These glittering gems made history and changed the market forever
Last month a multi-coloured Cartier bracelet, created around 1930, broke a world record when it was sold during an online auction by Sotheby's. Pursued by five bidders, the Tutti Frutti bracelet (a style nicknamed for its juicy-looking carved rubies, sapphires and emeralds - pictured above) eventually sold for more than 1.3 million US dollars (over £1 million), becoming the most expensive jewel ever sold in a dedicated online sale, as well as the most expensive jewel sold so far in 2020.
Like many other industries, auction houses have had to adapt during the coronavirus pandemic, turning their jewellery sales - usually held in packed-out rooms in cities like Geneva, Hong Kong or New York - into online-only affairs.
"The result achieved for this bracelet is testament to the fact that, even under the most challenging of circumstances, the demand for great art endures," said Catharine Beckett, head of Sotheby's Magnificent Jewels Auctions in New York, at the time. "Now...we can connect with the touch of a button, which [has] allowed us to engage with bidders worldwide."
It's not just the ability to reach a wider audience that has led to this upswing in online bids. "Any lasting resistance that people may have had to buying luxury goods online seems to have gone. Vendors no longer see offering valuable pieces on the web as somehow downgrading them. We've even had dormant clients, who may not have bought anything for years, being tempted back," says David Warren, senior international jewellery director at Christie's. "Not only that, but collections of very similar items, like jewelled clocks, now tend to sell better online as you don't get the same kind of 'auction fatigue' as when you sell to a live room."
Encouraged by its recent success, Christie's has just announced 22 more luxury sales from now until the end of July, almost half of which will be internet sales - including the sale of the largest D-coloured white diamond (the iciest, most valuable shade) ever offered online.
In anticipation of more records being broken in the months to come, we look back at six of the most spectacular and fascinating jewels to have smashed their sale estimates and changed history forever.