Largest Kashmir sapphire ever auctioned and a royal tiara are the stars of this year's May magnificent jewels sales in Geneva.

A staff holds a 1930s sapphire and diamond brooch, featuring the largest Kashmir sapphire ever to appear at auction, during a preview at Sotheby's before their auction in Geneva, Switzerland, on May 6, 2021.
A staff holds a 1930s sapphire and diamond brooch, featuring the largest Kashmir sapphire ever to appear at auction, during a preview at Sotheby's before their auction in Geneva, Switzerland, on May 6, 2021. (Reuters)

A tiara passed down through generations of Italy's royal family will be among the highlights at a Sotheby's auction of jewels in Geneva next week that will also feature the largest Kashmir sapphire ever to appear at auction –– a 55.19-carat oval gem. 

Dating to the second half of the 19th century, the tiara was a wedding gift to Maria Vittoria dal Pozzo upon her marriage in 1867 to Amadeo I of Savoy, later king of Spain.

The tiara features graduated scroll motifs set with diamonds and natural pearls and is on sale with an estimate price of $1 million to $1.5 million.

A staff holds a diamond and pearl tiara passed down through generations of the Italian royal family during a preview at Sotheby's before their auction in Geneva, Switzerland, on May 6, 2021.
A staff holds a diamond and pearl tiara passed down through generations of the Italian royal family during a preview at Sotheby's before their auction in Geneva, Switzerland, on May 6, 2021. (Reuters)

"It's a true, beautiful and historic piece which has remained in the House of Savoy for over 150 years," said Benoit Repellin, head of magnificent jewels sales at Sotheby's.

Keen to attract the interest of a new generation, Sotheby's created an Instagram filter that allows people to create a picture of themselves wearing the Savoy tiara in a sumptuous Italian palace.

Largest Kashmir sapphire

The May 11 sale also features large diamonds and coloured gemstones, including a 1930s sapphire and diamond brooch featuring the largest Kashmir sapphire ever to appear at auction - a 55.19-carat oval gem - alongside a Kashmir sapphire weighing 25.97 carats.

Estimated to fetch $2 million to $3 million, it belonged to an heiress of the Guinness brewery fortune, said Olivier Wagner, senior director of the jewellery department at Sotheby's.

Kashmir sapphires are sought after as they were discovered at the end of the 19th century and the mines were only exploited over 20 years, he told Reuters.

"The only way to find them is to buy them at auction," he said.

"Kashmir sapphires are among the rarest coloured gemstones known to man," said Repellin, head of magnificent jewels sales at Sotheby's in Geneva.

"These gems have over the years acquired an almost legendary status."

Other standout items include a pendant set with a 104.40 carat pear emerald, mounted by US jeweller Harry Winston, offered by Sotheby's for $1-1.5 million.

An model pose on May 6, 2021 with Right: an emerald and diamond brooch/pendant combination, Harry Winston, circa 1970, set with a pear-shaped emerald weighing 104.40 carats and Left: an emerald and diamond brooch/pendant combination Harry Winston, set with a step-cut emerald weighing 80.45 carats during a press preview ahead of sales by Sotheby's auction house on May 11, 2021 in Geneva.
An model pose on May 6, 2021 with Right: an emerald and diamond brooch/pendant combination, Harry Winston, circa 1970, set with a pear-shaped emerald weighing 104.40 carats and Left: an emerald and diamond brooch/pendant combination Harry Winston, set with a step-cut emerald weighing 80.45 carats during a press preview ahead of sales by Sotheby's auction house on May 11, 2021 in Geneva. (AFP)

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies