Bringing joy and sparkle to the holiday season

Finely carved jade pendant with a platinum and diamond cap suspended from a necklace of 89 jade beads graduating in size sold at Skinner’s Fine Jewelry Auction for $243,000 against a $20,000-$30,000 estimate.
Finely carved jade pendant with a platinum and diamond cap suspended from a necklace of 89 jade beads graduating in size sold at Skinner’s Fine Jewelry Auction for $243,000 against a $20,000-$30,000 estimate.

Jewelry, toys, lights, wine, and music all help to bring joy and sparkle to the holiday season. They also brought some surprising auction prices in the weeks leading up to the holidays.

At Skinner’s Dec. 9 Fine Jewelry Auction, all 10 top lots sold well above their estimates with the top seller, a pair of French antique pearl and diamond ear pendants, bringing $315,000, more than 20 times the high of the $10,000-
$15,00 estimate. It was followed by the $243,000 paid for a jade bead necklace with a carved jade pendant, which was more than eight times the high of its $20,000-$30,000 estimate.

A pair of Cartier Edwardian platinum and diamond ear pendants sold for $159,000 against $100,000-$150,000, while a Cartier Edwardian pearl and diamond plaque brooch went for $110,700 against a $40,000-$60,000 estimate.


Other six-figure jewelry included an antique emerald-cut emerald pendant framed by old mine-cut diamonds and suspended from a bar set with emeralds and diamonds that sold for $107,625 against $8,000-$10,000 and an antique pearl necklace that fetched $104,550 against $10,000-$15,000.

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Jewelry from the estates of Estée Lauder, founder of the cosmetic company that bears her name, and of her daughter-in-law Evelyn H. Lauder, senior corporate vice president of the company, brought $3.9 million at Sotheby’s Dec. 9 Magnificent Jewels Auction.

Topping the 33 jewels in the Evelyn Lauder Collection, which was sold to benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation she founded in 1993, was Cartier’s iconic 1928 Tutti Frutti diamond bracelet set with rubies, emeralds, and onyx that sold for $2.2 million against a $750,000-
$1 million estimate, setting a world auction record for a Cartier Tutti Frutti bracelet.

Topping the 11 jewels from the Estée Lauder Collection sold to benefit the Alzheimer Drug Discovery Foundation was a pair of Van Cleef & Arpels platinum 18-karat gold, diamond, and colored diamond ear clips that brought $233,000 against a $100,000-$150,000 estimate.


The auction’s top-selling jewel was a gold and diamond necklace from the estate of Helen Hay Whitney (1875-1944), the daughter of John Hay, US ambassador to Britain and secretary of state in President McKinley’s administration, and the wife of Payne Whitney, a member of the influential Whitney family of New York. The necklace, given to her as a present when she married Whitney in 1902, sold for $3.1 million against a $2.5 million-$3.5 million estimate.

Jewels from other consignors included a pair of emerald and diamond pendant ear clips that originally belonged to Grand Duchess Vladimir of Russia and that sold for $1,055,000 against a $600,000-$800,000 estimate. The ear clips, which were smuggled out of Russia by an English friend after the duchess escaped to the Caucasus following the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, descended through her daughter and granddaughter. In 1987 they were auctioned by Sotheby’s in Geneva and became the property of Gloria, princess of Thurn and Taxis.

Competition between six bidders drove a circa 1940 Cartier 14-karat tri-color gold and lapis lazuli bracelet, formerly owned by the legendary actress Marlene Dietrich (1901-92), from a $20,000-$30,000 estimate to a $179,000 taking price. It was a gift from her longtime lover, Erich Remarque (1908-70), the German-born author of “All Quiet on the Western Front.”

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An 89.23-carat pear-shaped diamond was the top seller at Christie’s Dec. 10 Magnificent Jewels Auction, bringing $11.1 million.


A pair of fancy light yellow diamond ear pendants, each weighing over 50 carats, brought $5.4 million, more than doubling the low $2.5 million estimate, while a 5.25-carat Burmese ruby ring by Harry Winston went for $1.7 million, more than tripling its lowestimate.

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The 479-lot antique toy and bank collection of Max Berry, a Washington lawyer, sold for $3.1 million at Bertoia Auctions’ Nov. 14-15 auction in Vineland, N.J.

A circa 1876 Preacher in the Pulpit mechanical bank by J. & E. Stevens Co. of Cromwell, Conn., brought the auction’s top price of $252,000 against a $150,000-$175,000 estimate.

The top selling toy was the circa 1893 Cutter Sleigh by Ives Manufacturing Co. of Plymouth, Conn., that sold for $234,000 against a $100,000-
$150,000 estimate, while a circa 1920s Hubley Revolving Monkey Cage Wagon with a $75,000-
$100,000 estimate brought $114,000.

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The top-selling lighting at James D. Julia’s Nov. 13-14 Lamp & Glass Auction were two Tiffany lamps: a Dragonfly table lamp that sold for $142,000 against a $130,000-$140,000 estimate and a Curtain Border floor lamp that brought $63,900 against $62,500-$67,500.

The top-selling Handel lamp was a Birds of Paradise table lamp that fetched $9,480 against a $7,500-$8,500 estimate, while the top selling Pairpoint lamp was a Puffy Rose table lamp that sold for $9,490 (against $6,000-$9,000).

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Two 1982 Bordeaux wines brought the top prices at Skinner’s Oct. 28-29 Fine Wines Auction, held for the first time in two sessions.

At the first session, which featured a 444-lot collection formed over decades by a doctor, 12 bottles of Chateau Lafite Rothschild went for $38,750 (against $24,000-$32,500) and 12 bottles of Chateau Latour for $19,680 (against $15,000-$22,000).

A 1982 Bordeaux was also the top seller at the second session featuring 492 lots from various consignors. The six bottles of Chateau Petrus fetched $29,520 (against $20,000-$30,000).

For the first time at a Skinner fine wines auction whiskey and spirits were offered. The top selling whiskey was a lot of 12 bottles of 20-year-old A. H. Hirsch Kentucky Straight Bourbon that sold for $24,600 (against an $18,000-$24,000 estimate). Two bottles of Boston-made Sam Adams 1997 Triple Bock fetched $62 against a $30-$50 estimate.

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A circa 1825 Italian violin made by Joannes Franciscus Pressenda of Turin was the top seller at Skinner’s Nov. 9 Fine Musical Instruments Auction. It brought $315,000 against a $180,000-$220,000 estimate. A modern violin made in Turin in 1923 by Carolus Badarello brought $18,450 (estimate $8,000-$10,000), the same price paid for a modern American violin made in 1929 by Karl Berger of New York. Its estimate was $4,000-$6,000.

Virginia Bohlin can be reached