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Pretty in Pink Diamonds


It is said that a gem-quality natural pink diamond larger than 1-carat is even rarer than a Picasso painting, and Fortuna is thrilled to be offering one such diamond: an important 2.01-Carat Natural Fancy Pink Diamond Ring, GIA Certified. This sweet pink stone is surrounded by a halo of round-cut diamonds and is accented by two pear-cuts for an extra touch of feminine grace.

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, GIA Certified


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,” this rare GIA-Certified 2.01-Carat Natural Fancy Pink Diamond 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.

harry winston

Harry Winston: Jeweler to the Stars

Founder of Harry Winston, Inc., famous American jeweler Harry Winston left his impression on the jewelry industry with his love for diamonds and other gemstones. Harry Winston’s collections, both antique and newer styles, are staples in many jewelry enthusiasts’ collections.

Are you looking to consign or buy Harry Winston jewelry? Or are you interested in learning more about your collectibles? Here, you’ll discover more about Harry Winston, his life full of diamonds, and why people call him the “King of Diamonds.”

Who Is Harry Winston?

Harry Winston was a well-loved jeweler, businessman and philanthropist. Today, he is widely known as the “King of Diamonds” and “Jeweler to the Stars” for his many accomplishments as a jeweler.

In 1932, Winston founded Harry Winston, Inc. Today, Harry Winston, Inc., serves the elite globally throughout locations like New York City, London, Paris, Geneva, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Born in 1896, Winston began his journey as a jeweler as a young boy. His father, who immigrated to the United States from Ukraine, owned a small jewelry business that Winston happily worked in. There is a famous story in which Winston, at only 12 years old, identified a 2-carat emerald at a pawn shop which he bought for $0.25 and sold for $800 two days later.

As an adult and businessman, Winston branded himself with his adoration of gemstones. In the 1940s, he revolutionized the jewelry industry with his innovative clustering technique. The technique celebrated the stones rather than the metal setting, maximizing the appeal of every piece. The resulting jewelry exuded life with three-dimensional designs.

Vintage Harry Winston Diamond Earrings - Fortuna Important Jewels Auction
Vintage Harry Winston Cluster Diamond Earrings (Achieved $287,500 at Fortuna’s 2019 Important Jewels auction)

In the same decade, Winston earned the title of “Jeweler to the Stars.” He was the first jeweler to lend diamonds to an Academy Awards actress, Jennifer Jones, who won Best Actress in 1944. Winston dressed royalty, too, selling the Duke and Duchess of Windsor his famed McLean Diamond.

By the end of his life in 1978, Winston owned the second largest collection of historical jewels, second to the British royal family. Harry Winston, Inc. lives on and follows Winston’s lifelong style and values.

What Are Some of Harry Winston’s Most Famous Pieces?

Every Harry Winston piece is sought after for unique angles, intriguing dimensions and organic shapes. But some of the most famous stones in the Winston collection are:

Jonker

The Jonker was a raw diamond found in South Africa in 1934. At the time, the Jonker was the fourth-largest uncut gem ever found, measuring 726 carats. News of the diamond excited the nation. And, naturally, Winston strived to add this raw diamond to his collection.

Winston bought the diamond in 1935. He spent several months debating on the perfect way to cut the stone. Ultimately, the raw diamond was cut into 13 pieces, the largest called Jonker I—a 125.35-carat, emerald-shaped diamond.

Hope Diamond

The Hope Diamond is one of the most recognized diamonds in the world. It was found in India, dating back over four centuries. The first trade record dates back to 1666 when purchased by a French gem merchant. From there, the diamond met many owners, including King Louis XIV, Marie Antoinette and Lord Henry Hope.

In 1949, Winston obtained the diamond from mining heiress Evalyn Walsh McLean’s estate. After a decade, Winston donated the Hope Diamond as a “gift to the world” to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. You can see the Hope Diamond for yourself, as it still rests in the Smithsonian today.

