FORTUNA’s most-anticipated sale of the year, the December Jewels & Watches auction, came to an exciting close on Thursday, December 10, 2020 after nearly a full day of live bidding activity. December’s curated collection offered a wealth of iconic estate jewels, important gemstones, and rare vintage timepieces—giving holiday shoppers the perfect opportunity to surprise their loved ones with one-of-a-kind treasures. In total sales revenue, the December auction sold nearly $1.9 million in jewelry and watches, showing promising signs of the return of consumer confidence in luxury accessories. For full sale results, click here.
Only a year after setting global auction records for a 1991 limited edition Cartier Crash watch, FORTUNA has returned bringing yet another vintage watch rarity to market. Despite being one of the later consigned items of FORTUNA’s over 400-lot catalog, the impressive Rolex Daytona Ref. 6241 in 14K Gold got the bidding attention it deserved. Amassing one of the world’s largest followings in vintage sports watches, the Rolex Daytona is a tour de force of mechanical timepieces. Debuting in 1966, the Ref. 6241 is especially rare for its 14K gold case—only seeing about 3000 examples made in all metals. Opening at auction with a starting bid of $70,000, the price quickly climbed between multiple phone bidders. After a tense final exchange between two phone bidders, the classic timepiece eventually went for a hammer price of $135,000 and a final achieved price of $168,750.
NEW YORK, November 13, 2020—FORTUNA’s November Jewels & Watchessale concluded last Thursday, affirming the return of the strength of the fine jewelry and watch market, despite a challenging year for the industry. The NYC-based boutique auction house was extremely well-positioned to tackle the changes in luxury shopping that 2020 has brought by bringing the excitement of an auction completely online. With its state-of-the-art website and growing social media presence, the boutique auction house attracted plenty of new bidders to their autumn auction.
Rubies have been appreciated by royalty in both Eastern and Western culture. Discover the alluring qualities of this rare gemstone and some of Fortuna’s favorite ruby jewels offered in past auctions.
Fortuna is excited to delve deeper into the history and lore of July’s birthstone, the magnificent ruby. Because of the deep blood-like color, the precious gemstone has been thought to hold the power of life in ancient cultures. The stone was believed to protect the lands of kings and noblemen in ancient India, and has long been perceived as a symbol of royalty in medieval Europe. In fact, the literal translation of “ruby” in Sanskrit is the “king of gemstones.” The deep red tint of the ruby has naturally also come to symbolize love and passion and has become the gemstone of choice in romantic gifts.
Rubies in Popular Culture
Rubies have such a long and rich history of being appreciated in both the East and West, it is no wonder that their influence stretches into cinema and popular culture. One of our favorite examples would be the iconic ruby red slippers worn by Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz.” While the original ruby slipper were actually made of felt, glue, and stones more suitable to crafting, for the 50th anniversary of the film, Harry Winston jewelers created a real-life pair of the iconic slippers—using 50 carats of diamonds and nearly 1,400 carats of rubies. And thus, the famed American jewelry house created the most expensive pair of shoes in the world. The slippers, which were meticulously set with 4,600 beautiful ruby stones, is valued at $3 million. Rubies have also made their way into your favorite rom-coms. In the 1990 film “Pretty Woman,” Richard Gere gifts Julia Roberts with an accessory as red as her hair. The wealthy tycoon presents her with a custom ruby necklace set with 23 pear-cut rubies. And unlike most movie props, the necklace was actually real—custom made by French jeweler, Fred Joaillier. It consisted of 23 pear-shaped rubies accented by diamonds in the form of a heart. This scene was made all the more iconic by Gere’s snapping the box shut on Ms. Roberts’s fingers as she goes to put on the lavish accessory. You can relive the comedic moment below.
Our Favorite Ruby Jewels Seen At Auction
Fortuna has had the pleasure of offering some of the most stunning ruby jewels at auction. Our specialists have come across fine rubies that have adorned jewelry by the renowned makers of our time to jewels dating back to the Victorian and Art Deco style eras. It was a true delight to recollect some of the finest ruby jewels our specialists have set their eyes on.
