rather than waiting until St Valentine’s Day, there’s always a big selection of engagement rings at the pre-Christmas auctions. Three-stone rings, which are absolutely on trend this year, feature in all three sales; John Weldon lists a diamond three-stone ring which was bought at retail in November 2016 for €4,950: it carries an estimate of €800 to €1,200.

 He also points to a Chopard pendant with the Swiss company’s famous “happy heart” motif executed in diamonds on an 18-carat gold chain (Lot 84). With its modest estimate of €400 to €600 it proves, he says, that you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a really treasurable gift at auction. 

 Brooches are making a comeback, with many women now opting to wear them at the collar of a crisp shirt, or woven into a formal hairstyle for extra pzzazz.

O’Reilly’s have some show-stopping examples, including a superb early 20th-century sapphire and diamond bow (Lot 57, €3,000 to €4,000) and an imposing Victorian star which can be worn as a pendant, making it doubly versatile; it comes in a fitted case by Asprey (Lot 79, €12,000 to €15,000). 

Victorian star brooch from O’Reilly’s Fine Art (Lot 79, estimate €12,000 to €15,000)
Victorian star brooch from O’Reilly’s Fine Art (Lot 79, estimate €12,000 to €15,000)

For something truly out of the ordinary, however, an everyday creature picked out in diamonds and a natural saltwater pearl (Lot 252, €4,500 to €5,500) will surely convince even the most hardened arachnophobe that spiders can be a girl’s best friend.

Beautiful jewels, of course, aren’t just for girls. Among the stars of the Adam’s catalogue are a pair of 1925 cufflinks – tiny and perfectly formed, with exquisitely-cut rubies and diamonds – by Van Cleef & Arpels (Lot 32, €3,000 to €5,000). But when it comes to the pieces by the Parisian jeweller Pierre Sterlé , they’re just about the most feminine items you could ever see. 

Ruby and diamond Van Cleef & Arpels cufflinks from Adam’s (Lot 32, estimate €3,000 to €5,000)
Ruby and diamond Van Cleef & Arpels cufflinks from Adam’s (Lot 32, estimate €3,000 to €5,000)

Sterlé mastery of metals meant that not only could he twist gold into the effortless arabesques of his graceful fern brooch (Lot 39, €3,500 to €4,500), he could also weave gold as others might weave wool, cotton or silk. His evening bag (Lot 40, €10,000 – €12,000), made from 18-carat gold and brilliant-cut diamonds, is . . well, it’s a slice of sheer magic. 

Stylised fern brooch by Sterlé from Adam’s (Lot 39, €3,500 to €4,500)
Stylised fern brooch by Sterlé from Adam’s (Lot 39, €3,500 to €4,500)

John Weldon Auctioneers, Unit 2, Cows Lane, Temple Bar, Dublin 8. Auction Tuesday, November 28th at 2pm. Viewing today 12pm to 5pm, tomorrow 12noon to 5pm, Monday 27th 11-5pm and Tuesday 10:30am to 12:30pm. See jwa.ie

Adam’s, 26 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2. Auction December 5th at 6pm. See adams.ie

O’Reilly’s Fine Art, 126 Francis Street, Dublin 8. Auction December 13th at 1pm. Viewing Sunday December 10th, 12pm to 4pm, Tuesday12th, 11am to 5pm and Wednesday 13th 10am –to12.30pm. See oreillysfineart.com

Xmas seven; Stylised fern brooch by Sterlé from Adam’s (Lot 39, €3,500 to €4,500)

Xmas nine: Chalcedony and diamond necklace by Marguerite Burgener from Adam’s (Lot 62, €3,000 to €4,000)

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