President Vargas

The Vargas, a 726.6-carat raw diamond, was discovered in Brazil in 1938. The raw diamond was named after Getúlio Vargas, the president of Brazil at the time. Winston obtained the diamond and cut it into 29 smaller diamonds, including a 48.26-carat, emerald-cut diamond, named President Vargas.

Get Started at Fortuna Today

Once you’re ready to buy or sell an alluring Harry Winston piece, contact Fortuna Auction. We will walk you through both processes and find a solution that works best for you. Learn more by contacting us online or by giving us a call at 212-389-9040.

art deco

Art Deco Jewelry

If you want timeless jewelry that falls on the cusp of vintage and antique, consider Art Deco. With its iconic and recognizable style, Art Deco jewelry has been many collectors’ favorite era for quite some time. Add touches from the Roaring ’20s to your jewelry collection and learn more about this design era below.

What Is Art Deco Jewelry?

The Art Deco era spanned from 1920 to 1945, including creations and art forms from fashion, architecture, interior design and jewelry. Art Deco jewelry was particularly prominent between the ’20s and ’30s. This period was marked with celebration, as the era came after World War I. Designs were bold, fun and unique to celebrate and reflect individuality.

How Can You Tell if a Piece Is Art Deco?

Art Deco has a distinct style that differentiates it from design periods before and after it. Art Deco saw the creation of jewelry in more masculine styles, from the shapes and motifs to gemstones used. Buying from dependable sellers and auction houses can ensure you get genuine Art Deco jewelry. For your own knowledge, you can tell if a piece is Art Deco by looking for these design features:

  • Motifs: Design trends before the Art Deco period featured feminine, romantic and natural inspiration. The ’20s, ’30s and ’40s broke away from those trends. Instead, motifs were sharp and sought to imagine the future. Sleek lines, triangles, rectangles and geometric shapes graced pieces of jewelry from this era. Sunburst patterns were also popular, mixing the essence of rounded designs with straight features.
  • Gemstones: Diamonds were the focus in Art Deco styles, but precious gemstones and other stones were also commonly put on display. Rubies, emeralds, sapphires, onyx and carnelian shine within the era’s bold and fun uses of color.
  • Metals: Art Deco interior design and architecture featured dazzling gold, but jewelry focused on white gold and platinum. White jewelry was popular during this era as designers paired diamonds with white- or silver-toned metals.
  • Enamel: Along with the traditional jewelry materials came the rise of enamel. The process involved melting powdered glass onto metal. Enameling allowed jewelers to add a variety of fun colors and sophisticated contrast to their pieces.
  • Jewelry pieces: While just about every type of jewelry made an appearance during this era, it did have popular styles. Long pendants, long earrings, cocktail rings, diamond watches, layered bangles and detailed accessories like brooches appear in the Art Deco era. The jewelry suited the fashion of the time, which featured lower necklines and shorter hairstyles.
  • Ring settings: If you are looking for Art Deco rings, you’ll want to understand the typical settings you’ll see in this era of jewelry. Cluster settings group a selection of gemstones, often diamonds, into a dazzling design. A prong setting uplifts a gemstone, which makes it appear larger. Those two designs followed a trend of making a gemstone appear larger than it was, giving jewelry buyers the look of more diamond for their money during hard times. Box settings follow the motifs of Art Deco’s geometrical designs with a squared setting.
  • Worldly inspiration: In this era, jewelry designers gained a more worldly view and translated that into their creations. Japanese, Chinese and Egyptian art inspired unique motifs, materials and processes. Jade and coral make appearances in Art Deco jewelry, as well as dragon and pagoda motifs.
  • Multi-functional jewelry: Another design trend inspired by hard times was jewelry that served multiple purposes. Items like double-clip brooches, for instance, could be worn as one piece or separated to accent collars, lapels or belts.

Who Are the Most Common Designers of Art Deco?

