We spent an afternoon with Terry Chu, Head of Jewellery Asia for Phillips auction house, as she introduced us to a special selection of fine jewel and jadeite pieces going to auction in Hong Kong on Monday 29 May. This is the second jewellery sale for Phillips in Asia, and is set to offer a sensational opportunity for buyers and collectors to invest in some particularly rare and iconic styles across several decades and from some of the most revered jewellery maisons.
Tell us about the sale – how is it organised and is there any special meaning behind it?
I wanted to continue the idea of building a sale for all people, so that’s why I came up with the theme of love. I think love is something that belongs to all people. It’s not that because you are rich you deserve to be loved. Love belongs to everybody. So that’s why, looking at the catalogue, you will see lots of pictures that subtly show you a sense of love. Also, from the beginning, we have so many memories in our lives. All of us, since childhood, start collecting things, like jewellery. So every single piece of jewellery always carries a sort of memory, and over time this memory is related to love and happiness… so why not start your collection now!
There are several vintage lots in the auction. Is there a growing trend for older pieces?
People are more sophisticated than before so they’ve started to appreciate the workmanship and style of the old period, the last century, 1950s, ’40s and even Art Deco period. In the past, particularly in relation to Asia, older generations can also be more superstitious. I have come across some clients that always avoid second-hand jewellery, because in Asian markets many people worry that there is some karma passed onto them when they’re wearing second-hand jewellery. The younger generation is more open-minded, they understand that it’s something neutral. It’s a natural treasure. With old jewellery, you can see the talent and the technique. I think they’re more focused on the technique, the workmanship, the art of creation. It’s that sort of a culture change. They have found it has a different appeal.
Can you take us through some highlights of the upcoming auction.
Firstly, there is a (circa) 1960 Boucheron bracelet. They quite often incorporated enamel into their jewellery making; here, the leaves are actually made with yellow gold with enamel. Enamelling is a very difficult technique, but this bracelet survived for half a century and the condition is very good, all the enamel is still intact. It’s in very, very good condition. When enamel is done correctly, in the perfect way, it’s particularly solid and hard. Also, you can see it’s quite three-dimensional, so the flowers are arranged facing different ways, instead of a flat construction. Compared to white gold, this piece is warmer, more casual, more suitable for day. Even though it has so many diamonds, it’s not that serious, it’s a more interesting, fun piece.
Secondly, a diamond and emerald Cartier ring. This item is in a superb condition. After we collected this ring, we sent all three stones to have their certificates updated. The centre stone is a DIF diamond, D-coloured, internally flawless, over 5.3 carats. And then the two side emeralds, they are both from Colombia, and without any enhancement. This is a very, very typical ’50s ring mount, and again, it’s mounted by one of the most reputed jewellers: Monture Cartier. A class one brand, top-tier, top quality diamond stones, a very iconic ring style in perfect condition, and I think nothing is better… we come with a conservative estimate of HK$3.6million (to HK$4.5 million), so this is a very attractive piece.
And now the highlight of the sale; The Secret Pink ring. The pink colour is very saturated, very obvious, which is a very, very rare quality in pink diamonds. Even for vivid pink, very often the pink is still subtle. The design inspiration is very innovative because the ring has two layers. The top layer is a 4 carat, internally flawless, fancy vivid pink, and the second layer underneath, has another vivid pink diamond, a 1.39 carat Argyle pink. The owner wanted to create a ring that could represent pink diamonds from different periods; the Golconda pink comes from the old Indian mine, and the Argyle pink comes from the modern Australian mine, he wanted to have a ring that could hold both his pink diamonds together. It’s a very special ring, because it shows you the past and the future. These two diamonds could have been unearthed two or three centuries apart, and they are put together again in one ring. It’s amazing.
Since our auction is in Asia, we are holding some jadeite items. Jadeite cabochon is one of the most classic, it’s something you will always see from jadeite jewellery. Only the best jadeite boulder can be cut into cabochons, as cabochon is something with a smooth top and surface: you can’t hide anything. Whatever is inside, whatever cracks, you will see it clearly. So only the top quality jadeite will be cut into cabochon, making it one of the most expensive categories in jadeite jewellery. Secondly, unlike most of the other western gemstones, which depend on their brilliance – their ‘bling bling’ – for their beauty, jadeite cabochon is very different; it relies on its translucency. It’s much more of a subtle glow. You can look into the jadeite. This set of jadeite cabochon jewellery is the highlight of the jadeite section of the sale.