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rolex watch origin

Rolex Watch Origin: The Most Recognized Luxury Watch Brand

Rolex is a brand loved by collectors across the globe. It’s known for groundbreaking wristwatch movements, including watches that reached submarine depths of more than 3,000 meters and traveled long distances across the sky. Each watch is made of the best, high-quality materials, built to last a collector a lifetime.

Here, learn more about the origins of Rolex watches, as well as how you can buy or sell your own Rolex.

The Origins of Rolex Watches

Rolex is well-loved for its high-quality watches. Collectors are equally intrigued by the brand’s rich history:

  • 1902: Brother-in-laws Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis founded the Rolex brand in London, England. The duo specialized in making wristwatches from Hermann Aegler’s movements and high-quality watch cases from reputable companies, like those from Dennison.
  • 1908: Rolex officially became a registered trademark. Now the sole proprietor, Wilsdorf chose the name Rolex because he wanted something people of all origins could pronounce. Plus, he thought the name resembled the sound of a watch being wound.
  • 1910: Rolex becomes the first wristwatch brand to earn an independently ratified certificate of a chronometric performance — essentially a very high degree of excellence in timekeeping.
  • 1914: The Kew Observatory awarded the Rolex watch with a “Class A” precision certificate. This was a monumental award as it is usually given to marine chronometers, and it was the first time a London wristwatch won the award.
  • 1919: Wilsdorf moved his Rolex brand from London to Geneva because of newly imposed taxes that made metals too expensive. He chose Geneva so he could be closer to his Bienne-based suppliers.
  • 1926: The Rolex Oyster was released. This was an exciting release, as the watch was marketed as the world’s first waterproof watch.
  • 1927: A year after the Oyster release date, Wilsdorf gave famous swimmer Mercedes Gleitze the watch. Gleitze wore the watch around her neck as she swam across the English channel — and it performed perfectly afterward.
Mercedes Gleitze, circa 1930. As a professional endurance swimmer, her name was used to market Rolex’s new waterproof case, Oyster. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
  • 1931: The Rolex Oyster Perpetual model was released. Recognized as the first self-winding watch, the Oyster Perpetual combined the water-resistant power of the Oyster with a revolutionary automatic movement.
  • 1953: The Rolex Submariner was released. Designed for divers, the watch was guaranteed waterproof to 100 meters and featured a rotating bezel to help divers track their dive time.
  • 1955: In collaboration with Pan American Airways, the Rolex GMT-Master was released, introducing the now iconic blue and red “Pepsi” bezel. During this time in history, pilots began traveling longer and farther, now entering different time zones. The GMT-Master helped aviators tell times in different time zones. Now, it’s used by the Aviation Industry to calculate Coordinated Universal Time.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual GMT-Master “Pepsi” Watch, Ref. 1675. Achieved $21,250 at auction.
  • 1960: Rolex’s founder Wilsdorf passed away, leaving behind a hugely successful brand.
  • 1962: Rolex becomes the official timekeeper of the Daytona car races and launches the popular Daytona Dial a year later.
  • 1967: The Rolex Sea-Dweller was released. Rolex experienced huge success with the power of the Submariner — but Rolex wanted to triple the watch’s deep-sea abilities. The Sea-Dweller features a helium escape valve that made this goal possible.
  • 1971: The Rolex Explorer II was released. This watch model was specially crafted for spelunkers, people who explore caves. The watch features an AM and PM feature, as people underground can’t distinguish between day and night. People can also read the features in the dark.

After Wilsdorf’s death in 1960, Rolex continued producing sought-after models like the Yacht-Master, Pearlmaster, Datejust II and the Sky-Dweller. You can still shop modern Rolex watches today and find sought-after vintage designs.

famous rolex pieces

What Are the Most Famous Rolex Pieces?

Currently, Rolex offers many wristwatch styles. Some of their most famous and foundational pieces, however, are:

1. Oyster

Made in 1926, the Oyster revolutionized watchmaking. It’s recognized as the first waterproof case, strategically designed with 10 parts and sealed zones, protected against water and dust. The design enabled watch-wearers to wear their watches during various activities, including swimming.

Like other styles, the Oyster is currently available in many colors and sizes. It has two original dial colors, however — black with white gold and silver with gold accents. The watches are signed with “superlative chronometer official certified,” a tribute to Rolex’s 1910 recognition.

2. Daytona

Rolex introduced the Daytona in 1962. It’s named after the famous Florida city, home of the Daytona International Speedway. The Daytona allows racers to measure elapsed time and calculate their average speed using three subdials — small seconds, 30-minute and 12-hour counters.

The original Daytona has “Cosmograph” engraved in red under the Rolex logo. In the early 1960s, “Daytona” replaced Cosmograph, and the model continued to advance from there. Original Daytonas don’t have a date window nor engraving on the case backs. But, they do have two engravings on the sides, stating the model and serial numbers.

3. GMT-Master

In the mid-1950s, pilots began traveling longer distances across different time zones. Pan Am requested Rolex to make an aviator watch that could keep track of these different time zones.

Rolex created the GMT-Master that displayed a fourth time — Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), hence the name GMT-Master. Now, the watch displays the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), following the 1972 transition established by the Aviation Industry.