By the Art Deco era, jewelry was seen as a way to express individuality. Jewelry collectors and everyday people alike wanted accessories that put their one-of-a-kind style on display. Plenty of designers and jewelers sought to meet the Art Deco trends and give people the unique pieces they wanted. If you’re searching for antique or vintage Art Deco jewelry, you’ll come across a variety of designers, many of whom you may recognize. Among the most common and famous designers of Art Deco jewelry are:

  • Cartier: Though not the oldest, Cartier is among the most renowned jewelry houses in the world and is the most well-known of the Art Deco era. The jewelry house began as a watch company in 1847 with founder Louis-Francois Cartier. His grandsons later transformed the company into a global brand. Cartier designs for Art Deco rings attracted the world’s attention and that of royal families. Maison Cartier pioneered the use of platinum in jewelry, using the innovation to craft rings, tiaras and watches.
  • Tiffany & Co.: Another recognizable jewelry house, Tiffany & Co. was founded in 1837. This jewelry house embraced the Art Deco style and trends. Tiffany & Co. was known for creating engagement rings, various jewelry pieces and even interior decorations. Many Tiffany & Co. pieces include dazzling diamonds and common geometrical features. You’ll also find emeralds and other precious gemstones.
  • J.E. Caldwell: This jewelry retailer is well-known for James Emmott Caldwell’s creations during the Art Nouveau era. That period preceded Art Deco, but J.E. Caldwell would become synonymous with the ’20s design era. J.E. Caldwell’s designs are among famous and superior Art Deco pieces. The most common styles included diamond rings, which reflected cluster and box settings of the time. The retailer also created emerald rings, diamond and pearl necklaces and other items coveted for their quality.

What Are the Most Common Pieces of Art Deco?

In recent years, a cultural interest in the Roaring ’20s sparked a desire for antique and vintage Art Deco jewelry. That intrigue has made this style easier to find at vintage jewelry retailers and auction houses.

You’ll often find Art Deco pieces featuring diamonds. In prior eras, diamonds were on the decline, but the post-World War I jewelry scene saw an influx of diamonds to use in unique designs. Common pieces of Art Deco jewelry that hold assortments of the dazzling gemstone and others include:

  • Brooches: Clip brooches, in particular, created a stunning canvas. Jewelers decorated brooches with geometric details, diamonds and precious gemstones.
  • Sautoir necklaces: Long necklaces with tassel details were common during this era. Several designers created diamond necklaces that suspended a seed pearl tassel.
  • Wide bracelets: From flexible options to cuff styles, wide bracelets were common during this period. Among the rare designs are Suzanne Belperron’s chalcedony bracelets and other pieces.
  • Rings: Styles from cocktail rings to engagement varieties dominated the Art Deco era. These are common pieces to find today, especially if you’re looking for an engagement ring.

Bid on Art Deco Jewelry With Fortuna Auction

If you want to expand your Art Deco jewelry collection or begin one, Fortuna Auction is ready to help. We offer a rare assortment of vintage and antique items in our auctions. Many of these stunning pieces come from the Art Deco period. Bidding on jewelry from decades ago is an exciting endeavor, and we want to make it as transparent and hassle-free as possible. That’s why we provide detailed photos and descriptions of everything up for auction before the bidding begins. You’ll get to browse everything beforehand and read the specifications our specialists verify.

Take a look at our upcoming auctions and get ready to bid on Art Deco jewelry with Fortuna. Bid in-person at our New York City location, online, over the phone or as an absentee. No matter how you bid, you’ll have the opportunity to add stunning Art Deco pieces to your collection.

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.

Valentine’s Day Favorites from Fortuna

Now more than ever, it’s important to make the upcoming holidays especially memorable in a year that often feels monotonous with quarantine. In Fortuna’s January Jewels & Watches auction, we have everything you need to show the special people in your life that you care. From heart-shaped jewelry to romantic rubies, Fortuna is your one-stop-shop for all your Valentine’s Day shopping.

Ruby and Diamond Heart Earrings, Lot 2196

Heart shapes as we know them today have been used for centuries, but weren’t considered a symbol of love until about the 15th century. These Ruby and Diamond Heart Earrings were practically made for Valentine’s Day. The two heart-shaped modified brilliant-cut rubies weigh a total of 3.03 carats, and are as deep a red as the roses she would have otherwise expected as her Valentines gift. The beautiful stones are enhanced by pear- and round brilliant-cut diamonds, most with G-H color and SI clarity.

Invisibly-Set Ombre Pink Sapphire and Diamond Flower Earrings/Pendant, Lot 2067

The gifting of flowers for Valentine’s Day originated in Europe during the late 17th century. This Valentine’s Day, preserve the tradition but add a dazzling twist by bidding on these charming Invisibly-Set Ombre Pink Sapphire and Diamond Flower Earrings/Pendant. Set with caliber-cut pink sapphires, these lovely earrings are holiday-appropriate and are just in time for the coming spring season.

Tiffany & Co. Antique Moonstone and Sapphire Necklace, Lot 2216
Antique Diamond Bypass Ring, Lot 2264

The allure of gifting vintage and antique pieces is behind the many stories estate jewelry has to tell. Unlike most commodities, the beauty of jewelry can be eternal—a wonderful symbol of everlasting love and a memento of your love story that can be passed down for generations to come. Fortuna’s January auction is overflowing with estate jewels dating as far back as the Victorian era, with highlights such as this Tiffany & Co. Antique Moonstone and Sapphire Necklace, and an Antique Bypass Ring featuring stunning Old European-cut diamonds.

Amethyst and Diamond Chandelier Earrings, Lot 2050

February’s birthstone is none other than the amethyst. The beautiful purple stone is the most valuable of the quartz variety and is a symbol of everlasting love. The stone is said to have been worn by St. Valentine himself; the patron saint of the holiday wore an amethyst ring with a cupid engraving. This Valentine’s Day, mark the occasion with an extra symbolic pair of Amethyst and Diamond Chandelier Earrings.

Diamond and Cultured Pearl Princess Length Necklace, Lot 2213

Pearls are a staple piece in everyone’s jewelry box, and are seeing a revival in recent months, with figures like Harry Styles and Vice President Kamala Harris donning these classic accessories. This antique Diamond and Cultured Pearl Princess Length Necklace is more glamorous than most, set with a clasp of three impressive cushion-shaped diamonds weighing over 8-carats in total.

Ruby and Diamond Necklace, Lot 2142

Ruby is considered to be a stone of love, passion, and energy—all necessary traits for an enduring romance. This Ruby and Diamond Necklace is set with an approximate 50-carats worth of round mixed-cut rubies and over 3 carats of round brilliant-cut diamonds. This vibrant and versatile accessory can be worn year-round, as well as serve as a wonderful reminder of your precious bond.

Alex Sepkus 4.03-Carat Pear-Shaped Diamond Ring, D/IF Type IIa, Lot 3003

If you are hoping to make this Valentine’s Day a night to be forever remembered, Fortuna’s January auction also comes complete with a broad selection of engagement rings. The most exceptional ring of them all is the Alex Sepkus 4.03-Carat Pear-Shaped Diamond Ring. Pear-shaped diamonds are a popular choice because of the optimal brilliance the cut creates. Furthermore, this diamond features D color, IF clarity, and a Type IIa classification—making it one of finest diamonds to be found on the market. Type IIa diamonds are often referred to as Golconda diamonds because of the centuries long association of chemically pure diamonds with the historic Golconda mines in India; and because the Golconda mines are no longer operational, these diamonds are all the more rare.

Fortuna’s January Jewels & Watches auction is now online and ready for bidding. The sale goes live on Thursday, January 28, 2021 at 11 AM EST.