ROCK CRYSTAL CONVERTIVLE CUFF BROOCH, ATTRIBUTED TO SUZANNE BELPERRON
When auctioning the estate of legendary New York heiress and socialite, Bo Legendre, our jewelry team faced the daunting task of pricing her vast collection of jewelry. Our top jewelry specialists knew a select group of pieces had to be the work of the master jeweler of the early 20th century, Suzanne Belperron. Belperron believed her style to be her signature, and while she was right, it made it extremely difficult to authenticate her works. Through vigorous research, our specialists were able to identify and acquire certificates of authenticity for five of the pieces in her collection and attestations from famed Belperron expert, Mr. Olivier Baroin for the rest. Like many of Belperron’s creations, this rock crystal convertible cuff and flower brooch was truly ahead of its time and unlike any of the popular Art Deco jewels of the age. The brooch is set in platinum, displaying beautiful cabochon rubies weighing a total of approximately 5.90 carats, and round brilliant-cut diamonds weighing a total of approximately 0.20 carat, with I-J color and VS clarity. The unique design can be worn as a brooch fastened by double pin-stems or attached to an 18K white gold cuff. This wondrous piece was offered for $10,000; but with Belperron’s name attributed to the design, the lot ended up achieving $78,125 at auction.
A 2.34-CARAT UNHEATED BURMESE RUBY AND DIAMOND RING
Featuring a very lively, unheated Burmese cushion-cut ruby, this 2.34-Carat Ruby and Diamond Ring achieved more than double its starting bid at Fortuna’s 2017 Summer Fine Jewels sale. The ring comes in a platinum setting and is accented by round brilliant-cut diamonds, and is reminiscent of Jessica Simpson’s 2010 ruby and diamond engagement ring. Our in-house expert gemologists determined the ruby’s color to be “Pigeon’s Blood”—a rare characteristic among rubies that greatly enhances their value. The color is described as having a bright red hue with a small tint of purple that appears deep red when seen in light. This extraordinary color contributed in earning the ring $48,000 at auction.
VAN CLEEF & ARPELS “COUSCOUS” RUBY AND DIAMOND BRACELET
The french jewelery maison, Van Cleef & Arpels, has long been acclaimed for its elegant designs and use of quality gemstones. In fact, in 2019 the jewelry house released their “Treasures of Rubies Collection,” which featured 3,000 carats worth of rubies set into 60 unique pieces. This Van Cleef & Arpels “Couscous” Ruby and Diamond Bracelet is no exception to the brand’s dedication in creating only the finest ruby jewelry. Their jewelers choose only the cleanest of stones—a truly difficult task due to the presence of chromium in rubies. While chromium gives rubies their beautiful hue, it also makes them prone to cracks. As a result, very few rubies are able to grow intact into larger sizes and form perfect gemstones. Van Cleef & Arpels selects only the finest natural rubies possible, all of which are unheated and well-cut stones. Crafted in 18K gold, the bombe bracelet of polished gold boules is accented by 156 circular-cut rubies, weighing a total of approximately 8.00 carats—each ruby graced with a remarkable red. The rubies are flanked by three rows of round brilliant cut diamonds, creating a beautiful contrast. This eye-catching accessory had a starting bid of $15,000 at Fortuna’s February Fine Jewels sale in 2018 and ended up achieving $31,250 at auction.
CARTIER FINE BURMESE UNHEATED RUBY AND DIAMOND RING
Some of the most famous rubies in the world were set into designs by the French jewelry maison, Cartier. In 1957, Elizabeth Taylor was filmed being gifted a suite of ruby Cartier jewels by her husband famed film producer, Mike Todd. The images of her glamorous lifestyle made waves everywhere as she had already been wearing a diamond tiara while swimming in the couple’s pool. Taylor wore the ruby jewelry many times throughout her life, to red carpet events and when meeting royalty. This Cartier Fine Burmese Unheated Ruby and Diamond ring holds the same glamour and show which would make it worthy of Elizabeth Taylor. Crafted in 18K gold and featuring a 1.63-carats cushion-shaped Burmese unheated ruby, this spectacular cocktail ring is covered with round brilliant-cut diamonds of E-F color and VS clarity. This magnificent domed accessory achieved $27,500—more than triple its starting bid—from an excited phone bidder at our 2019 Magnificent Jewels sale.
ART DECO 6.36-CARAT UNHEATED BURMESE RUBY AND DIAMOND PLATINUM BROOCH
This antique 6.36-Carat Unheated Burmese Ruby and Diamond Platinum Brooch is quintessential Art Deco design and an excellent example of spectacular ruby gemstones. Crafted in platinum, as many Art Deco pieces often were, this unique brooch features an unheated Burmese ruby cabochon weighing an impressive 6.36 carats. It is difficult to find a large ruby of such a natural pure red hue. This deep red is augmented all the more by accenting it with 60 old European-cut diamonds of F-G color and VS clarity. This contrast in colors and the geometric design is highly characteristic of the Art Deco period. Unsurprisingly, this fine piece of jewelry history achieved $25,000 at auction.
BULGARI BURMESE RUBY AND DIAMOND “TROMBINO” RING
One of the largest rubies in the world is known as the Rajaratna Ruby. The ruby is a whopping 2,475 carats and currently resides in Bangalore, India. This impressive ruby first belonged to the Kings of Vijayanagar, a major South Indian empire between 1300 to 1600 AD, and dedicated this stone to the worship of the god Shiva. This impressive ruby, is cut as a cabochon, as were many of the King’s smaller rubies.
The tradition of cutting larger rubies as a cabochon remains today. This Bulgari cabochon unheated Burmese ruby weighs approximately 10.00 carats and is enhanced by stunning round brilliant and baguette-cut diamonds. The Trombino (translated as “little trumpet”) is one of Bulgari’s most time enduring designs. The Italian jewelry brand first introduced the design in the 1930s where it gained instant popularity. The design brought attention to the gemstone at the center and evoked a sense of royalty. It was instantly popular because it allowed the gemstone to stand proud. This Bulgari Burmese Ruby and Diamond “Trombino” Ring evokes that same regal quality as Bulgari’s first designs. This ring is made all the more worthy of nobility with the setting of one of the “king of gems.”
CARTIER RUBY AND DIAMOND RING
One would like to think that Cartier only selected rubies as deep a red as the red leather boxes they are gifted in; and that certainly seems to be the case for this Cartier Ruby and Diamond Ring. This beautiful three-row ring is triple the fun, with each row sitting whimsically atop one another, each featuring a fine oval-shaped ruby cabochon, set diagonally from each other. The rubies are surrounded by pavé-set round-cut diamonds, which further enhances the color of the rubies with its beautiful contrast. This unique piece of jewelry design achieved $22,500 at our September 2017 Fine Jewels sale.
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At Fortuna Auction, we want to be a resource for all who wish to learn more about watches and jewelry—replete with stylistic periods, history of craftsmanship and designers—as well as how to understand the real market value of these fine collectibles.
You can consult our jewelry experts for free, unbiased valuations, with no obligation to sell. And if you do decide to sell at auction, our team will market your item to millions of competing bidders located in more than 50 countries. If you’re interested in buying or selling at one of Fortuna’s upcoming auctions, feel free to contact our office today.
The Cartier Panthère is an iconic jewelry motif with roots in Paris. The history of the Cartier Panthère began with one woman—Jeanne Toussaint. When 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.
What started as a nickname became the basis of one of Cartier’s most stunning developments in jewelry pieces—the Cartier Panthère wristwatch. Toussaint was soon named Head of Creation at Cartier, a coveted position that wouldn’t ordinarily have been held by a woman; her contributions led the company to even greater success throughout the 1900s. Toussaint’s panther was known for its stunningly sculpted yellow gold and black enamel—a color combination that gave the animal more dimension.
In 1914, the famous wildcat appeared on a Cartier wristwatch for the first time. The stones adorning the piece symbolized the feminine temperament and avant-garde allure of the panther, while the diamond’s scintillation was a nod to the wildcat’s gleaming coat.
Thanks to Toussaint’s inspiration, Cartier’s idea to incorporate the panther motif into his jewelry pieces earned him full acclaim in nobility circles. In addition to being the first jeweler to incorporate the panther motif as a trademark on his exclusive timepieces, Cartier was one of the first jewelers to use platinum in his luxurious creations.