4. Day-Date

In 1956, the luxurious Day-Date Rolex made its debut. This style is the first waterproof watch with a self-winding chronometer. The Day-Date displays the full calendar day along with the date.

The Day-Date is synonymous with luxury and prestige. The watch has been through many different styles and configurations over time—changing dial colors, size and design. This Rolex timepiece has been popularized by celebrities, politicians, CEOs and other high-profile individuals. Most famously, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, an avid watch enthusiast, often wore his Rolex Day-Date during his presidency and gifted them throughout his life, and now the watch is more widely referred to as the “Rolex Presidential.”

5. Submariner

Introduced in 1953, the Submariner is a watch built for divers and others venturing deep below the surface. This Rolex style is famous for its resistance to water and iconic unidirectional rotating bezel.

Both vintage and modern releases of the Submariner are highly sought after.

How Can You Sell or Buy Rolex Watches?

Are you interested in adding a Rolex to your collection or making space in your collection for another collectible? Learn how to do both by considering the following steps:

How to Sell Your Rolex Watch

All Rolex watches are sought-after, especially older collectible models. The best way to sell your Rolex watch is by getting it in front of the right audience. Fine jewelry and watch auctions, like Fortuna, have a wide audience reach of people searching for Rolex pieces.

Sell your Rolex watch at Fortuna in three simple steps:

  1. Get a free valuation: Send pictures and fine details — such as serial and model numbers or original documentation — to Fortuna with our web form or email, valuation@fortunaauction.com.
  2. Sign a consignment agreement: Once our professionals have looked over your piece, they’ll send you a consignment agreement that lists the high and low estimated selling price, as well as other important information regarding the auction process. If you agree to the terms listed, you will sign the agreement, and we will prepare your Rolex watch for auction.
  3. Collect your payment: Your Rolex watch will then go to auction. After it’s sold, Fortuna will contact you regarding which of your pieces sold, at what price and how we will pay you.

Learn more about our selling process by visiting our selling page online.

How to Buy a Collectible Rolex Watch

You can participate in Fortuna’s monthly auctions anywhere around the globe. Once registered, you’ll gain access to our auctions, hosted in-person, online, over the phone or via absentee.

We believe strongly in total transparency. Fortuna holds a reliable reputation, and we want you to make a fully informed decision before adding a piece to your collection. We take great care when evaluating each piece and educating buyers on every detail, from its history to its craftsmanship.

Learn more about how you can buy a collectible Rolex watch from Fortuna by visiting our buying page online.

building your rolex collection

Building Your Rolex Collection? Learn More About Fortuna’s Luxury Auctions Today

Whether you’re ready to part with your Rolex watch or looking to add one to your collection, rely on Fortuna Auction. We’d love to walk you through our buying and selling processes in more detail. Learn more about Fortuna by contacting us online or calling us directly at +1 (212)-389-9040.

cartier

Cartier—Timeless Jeweler and Watchmaker

You’ve likely heard of Cartier before—especially their well-known pieces like the Cartier Love bracelet or Tank watch. Cartier is a French-based luxury goods company specializing in jewelry and watchmaking. Here, you’ll learn more about the history of Cartier, as well as how to sell and buy coveted Cartier collectibles.

The History Behind Cartier

Cartier’s origin began with Louis-François Cartier, the founder, born in Paris in 1819. He spent most of his early adulthood as an apprentice under a master watchmaker. In 1847, Cartier bought the store from his apprentice—the beginning of Cartier’s successful journey.

Soon, Cartier’s craft extended from watchmaking into jewelry. He bought what he could afford and made the best pieces he could, strengthening his craft with every piece made. Cartier would sell his pieces and invest the profits into buying bigger and better materials, his work building the Cartier business to new levels.

In the late 1800s, Louis-Francois Cartier’s son, Alfred Cartier, took over the business. Around this time, France’s elites were fleeing from France in the heat of a Socialist revolution. They were looking for any way out, including by selling their finest jewelry and watches at a desperately low price. Alfred bought these pieces, and from there, the Cartier business skyrocketed.

With a century of growth throughout the 1900s, Cartier grew to be a well-known jewelry and watchmaking brand. Although Cartier is no longer family-owned, it’s still widely successful, operating more than 200 stores in 125 countries, including London, New York and Paris.

sought after Cartier pieces

Some of Cartier’s Most Sought-After Pieces

All of Cartier’s pieces are highly sought after. Collectors enjoy the exclusivity of the brand, seeking both antique and new pieces to add to their collection. Some of the most sought-after Cartier pieces are:

1. Cartier Love Bracelet

Perhaps one of the most well-known Cartier jewelry is the Cartier Love bracelet. Aldo Cipullo, who is the only man allowed to have his signature on a Cartier piece, originally designed the unique bracelet.

The bracelet’s design is relatively simple, but its symbolism makes it so popular. The Cartier Love bracelet doesn’t slip onto the wrist like most bracelets. Rather, it’s fixed onto a wearer’s wrist by two screw heads, requiring a special screwdriver to apply and remove the bracelet. The idea is to give the tool to your lover so only they can access your bracelet.

The Cartier Love bracelet is available online in various styles and sizes, and it’s widely popular with collectors and jewelry enthusiasts alike.

