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The record-breaking sale of pieces from the Al Thani Collection attracted bidders from 45 countries across five continents. Not bad for a category that Rahul Kadakia, international head of jewellery at Christie’s, said initially only attracted a limited clientele when the auction house started selling Indian jewellery back in 1997. “These are jewels with history and provenance,” he said. “Once the domain of specialist collectors, the category is now mainstream.”
The marathon, 12-hour sale, also became the highest auction total for a private jewellery collection since the Elizabeth Taylor sale at Christie’s in 2011. The latter epic sale achieved $115.9m.
With a mix of historic diamonds and pieces worn by Indian royalty and made by the likes of Cartier and Mellerio dits Meller, as well as contemporary jewels by JAR and Bhagat, the Al Thani Collection, from which the pieces were taken, celebrates the incredible legacy of India and its influence on design across the world.
The top lot was a Belle Époque diamond brooch by Cartier, Paris, 1912, which sold for $10,603,500 to a private collector in the room. The jewellery’s timeless style was revealed in a shoot by portrait photographer Claiborne Swanson Frank, in collaboration with Christie’s, of some of New York’s leading tastemakers including Moda Operandi founder Lauren Santo Domingo and designer Veronica Beard. After all, as we all know, jewellery only truly comes alive when worn.