Cartier’s elegant panther has endured for more than a century, in part because the Cartier Panthère continues to evolve. In a careful attempt to lend justice to the original piece, artisans sculpt each example in wax, cast the ornament in platinum or gold, then set the piece with thousands of hand-cut gemstones painstakingly positioned to convey movement and life.
A Closer Look at Louis Cartier: The Stirrings of the Cartier Panthère
In taking over the craft of his master, Louis-François Cartier founded his own company in 1847 Paris. His inventiveness and daring capacity to try new things led him to create exclusive, exquisite timepieces revered among the nobility of the time. His attention to detail and supreme level of craftsmanship drew the eye of the French empress Eugenie, among other socialites. As a result, his company expanded rapidly.
Cartier loved to try his hand at a variety of jewelry pieces, and in 1888, he presented his first wristwatch to the public. The watch closely resembled the sleek, classic feminine bracelets of that time. The difference? His addition of a small clock in the design. Following the initial inspiration of this first wristwatch, Cartier was driven to completely revitalize all aspects of watch design.
It may have been this initial curiosity that paved the way for Cartier’s inspired collaboration with Toussaint, as well as his subsequent fascination with the panther. Today, Cartier’s timeless pieces continue to be passed down from one generation to the next. The Cartier Panthère remains an iconic, desirable design of the most serious artistic expression.
A Timeline History of the Cartier Panthère
To better understand how the Cartier Panthère came about and how the bold motif has evolved over the years, we’ve put together a timeline of the iconic design:
1914: Cartier crafts the first panther pattern on a wristwatch and presents it to the public. The watch was adorned with white diamonds, spotted with striking onyx stones.
1922-1935: The spotted panther motif starts appearing on various Cartier watches, jewelry designs, and accessories, such as cigarette cases.
1948: The Duchess of Windsor tasks Jeanne Toussaint with creating a panther brooch and the first three-dimensional representation of the panther is born. The sculptural approach with the panther design redefines how Cartier breathes life and personality into their future panther creations. The Duchess of Windsor, being so taken by the iconic feline, later purchases more than six additional panther designs. The most famous pieces are the panther brooch of pavé diamonds and sapphires, perched atop a 152.35ct sapphire cabochon, and an onyx and diamond panther bracelet, which most recently achieved over $7 million at auction.
1949-1950: American heiress, Barbara Hutton and French socialite, Daisy Fellowes, among other fashionable aristocrats, begin investing in their own versions of the panther.
1983: Cartier launches the Panthère de Cartier line of quartz watches. Although a ladies’ watch, the fine yellow gold link bracelet perfectly matched the 80s “glam” aesthetic, and the watch quickly saw an upsurge in popularity—featuring notable celebrity wearers, such as Keith Richard and Pierce Brosnan.
2005: Introduction of the Panthère de Cartier ring with its fangs bared. It is the first appearance of the Cartier panther in a stylized, faceted design.
2012: Panthère de Cartier necklace in white gold, with pavé diamonds and emerald eyes. The modern jewel can be worn in two styles, as a choker or an opera-length necklace, according to the position of the panther head on the link. A stunning example of style and ingenuity.
2017: Panthère de Cartier High Jewelry necklace in platinum, aquamarines, emeralds, onyx and diamonds. In this opulent masterpiece, the iconic feline seems to be emerging from a waterfall, and its stretched silhouette creates the illusion of movement.
The Cartier Panthère Today
The Cartier Panthère, much like the fierce, untamable feline, possesses many facets to its personality and continues to be reimagined in countless jewelry designs. Whether it’s the more abstract spotted pattern that emboldens elegant jewelry designs, or sculptural representations of the panther that give the motif life and sparks of energy, the Cartier Panthère has established itself as a visual icon in jewelry history.
Today, vintage Cartier Panthère jewels, especially dating back to the height of Jeanne Toussaint’s time as Cartier’s creative director, continue to demand sky-high prices at auction. Contemporary Panthère jewels remain just as popular with the social elite, and with the unmatched quality of Cartier craftsmanship, they make great opportunities for investment when they appear at auction.