2. Cartier Tank Watch

The Cartier Tank watch’s design, crafted in the early 1900s, is inspired by the tracks of the French war tank Renault FT-17. The defining characteristics of the Tank watch are its rectangular face and bold hour markers. The original Tank Watch used silver metal and black leather. But, since its creation, you can find over 50 different models online currently.

3. Trinity De Cartier Ring

The Trinity collection contains many models of earrings, necklaces and bracelets, but the most sought-after Trinity style is the original ring. The ring has three intertwining pieces representing the three stages of romance—friendship, fidelity and love. To further symbolize those stages, each piece is its own metal, including pink, yellow and white gold.

4. Panthère De Cartier Ring

One of Cartier’s most recognized symbols is the panther. It began its association with the brand in 1914 when Louis-Francois Cartier commissioned an artist to paint a bejeweled lady posing with the wild cat. The piece was called “Dame a la Panthère” and was featured in one of Cartier’s most famous advertising campaigns. Admirers received the panther so well, it solidified the piece into the Cartier brand.

Over the century, you can find the Cartier panther integrated into many of the brand’s works, including the Panthère de Cartier ring. There are currently over 40 models of the panther ring, which you can find in different metals and with various adorned gemstones and unique interpretations.

5. Cartier Juste Un Clou Bracelet

The name of the Juste un Clou bracelet directly translates to “just a nail”—and that’s exactly what it is. The original design is a simple, long golden nail, wrapped to form the shape of a bracelet. The style is minimalist, proving Cartier can make anything beautiful. Now, you can find varying styles, including different metals and gemstone adornments. 

How to Buy or Sell Cartier Jewelry and Watches

Are you ready to part from your Cartier jewelry to make room for new pieces in your collection? Or are you a collector looking for antique and new Cartier styles to purchase? Consider selling or buying Cartier jewelry at Fortuna — a leading auction house serving sellers and buyers across the globe.

How to Buy Cartier Jewelry

Participate in Fortuna’s monthly sales by registering with us first. Before the bid date, confirm your identity by providing a photo of your ID, as well as your credit card information for billing purposes. Once registered, you’ll be added to Fortuna’s book of trusted bidders.

You can bid on Cartier jewelry online by downloading the Fortuna app or using one of our affiliated third-party sites, Live Auctioneers or Invaluable. Or, you can join Fortuna in-person in New York City. When bidding in-person, our auctioneers will distribute numbers and paddles, which you will use to place bids on items you want, like Cartier jewelry or watches.

How to Sell Cartier Jewelry

Before your piece goes to auction, contact Fortuna for a free valuation. We can evaluate your Cartier piece online or in-person via appointment. Our experts will give you a reliable estimate based on a set of criteria, including the item’s:

  • Aesthetic
  • Materials
  • Craftsmanship
  • Condition
  • Alterations
  • Rarity

Once you receive your estimate, we request an in-person valuation. To complete this evaluation, Fortuna will give you an insured shipping label. Using this label, send us your Cartier piece, which we will keep safe and secure in one of our state-of-the-art vaults. Once at our New York City location, we will give you a low and high auction estimate.

If you agree to sign the consignment agreement — stating everything you need to know about our consignment process — we will prepare your item for auction. After the auction, you’ll receive a settlers agreement outlining how much your piece sold for and what you’ll receive for its selling.

buy or sell Cartier

Buy or Sell Cartier Jewelry and Watches With Fortuna

Do you have any questions about how to sell or buy Cartier pieces? Our experts at Fortuna would love to answer them for you. Learn more about how our process works by contacting us online or giving us a call at 212-389-9040.

What Are Moonstones?

With its soft, mysterious milky glow, the moonstone has been a favorite of jewelry lovers for centuries. But what exactly are moonstones? 

Often believed to be a gem, the moonstone is actually a natural crystal mineral variety of the feldspar group. It’s made up of potassium aluminum silicate. The moonstone’s ghostly glow is caused by light moving across the stone — much like moonlight gliding through the clouds on a dark night. 

Where Did Moonstones Come About?

Moonstones have been a staple of jewelry collections for ages. Ancient Eastern cultures obsessed over the stone, believing that it was created by literal moonbeams. Moonstones are often still used in Sri Lanka and India for spiritual purposes. 

The moonstone has found an important place within modern jewelry as well. In the early 1900s, the stone became a focal point of design — often being used as a small accent stone in Art Nouveau-themed statues and art pieces. 

The popularity of the moonstone has ebbed and flowed with style and fashion trends. While the Art Nouveau period produced many famous pieces of moonstone jewelry, it was short-lived and was soon replaced by the Art Deco movement, which emphasized diamonds and gemstones. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the moonstone came back into fashion, popular in rings and necklaces of the counterculture movement. In the 1990s, the moonstone once again became a fashion trend with designers incorporating the stone into the New Age movement of design.

Because of their breathtaking appearance, moonstones will continue to remain popular among jewelry collectors for ages to come.

Tiffany & Co. Antique Moonstone and Sapphire Necklace, achieved $30,000 at Fortuna’s January Jewels & Watches auction.

Do Moonstones Mean Anything?

One of the main reasons that moonstones have remained so popular is the perceived meaning behind them. In spiritual traditions such as feng shui, the moon represents divine feminine energy. The moonstone is believed by some to balance hormonal and reproductive issues, as the waxing and waning of the moon is connected to fertility cycles.

