Auction Article

Phoenix Asset Consortium Ltd.

Our advantage for buyers / sellers

Rubies are amongst the most coveted of colored gemstones and are often associated with passion, warmth and devotion.

The ruby’s rich color, often described as ‘pigeon’s blood’ red, is so highly desired. Clarity is also an essential ingredient of beauty and sometimes there are fine needles within the stone that reflect the light and give it a hazy shimmer at the surface. Ruby is colored by chromium and blue sapphire by a combination if iron and titanium.

The Mogok mining region of Upper Burma is synonymous with the very best gems. The usual sources for rubies are Burma (now Myanmar), Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Siam (Thailand).

Rubies are often heated to improve their color and clarity. Sometimes colorless glass-like substances are used to fill surface reaching cracks. This information should always be disclosed for major stones.

Natural, non-treated Burmese Rubies are the finest of all rubies. They are exceedingly rare and command prices that can be double, triple or even more highly valued than treated stones.

Rubies are perhaps the crown jewel of Myanmar’s resources. Demand for Burmese Rubies has taken off in recent years, especially from China. Prices per carat have soared, jumping by more than 10% a year since 2010. The country is one of the biggest sources of these red gems in the world. As demand continues to outpace the supply of Untreated Burmese Rubies, prices are poised to escalate into the years ahead.

The sharp decline in availability has resulted in record auction prices, which continue to fuel further increases in dealers’ asking prices. Lighter “pink-red rubies remain a distinct bargain and are expected to be the next color category to experience an upswing in both demand and price.”

Why Auctions Matter

Auctions are an integral part of the hard Asset landscape. In many cases, Tier I and Tier II Auction Houses are establishing the market for the best quality Natural Colored Diamonds, Colored Gemstones, Signature Jewelry Pieces, Collectible Watches and Art. Last year for example, Sotheby’s had the top two selling lots in the market. An untitled painting by Michel Basquiat sold in New York for $110.5 million, a record for an American work. But the second and fourth highest prices paid not for art, but for Natural Colored Diamonds. Number 2 was the Pink Star diamond sold in Hong Kong for $71.2 million, a record price for any jewel sold at auction. Fueled largely by China and the sales center in Hong Kong, but also bolstered by Japan and South Korea. Asia is the explosive growth center for all auction houses. Very stable economic growth in the region as well as a stable political situation coupled with uncertainty, volatility and speculation in World Stock Markets have all contributed to a diversification shift to Hard Assets in the portfolio of wealthy investors.

The Rise Of Private Sales By Auction Houses


Though the hammer coming down on a major piece in front of a crowd is excellent for headlines, auction houses have dealt with the pressures of the market by branching out. Private willing buyer to willing seller sales are increasingly important to the bottom line as is helping collectors manage their portfolios and brokering acquisitions for museums. It is this more private area of the business that Phoenix Asset Consortium Ltd. will work to grow and excel in.

In late 2017, Phillips auction house sold a rare vintage Patek Phillipe watch for more than $11 million setting a new record for the auction house.

Like jewels, watches are small, light and do not require special storage. Unlike art, watches are much more robust and easier to transport. Watches are a nice niche category for auction houses. Increasingly, it is the non-art categories that occupy the greatest attention of auction houses led by jewelry!

High Sellers


Source: Rapaport September 2017

Vintage Cartier tutti frutti jewels are among the rarest in today’s auction market, and their prices continue to escalate, according to Carol Elkins, senior vice president of Sotheby’s jewelry department.

“Many of the carved colored-stone jewels from 1925 through the 1940’s inspired by Cartier’s designs that have appeared at auction are often unsigned and unmarked,” she says, “so we cannot know where exactly they were made or who made them. It is safe to say that the style definitely resonated here in the U.S.” Some of the American makers whose tutti frutti-inspired designs have sold at Sotheby’s for well over their high estimates are David Webb, Seaman Schepps and Raymond Yard.

In Europe, Elkins notes, “the Parisian firm Mauboussin produced many examples using carved colored stones, from jardinière brooches to foliate bracelets and sautoirs.” One example is a sapphire, emerald, diamond and enamel brooch, circa 1930. It is styled as a bejeweled flowering plant with carved sapphire leaves and carved emerald beads.

Here are some other high sellers:

$2,165,000* Evelyn Lauder’s tutti frutti diamond, enamel, carved emerald and ruby bracelet by Cartier, circa 1928, sold in 2014 (pictured)

$1,445.000 A carved colored-stone, diamond and pearl tutti frutti bracelet by Cartier, circa 1930, featuring rubies and emeralds, sold in 2013.

$70,000 In 2007, a colored-stone and diamond brooch with carved sapphire, ruby and emerald leaves by Cartier, Paris, circa 1920, sold for more that four times its high estimate. It formerly belonged to actress Mary Pickford.

*All prices include buyer’s premium.

Iconic platinum, colored stone, diamond and enamel tutti frutti bracelet by Cartier, New York c. 1928.