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The Cartier Panthère retains its roots in luxury, history, and tradition while still being the perfect accessory for the modern woman. There are few pieces that, without trying too hard, convey bold utilitarianism and a refined restraint all at once. If you are hunting for the perfect Cartier piece to add to your collection, visit our Upcoming Auctions page to browse our upcoming sales.
At FORTUNA, we want to be a resource for all who wish to learn more about watches and jewelry—replete with stylistic periods, history, craftsmanship and designers—as well as how to understand the real market value of different types of collectible jewelry and watches.
NEW YORK, December 16, 2019—Fortuna, the NYC-based auction house specializing in fine jewelry and watches, concluded its final auctions for the year, Important Jewels and Important Watches, achieving over $1.8 million in revenue and setting a world record for the iconic Cartier Crash, one of the most unusual and intriguing watches on the market.
Created in 1967, legend has it that the Cartier Crash, which resembles the melting clocks in Salvador Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory,” was inspired by a timepiece recovered from a scorching car wreck. Reissued in 1991 in a limited edition of only 400 pieces, the rare timepiece is quickly achieving cult-status and has been spotted on the wrists of high profile celebrities, such as a style icon and avid watch collector, Kanye West. Yet, veteran collectors were shocked when the Crash flew by its high estimate of $50,000, achieving $81,250 at the boutique NYC auction house.
The Cartier Crash is one of the most iconic watches made by the legendary jeweler. The original Crash was made by Cartier craftsmen in the UK after seeing a colleague’s watch that was badly melted in a car accident. The resulting Crash reminded many of Salvador Dali’s surrealist watches in one of his most well known works, “The Persistance of Memory,” and a legend was born that is associated with the “Swinging London” of the 1960s.
NEW YORK, NY— Fortuna Exchange: February Sale was a strong start to a new monthly auction series that Fortuna introduced in 2019, offering collectors a broad range of fine jewelry and watches from celebrated makers across all eras. The Fortuna Exchange was created to provide our sellers greater opportunities per year to sell their assets on a global platform, without the constraints or limitations of consigning their pieces to seasonal sales that are few and far between.
With the addition of regular monthly auctions, alongside our larger signature sales that occur biannually, we are excited to offer our clients a year that is overflowing with rare and exciting fine jewelry and watch offerings.
Estate and Signed Jewelry Lead the Sale
In fine jewelry highlights, signed jewelry performed very strongly—achieving a total sell-through rate by value of 85.4%. In particular, the cover lot, a very fine Cartier 6.69ct Burmese Sapphire and Diamond Ring, prompted a roar of competitive bidding. The property of a New York lady, the finely crafted ring achieved a final price of $65,625, exceeding a pre-sale estimate of $40,000-$50,000. All in all, jewelry by Cartier and Tiffany & Co. drew the attention of bidders across the globe, achieving sell-through rates by value of 81.5% and 84.6% respectively.
A Cartier Unheated Burmese 6.69ct Burmese Sapphire and Diamond Ring. Achieved $65,625 at auction, against a pre-sale estimate of $40,000-$50,000.
NEW YORK, NY—Fortuna’s highly anticipated three-part winter auction series took place on December 6-7, 2018, achieving a total sale revenue of around $4 million USD. The auctions offered an exemplary collection of jewelry and watches from the most prestigious makers in their craft, including Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Tiffany & Co., Rolex, and Omega.
Highlighting Fortuna’s first sale of the season, Session One: Magnificent Jewels, was an exquisite 3.05ct Fancy Intense Blue diamond ring. Naturally occurring blue diamonds are found in less than 0.02% of all diamonds mined and are one of the rarest gemstones in the world. This particular blue diamond ring was consigned by an important Asian collector and exhibited a gorgeous and vibrant blue hue that is rarely seen, even among blue diamonds. After a round of tense bidding that had the auction floor buzzing with excitement, the ring achieved $1,395,000, selling to a phone bidder.
In addition to colored diamonds, Magnificent Jewels also featured an exquisite assortment of rare estate jewels and signed pieces spanning many historical style periods. Of the many jewelry highlights, a stunning Art Deco Cartier sapphire and diamond bracelet truly evoked the classic glamour that is characteristic of the Roaring Twenties era. The piece achieved $76,800 USD against a pre-sale estimate of $60,000-$90,000.