Additionally, the moonstone is thought to represent compassion and empathy as well as the creative and intuitive power of feminine energy. 

Perhaps best known as one of the birthstones for June, moonstone’s connection to both Roman and Greek lunar deities is believed to harness the power of love, passion and great luck.

Are Moonstones Valuable?

The moonstone’s value is based almost entirely on its appearance. The clearer the stone, the more valuable it will be. 

One of the most common reasons for the moonstone to be less valuable is tiny tension cracks inside of the stone. These cracks are known as centipedes, and they interfere with the stone’s adularescence, or unique milky-blue luster.

Prices for moonstones can range anywhere from $10 to over $1000. Clear moonstones that are free of cracks and centipedes will command the highest prices on the market.

Where to Buy and Sell Moonstones

Are you interested in selling or purchasing moonstones? Fortuna Auction is a no-risk fine jewelry auction house that allows you to buy and sell fine jewelry in a transparent, regulated method. Explore Fortuna Auction for upcoming monthly sales today!

Pretty in Pink Diamonds

Pink diamonds are among the rarest fancy color diamonds. Even the famed Argyle mine in Australia, known for producing over 80% of the world’s pink diamonds, finds them only amongst less than 1% of its stock. The value of diamonds like these is expected to skyrocket after the closure of this mine in 2020. In fact, according to the Fancy Color Research Foundation (FCRF), the value of pink diamonds already rose 116 percent between 2010 and 2020. This rise is greater than that of any other diamond, including the extremely rare blue diamond—making pink diamonds a great investment, as well as a wonderful engagement ring.

Now that the Argyle mine has shut, where else can high-quality pink diamonds be sourced? The stones can also be found in Russia, Tanzania, South Africa, and occasionally Brazil. Yet, there is no reported regular production from any mine. Pink diamonds are also graded for the intensity of the color, which follows an internationally recognized scale of: faint, very light, light, fancy light, fancy, fancy intense, fancy deep, and fancy vivid. And like other diamonds, the stronger the color, the higher the price tag. The price per carat of a natural fancy pink diamond can range anywhere between $100,000 per carat to over $1,000,000 per carat.

“I believe in pink.”

Audrey Hepburn
2.01-Carat Natural Fancy Pink Diamond Ring

Pink diamonds aren’t only special because of their rarity. Part of the allure of pink diamonds is their mystery. To this day, gemologists aren’t entirely sure how the pink diamond obtains its color. Unlike other Fancy Color Diamonds, the pink shade is not caused from chemical impurities that cause some diamonds to appear blue or yellow. Some suspect that the enormous pressure undergone by pink diamonds during formation is a likely cause, though others believe it could be related to a seismic shock that impacted the stone’s molecular structure. As a result, the color and hue of lab-grown pink diamonds cannot be replicated to appear even close to that of a true natural pink diamond.

Pink diamonds became the talk of the town and rose in demand after the engagement of Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck in 2002. The star popped the question with an eye-popping fancy pink diamond ring by Harry Winston. The recent rekindling of romance between the two stars has sparked much speculation over whether the return of “Bennifer” would also mean the return of her pink diamond ring. The pink diamond engagement ring craze even spread to other celebrity couples, such as Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds, Victoria and David Beckham, and Margot Robbie and Tom Ackerley.

Throughout the eighteenth century, pink was the most fashionable color for both gentlemen and ladies. By the nineteenth century, color was feminized, as Euro-American men adopted black suits. In the 1940’s, pink began to be used to as a gender signifier in babies, a result of clever marketing to sell more baby clothes. Since then, pink has seen huge transformations. From its association with Barbie and femininity, it has now become a powerful, at times, even “punk” color—or so says Dr. Valerie Steele, director of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.

“Pink is the only true rock and roll color.”

Paul Simonon, bass guitarist for The Clash
2.01-Carat Natural Fancy Pink Diamond Ring, offered in Fortuna’s June Jewels & Watches auction.


While not much is known about how pink diamonds get their color, the color pink has captured people for centuries, inspiring such devotion and iconic phrases as “la vie en rose” and “I believe in pink.” In popular culture, pink has been used to depict an array of moods, from the fun-loving attitude of Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde” to Elvis Presley’s cool pink Cadillac. In Audrey Hepburn’s film, “Funny Face,” women were encouraged to do away with the dull beige and black of everyday life and “Think Pink!”. The color is truly electric and appropriate for all occasions. So whether your style is more “Pretty in Pink” or “Punk Pink,” a pink diamond engagement ring is sure to inspire equal feelings of love, romance, and fortitude in all who wear it.





Rare Muzo Emerald from a 17th Century Spanish Shipwreck Comes to Auction

Imagine seeing hundreds of sparkling green emeralds floating down through the water toward you like raindrops. That is how one former graduate archaeology student, Cris Gober, described his work uncovering ancient treasure. The emeralds were part of the precious cargo from a sunken shipwreck, and they were being sucked up from the seabed by an airlift. The emeralds had spent over 300 years at the bottom of the ocean. Fortuna is proud to have had one such rare 9.47-Carat Fine Colombian Muzo Emerald from the Nuestra Señora de Atocha and Diamond Ring in the recent May Jewels and Watches auction.

9.47-Carat Fine Colombian Muzo Emerald from the Nuestra Señora de Atocha and Diamond Ring, an exciting lot from Fortuna’s May Jewels & Watches auction

In March of 1622, the Nuestra Señora de Atocha left Spain on a four-month journey across the Atlantic to Cartagena, Colombia. It was there that the sizable Spanish galleon retrieved over 71 pounds of emeralds from its South American colonies. They would take their bounty to Panama City, Florida, where it took two months just to record the vast treasures they had amounted. From Florida, they proceeded onto Havana, to join the rest of the 28-ship Spanish fleet, Tierra Firme (Firm Land) and load the most valuable of their cargo onto the Nuestra Señora de Atocha, which was the largest and most heavily armed ship of them all. The Atocha would trail the rest of the convoy in case of an attack from behind. An attack came, but not from pirates or British naval ships; the Atocha was leaving Havana in the peak of hurricane season and succumbed to nature’s fury. Just four days after departing Cuba, the Atocha sunk—taking with it over 260 lives. The few survivors of the wreckage and the surviving Spanish ships marked the spot where the ship sank, but more hurricanes ruined any attempts to salvage the treasure.

The Atocha alone carried cargo whose estimates range between $250 and $500 million, including silver from Peru and Mexico, gold and emeralds from Colombia, pearls from Venezuela, as well as more common goods including worked silverware, tobacco, and bronze cannons. Muzo emeralds are coveted worldwide for their exceptional quality and richness in color. They are named after a town in the Colombian Andes, known as the emerald capital of the world. In fact, the main economy of Muzo remains to this day, 75% emerald mining.

So how did this 9.47-Carat Fine Colombian Muzo Emerald from the Nuestra Señora de Atocha end up in Fortuna’s May Jewels & Watches auction? Over 300 years after the shipwreck, an unlikely hero would discover the treasure. Mel Fisher, a former chicken farmer turned diving shop owner, spent 16 years searching for the famed treasure. While Mel found many clues scattered across the Florida coast, such as copper cannons that were inscribed as belonging to the Atocha, the actual shipwreck continued to elude Mel and his team of divers.

Treasure hunter, Mel Fisher holding a jar of Colombian Emeralds and some Gold recovered from the Nuestra Señora de Atocha. (Courtesy of Mel Fisher’s Treasures.)

Mel continued to search for the ship with his children, and world-record-setting diver, his wife, Dolores. On July 20, 1985, his son Kane, radioed into his father to let him know, they had finally “found the motherlode.” They had found the bow of the ship, and with it, over $400 million in goods. After diving for minimum wage for 16 years, this would change the Fisher’s lives forever—if they got to keep it.

The state of Florida attempted to claim the treasure as theirs, but the Supreme Court of Florida ruled in favor of Fisher and his team. The case could easily have gone another way; only a few years later, a judge ruled the finders of another Spanish shipwreck had to return the treasure to Spain.

American singer, Jimmy Buffet celebrating with the crew behind Silver bars recovered from the ship. (Photo by Don Kincaid via Mel Fisher’s Treasures.)

The images of Mel smiling with glee rocked the media. Not to mention the images of Jimmy Buffet, singer and Florida Keys local, singing while perched on bars of silver recovered from the ship. Mel went on to become a Florida hero and a pop-culture icon, even appearing on “Late Night with Johnny Carson,” wearing some of his favorite artifacts. Much of the cache of treasure, however, went on permanent display at the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West, Florida, which to this day celebrates Mel’s adventures and heroism.

Mel Fisher cheekily posing with his spoils. (Courtesy of Mel Fisher’s Treasures.)

The story of the Nuestra Señora de Atocha isn’t over, however. Experts believe the majority of the ship’s emeralds and other important treasures, would have been kept in the stern of the ship, which remains unfound. Yet Mel Fisher’s discovery was still added to 2014’s Guinness Book of World Records as the most valuable shipwreck to be recovered, despite it being incomplete.

9.47-Carat Fine Colombian Muzo Emerald from the Nuestra Señora de Atocha and Diamond Ring, a part of Fortuna’s May Jewels & Watches auction

While Colombian emeralds are already prized for their exceptional color and quality, Colombian emeralds verified to originate from the historic Muzo mines are even more desirable within the colored gemstone market. This particular Muzo emerald offered in Fortuna’s recent May auction is especially significant given its riveting origins. It achieved a final price of $40,625, flying past the starting bid of $9,500. For more details on this historic piece, click here.

Fortuna’s May Jewels & Watches auction took place on Thursday, May 13th at 11 AM EDT. For full sale results, click here.

Insights into Indicolite

Tourmaline stones have a very complex chemical composition, and over a dozen mineral species of tourmaline are recognized. The most common species of tourmaline are Schorl, Dravite, and Elbaite. Elbaites were first discovered on Elba Island in Italy in 1913, and account for nearly all colored varieties of tourmaline gemstones. They are distinguished from other species of tourmaline for their richness in lithium. In fact, elbaites played an important role in the early discovery of the lithium element in Swedish labs in 1818.

34.29-Carat Indicolite and Diamond Ring

Tourmalines are not only found in every hue of the rainbow but in every range of color intensity imaginable. The ranges in color are so abundant that different shades of tourmaline are often better known by their own individual names. You have undoubtedly heard of red-colored tourmalines or Rubellites; then there is Chroites, which is colorless; Paraiba, a neon-blue to green tourmaline variety that is colored by copper; and Indicolite, the rarest of them all, which possesses a very complex blue shade colored by iron. The presence of iron in Indicolites makes it the only blue gemstone of any kind that will show a drag response when a neodymium magnet is applied.

Indicolite’s name originates from the Latin word for a blue-colored plant known as the “Indicum.” This shade of tourmaline is so rare that the gem commands some of the highest prices per carat among gem collectors.

The desirability of indicolites can be attributed to much more than just their chemical rarity; they are among the most beautiful gems in this world. Indicolite stones are strongly pleochroic, meaning they appear to be different colors when being viewed from different angles. When viewed through their vertical axis, indicolites appear darker in color than when seen through their horizontal axis. Certain indicolites can even exhibit a cat’s eye effect when polished into cabochons.

34.29-Carat Indicolite and Diamond Ring (from Fortuna’s April 2021 Jewels & Watches auction)

Iconic Animals in Jewelry

Jewelry designs are often rich in symbolism, especially pieces featuring creatures great and small, mythical or real. Human relationships with animals have existed since the birth of mankind. This enduring relationship we have with the animal kingdom is responsible for the rich and complex tapestry of animal symbolism, inspiring some of the most iconic jewelry pieces that are forever linked with a jewelry house.

In this article, we have highlighted some of the most iconic animal designs from the celebrated jewelry houses and how they came to be.

“Women are tired of jewelry-looking jewelry, and they want one-of-a-kind pieces… Animals are here to stay.”

David Webb
david webb diamond and enamel tiger
David Webb Diamond and Enamel Tiger Bracelet (Lot 2111, April Jewels & Watches)

David Webb

David Webb is one of America’s most important and distinguished jewelers. He is best known for his distinctively carved, enameled animal bracelets, his use of rich, burnished, textured gold and exquisite rock crystal pieces. The use of animals has been a David Webb signature, admired by collectors who recognize his creative genius. His statement pieces bring animals like the zebra, chimera, leopard, tiger and other fantastic creatures to life. His bold designs have been made even more iconic by powerful women like Elizabeth Taylor, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Beyoncé—who represent a small group of Webb’s influential clientele. This David Webb Diamond and Enamel Tiger Bracelet from our April Jewels & Watches auction is a prime example of Webb’s fierce creativity.

david webb coral panther ring
David Webb Coral Panther Ring (Lot 2219, April Jewels & Watches)

Tiffany & Co. Schlumberger

tiffany & co
Tiffany & Co. Schlumberger Vintage Multi-Gemstone Fish Brooch (Lot 2039, April Jewels & Watches)


Throughout the history of Tiffany & Co., the brand has worked with visionary jewelry designers, including Elsa Peretti, Paloma Picasso, Frank Gehry and, of course, Jean Schlumberger, who is renowned for his layered enamel technique. Jean Schlumberger was deeply inspired by nature and movement, which is apparent in this Tiffany & Co. Schlumberger Vintage Multi-Gemstone Fish Brooch from our upcoming sale. The vibrant fish is caught mid-swim and its gem-covered scales glimmer quickly to bring life to the piece. The jeweler traveled far and wide seeking inspiration from places like Bali, India, and Thailand. The “Bird on a Rock” is one of the famed French designer’s most iconic pieces, originally designed in 1956 with the Tiffany Yellow Diamond in mind, one of the largest yellow diamonds to have ever been discovered. Since then, the design has been reissued by Tiffany & Co.—still with only large stones as the bird’s perch. many of which have been sold by Fortuna throughout the years. When Tiffany hired Schlumberger, it was made clear he was to maintain his unique style in his creations for the jeweler. That much is evident in this Tiffany & Co. Schlumberger Diamond Multi-Gemstone and Enamel Cow Brooch, perhaps inspired by his travels to India where the animal is held to be sacred. The bold brooch is currently available for a starting bid of $4,500 in our April Jewels & Watches sale.

diamond multi-gemstone and enamel cow brooch
Tiffany & Co. Schlumberger Diamond Multi-Gemstone and Enamel Cow Brooch (Lot 2018, April Jewels & Watches)

Cartier

cartier emerald panthere brooch
Cartier Emerald “Panthère” Brooch in 18K Gold

When discussing animal designs, the world-renowned brand, Cartier has become synonymous with the Panthère. When Jeanne Toussaint, a Parisian style icon, became acquainted with French jeweler Louis Cartier, new inspiration for Cartier’s famous jewelry line was born. As a result of Toussaint’s elegance and remarkable determination—as well as her finely decorated apartment adorned with leopard skin—she earned the nickname “La Panthère” from her then-lover, Louis Cartier. Toussaint soon became the creative inspiration for many of Cartier’s most popular Panthère motifs.

nautilus shell coral and emerald brooch
Cartier Nautilus Shell Coral and Emerald Brooch/Pendant

Yet, Cartier’s artful appreciation of the animal kingdom is by no means limited to the Panthère. This Cartier Nautilus Shell Coral and Emerald Brooch/Pendant from our upcoming April Jewels & Watches sale encapsulates many of the same traditions of excellence as seen in the famous Panthère. The bold accessory is carved in 18K gold and is set with a beautifully carved nautilus shell shaped coral. Cartier has exhibited spectacular ingenuity in their use of red coral, from this striking nautilus conch piece to charming lady bug designs.

The Fascination Behind Royal Jewels

The study of jewelry can be one of the most fascinating areas of study. To truly appreciate it, one must understand everything from the different geological phenomena miles beneath the surface of the earth to produce such wonders as rubies and diamonds, to the social and economic intricacies of the time that influenced how people adorned themselves. Jewelry is a study of science, art, history—everything. One of the first places people turn to when learning about the evolution of jewelry is the monarchies of the world. Through letters, paintings, and civil wars, royal families provide us with a deeper knowledge of jewelry and its place in the world.

Queen Elizabeth II on her wedding day, wearing the Queen Mary Fringe Tiara (via Getty Images)

There is perhaps no royal family alive today as famous as that of the Royal House of Windsor. The British Royal Family has one of the most extensive jewelry collections in the world. Much of the collection we’ve seen today were acquired during Queen Mary’s reign. One of the most iconic pieces of jewelry from her collection was the Fringe Tiara. Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Anne both wore The Queen Mary Fringe Tiara on their wedding days, and Her Majesty most recently loaned the piece to her granddaughter, Princess Beatrice of York, for her socially-distanced wedding to Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi in 2020. The diamonds of this tiara, however, go back much farther than that; they were originally part of a necklace that Queen Victoria had made and given to Mary as a wedding gift in 1893. The avid jewelry collector, Queen Mary, had the necklace taken apart and made into the Fringe Tiara, to resemble those made popular by the imperial court of the Romanovs.

 

Russian Crown Jewels on display after the Bolsheviks established the Soviet Union (via www.usgs.gov)

The quick and violent fall of the Romanov family in Russia saw a huge dispersion of the empire’s greatest jewels and treasures. Historians are still attempting to track down what happened to most of them, which were largely looted. Among the treasures that remain in the country is the Imperial Crown of Russia, a crown thought to be so valuable that its replica alone, which travels the globe as a part of museum exhibitions, is worth $15.1 million in material value. One particularly striking pearl drop tiara known as “the Russian Beauty” found its way into many great hands after the fall of the Russian empire. It went from Empress of Russia Marie Feodorovna, to the 9th Duke of Marlborough, to the First Lady of the Philippines, to eventually fall into the hands of the Philippine authorities when the presidential family fled to Hawaii. It is much hoped that the tiara remains in the possession of the current Filipino government and that it will one day make its way back to the public eye. Another item from the collection of Marie Feodorovna may have wound up in the possession of the British royal family. A diamond and pearl choker with a geometric sapphire and diamond was allegedly purchased by Queen Mary and has been seen on Queen Elizabeth II’s daughter, Princess Anne, on occasions such as the gala on the eve of Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton. 

Princess Anne of England in what is believed to be the missing Romanov Choker
Queen Isabella pledging her jewels for Columbus’ expedition in the 15th century, in a painting by artist Antonio Munoz Degrain (1843-1924), c. 1878 (via Stock Photo).

There is much myth and lore surrounding jewelry, none perhaps as consequential as that of the discovery of the New World. Tale after tale has emerged of how Queen Isabella of Spain sold her precious royal jewels to fund the expedition of Christopher Columbus. Historians largely agree that this did not occur, as the Spanish had a large treasury at the time, but it painted the monarch as a passionate queen who believed in the journey west. In reality, much of Queen Isabella’s jewelry remains in Spain today, and much more was created upon the discovery of gold, silver, and valuable spices in South America.  The Spanish acquired great wealth as a result of the settlement of the New World, wealth whose remnants can still be seen today in the collection of jewelry amassed by the Spanish royal family. 

Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden wears the Napoleonic Amethyst Parure Tiara in Amsterdam in April 2013 (via Michel Porro/Getty Images)

Amethysts were valued higher than diamonds for both their color and their rarity. Amethysts can be found on many Crown Jewels including the Napoleonic Amethyst Parure Tiara, today belonging to the Swedish Royal family. The Swedish Royal Family was put in place by Emperor Napoleon, Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, one of Napoleon’s military leaders who ultimately was elected King of Sweden. The Swedish Royal Family has a vast collection of jewels dating back to the Napoleonic Empire. This stunning Napoleonic Amethyst Parure Tiarae was also once gifted to Empress Josephine by Emperor Napoleon.

Few have had as many jewels or started as many jewelry trends as royalty. True jewelry collectors can appreciate both the rare natural phenomena behind the creation of the stones used, the craftsmanship of the goldsmiths, and, quite importantly, the history of civilizations past that led the jewelry world to where it is today.

Our Favorite Aquamarines At Auction

To celebrate March’s birthstone, our specialists are excited to share some of the finest aquamarine jewels—from a large range of style periods—to have passed through our auctions. 

The name “aquamarine” is derived from Latin, meaning “sea water.” It is a blue colored beryl stone that has been prized by collectors and jewelry craftsmen for its transparency and serene blue-green color. The rough crystals are relatively clean, with hardly any inclusions or markings appearing in finished gems—truly giving it the pure nature of a drop of water.     

Tony Duquette Aquamarine Cuff- Fortuna Fine Jewelry & Watch Auction

Tony Duquette Aquamarine and Cultured Pearl Cuff

Why we love it:

An American artist that has been celebrated for his stage and film designs, Tony Duquette sure knows how to bring drama to his jewels. Crafted in 18K white gold, featuring three cut-cornered aquamarines weighing a total of approximately 130 carats, the statement cuff looks as if it could have belonged to one of the many fantastical characters in Duquette’s many productions. With the luster from the black pearl accents, Duquette adds the perfect touch to complete the magical look of this underwater-themed masterpiece.

The gorgeous piece achieved $17,500 at Fortuna’s past Important Jewels auction.

Buccellati Aquamarine Ring

Why we love it:

Buccellati has long been admired for their superior mastery of gold metalwork, creating stunning brushed textures likened to silk or linen cloth. The fine craftsmanship behind the textured foliage ring mount creates the perfect home for this startling 22.37-carat cushion step-cut aquamarine. This center stone is exceptional in both color and clarity, even amongst most other aquamarine stones.

The fine ring achieved $28,800 at auction, far surpassing its pre-sale estimate of $6,000–$8,000 in Fortuna’s February Fine Jewels auction.

Antique Large Aquamarine and Diamond Pendant Necklace

Why we love it:

Quite possibly dating back to the Edwardian era, this antique pendant encapsulates all the elegance and charm seen in the courts of the early 20th century. Crafted in platinum—a fine metal that was heavily utilized in Edwardian jewelry—this delicate pendant features a large 65-carat pear-shaped aquamarine, accented by antique diamonds ranging from Old European-cuts, single-cuts, and rose-cuts.

This gorgeous antiquity achieved $10,000 at Fortuna’s Fine Jewels auction.  

Tiffany & Co. Morganite and Aquamarine Necklace

Tiffany & Co. Aquamarine Morganite and Diamond Drop Necklace

Why we love it:

Aside from the superb craftsmanship that Tiffany & Co. has built its centuries long reputation on, this bespoke necklace is all the more desirable for its one-of-a-kind design. This gorgeous piece features a cascading array of expertly matched marquise-shaped aquamarines and morganites—a gemstone first discovered in 1910 by George F. Kunz, Tiffany & Co.’s own chief gemologist. Tiffany & Co. has long been behind the popularization of lesser known precious gemstones in jewelry designs, and this gorgeous necklace is a prime example of it.

This custom-made necklace achieved a final auction price of $30,000 in Fortuna’s Fine Jewels sale.

Top Instagram Posts of 2020

The year 2020 has been an interesting one to say the least; but the year is not without its victories and we have you to thank for that! The global pandemic put everything in perspective, and here at Fortuna, we wanted to focus our efforts in reaching you directly, and creating the best content imaginable so you could feel confident in your purchases. It’s quite appropriate that in the year 2020, we managed to reach 20K followers (and growing) on Instagram! We are thrilled you love our content as much as we love creating it for you, so here is a look back at some of our top social media posts of 2020.

6.76-Carat Emerald & Diamond Ring

Our top social media post of 2020 came shortly after reaching the 10K follower mark and right before Labor Day weekend, with over 5.1K “Likes” and counting. Emeralds have always been a favorite of Fortuna’s Instagram and Facebook audience, but this 6.76-Carat Emerald and Diamond Ring stood out amongst them all—going on to achieve $25,000 at Fortuna’s August Jewels & Watches auction. The ring is quite reminiscent of the spectacular engagement ring in the film “Crazy Rich Asians”—a resemblance our followers, old and new, were quick to point out in the comments section!

Cartier Rubellite & Diamond Ring

Our social media followers share our love of deep-colored gemstones. This Cartier Rubellite and Diamond Ring didn’t just make it big on social media with almost 4K likes, it also made it big on auction day. The beautiful ring, which had a starting bid of only $3,250, went on to achieve $22,500 on auction day!

Tiffany & Co. Art Deco Aquamarine & Diamond Ring

It’s hard to find a piece that has quite so much going for it as this Tiffany & Co. Art Deco Aquamarine and Diamond Ring. Lovers of colored gemstones, admirers of the Art Deco style that characterized the Roaring Twenties, and fans of the British Royal Family can all find what they’re looking for in this beautiful ring. With a starting bid of $4,500—and over 3.9K likes on social—this beautiful ring achieved $11,250 on auction day.

Art Deco Jaeger-LeCoultre Diamond Ladies Watch

Approval of the British monarchy is at an all-time high, so it’s no surprise that our bidders fawn over their more famous looks. This Art Deco Jaeger-Lecoultre Diamond Ladies Watch in Platinum holds the same mechanical watch movement that Queen Elizabeth II wore on her coronation day and is similarly set in an exquisite diamond bracelet. The beautiful watch got over 3K likes and many big bids, bringing it from its starting bid of $8,500 to its total achieved price of $37,500 in our October Jewels & Watches sale.

Aletto Brothers Fine Sapphire & Diamond Ring

Our followers sure do love rings! This Aletto Brothers Fine Sapphire and Diamond Ring was our fifth top post of 2020—though we have a feeling it may be pushed out of that place soon. After all, we have plenty of content in store with all the exciting auctions we have on the horizon. This ring, however, is perfectly worthy of the spot with nearly 3K likes, 34 comments, and endless glisten!

Thank you to everyone for making 2020 so special. Your support is especially significant to us, now more than ever, and we genuinely look forward to bringing you more beautiful jewels and watches in 2021.