Luxury At Any Price

1.  DALLAS, TX.- A one of a kind Hermès 32cm Matte Geranium Porosus Crocodile & Black Togo Leather Sellier Kelly Bag with Feet, quite possibly the rarest and most-sought after Kelly bag in existence, is expected to bring more than $50,000 as the lead lot of Heritage Auctions' Dec. 10-11 Holiday Luxury Accessories Signature® Auction. It's a one-of-a-kind, special edition piece that carried an original retail price of nearly $60,000.
"All Hermès lovers have to hear is that this bag is one-of-one and they will know that it is an extraordinary piece," said Matt Rubinger, Director of Luxury Accessories at Heritage. "It was created as part of the whimsical and exclusive Petit H Exhibition and could be the most collectible bag in the world."
The auction is one of the largest and most important sales that the luxury accessories market has ever seen. It will take place in Dallas, Texas after a three-city tour and preview of the pieces.
The serious Hermès collector is sure to be drawn to the most impressive selection of ultra-exclusive and popular bags from the fashion house that sets the bar for leather goods. Examples are a Special Order Horseshoe 35cm Orange H, Vert Anis & Jaune Togo Leather Birkin Bag with Palladium Hardware, opening for bidding at $7,500 and a stunning Limited Edition Barenia & Shearling Kelly Muff Clutch Bag, opening for bidding at $2,000.
There will also be highlights of the most important creations from designer Marc Jacobs during his soon-to-be-ending tenure at the helm of Louis Vuitton.
"This is a major moment in the fashion world as Jacobs is stepping aside at Vuitton," said Rubinger. "He's done radical and amazing things with the brand and has everyone wondering what his legacy will be. To celebrate the groundbreaking work Jacobs did, we've put together a selection of his most famous pieces for Vuitton."
The auction features the extremely rare Louis Vuitton 2003 Limited Edition Eye Love Monogram by Takashi Murakami White Eye Dare You Overnight Bag. It is the most significant piece from his 2003 Eye Love Monogram Collection, with Takashi Murakami, and is opening for bidding at $2,000. The most sought-after piece from his Graffiti Collection in 2001, for which Jacobs collaborated with Stephen Sprouse, the Louis Vuitton 2001 Limited Edition Monogram Graffiti Speedy, is opening for bidding at $500. In addition, the 2012 Louis Vuitton Prune Ostrich Alma PM Bag with Gold Hardware is opening for bidding at $2,000 and represents another peak of Jacobs time with Vuitton.

2. HONG KONG (AFP).- A 118.28-carat white diamond broke a world record Monday when it fetched more than $30 million at a Hong Kong auction.
The sparkling translucent stone was sold to an unnamed phone bidder at the Sotheby's auction for HK$238.68 million ($30.6 million) following bidding that lasted for more than six minutes, leaving auctioneers thrilled. "We are extremely thrilled," Quek Chin Yeow, deputy chairman of Sotheby's Asia, told reporters following the sale, describing the buyer only as a "private collector". He said the sale signalled a "moving trend" for the southern Chinese city to host major global auctions. Hong Kong has become a centre for jewellery auctions thanks to growing wealth in China and other parts of the region. "The sale alone proves that we can actually sell major diamonds here in Hong Kong. It's a moving trend," he said. "The downturn everybody thinks is happening in Asia, or the slowdown... a lot of the collectors are still extremely wealthy individuals," he said. The egg-shaped
stone sold Monday has been described as the finest of its kind ever to appear at auction. Earlier estimates valued it at $28-$35 million. The stone, dubbed the "Magnificent Oval Diamond", was discovered in a deep mine in an undisclosed southern African country in 2011. As a rough stone before being cut, it weighed 299 carats. The stone, described by Sotheby's as "the largest D colour flawless diamond" sold at auction, has been given the highest quality rating awarded by the Gemological Institute of America. "D colour" diamonds are rare and colourless and fetch premium prices. The sale beat the record set at a diamond auction last year, when a 101.73-carat diamond was sold for $26.7 million. Another rare gem, a 7.59-carat blue diamond, was not sold, however, because bids fell short of auctioneer's expectations. Earlier, the stone was estimated to fetch up to $19 million. © 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse

3. GENEVA (AFP).- A spectacular and rare orange diamond, the largest known gem of its kind, was on Tuesday auctioned off for a record $31.5 million in Geneva. "At the back of the hall, 29million francs ($31.5 million, 23 million euros). Sold!" the Christie's auctioneer said as the fiery almond-shaped gem was snapped up in a room of about 200 people in a luxury Geneva hotel. The price excluded another $4.04 million in taxes and commission. The man who made the purchase swiftly got up and left the room to a round of applause. Christie's did not reveal his identity. The deep orange gemstone, which was found in South Africa, weighs a whopping 14.82 carats. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has handed it the top rating for coloured diamonds: "fancy vivid". Pure orange diamonds, also known as "fire diamonds", are extremely uncommon and very few have been auctioned, with the largest never more than six carats. "To have one that's over 14 carats is exceptional," Christie's international jewellery director David Warren told AFP. He said "The Orange" was "the largest recorded vivid orange diamond in the world". In 1990 the 4.77-carat yellow-orange Graff Orange diamond was sold for $3.92 million dollars and in 1997 the vivid orange Pumpkin diamond of 5.54 carats was sold for $1.32 million. Christie's had estimated "The Orange" would rake in $17 million to $20 million. Rare and expensive 'freaks of nature' Coloured diamonds, once considered a curiosity, are rarer than white diamonds and today attract higher prices per carat than even the most flawless, translucent stone. That, Warren explained, was because, "coloured diamonds are real freaks of nature. They begin as white diamonds, and it's some accidental colouring agent in the ground that will turn it a particular colour." Green diamonds, for instance, are coloured by radioactivity in the ground, blue diamonds get their colour from boron, and yellow diamonds, which in very rare cases turn orange, are coloured by nitrogen. Pink diamonds meanwhile get their colour from a distortion in the crystal lattice as the stone is taking shape. Coloured diamonds "are extraordinarily rare stones," agreed David Bennett, who heads the European jewellery division at Sotheby's. Christie's rival is set to auction off a flawless 59.60-carat vivid pink diamond, called "The Pink Star", in Geneva on Wednesday, with an asking price of $60 million.
Like "The Orange", the flawless plum-sized shimmering "Pink Star" has received the highest possible colour rating from GIA, as well as top marks for clarity. It is also the largest of its kind, Bennett said, insisting the anonymous seller was not asking too much. "Very, very few of these stones have ever appeared at auction and three years ago, a five carat vivid pink made over $10 million. So the estimate on this stone of $60 million would appear to be very reasonable," he told AFP. For those who can't cough up that kind of money, both Christie's and Sotheby's "Magnificent Jewels" auctions will also offer a range of other items of historic importance but with lighter price-tags. There is for instance a seven strand pearl necklace, sold by "a royal family" at an asking price of $4.5 million. Or the shimmering emerald and diamond necklace by Cartier that has been in the collection of Bolivian tycoon Simon Itturi Patino since he bought it for his wife in 1938.

4. GENEVA (AFP).- A plum-sized diamond known as the "Pink Star" was auctioned in Geneva
The 59.60-carat "Pink Star" is the largest in its class ever graded by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), with the second biggest less than half its size. The sparkling oval-cut rock measures 2.69 by 2.06 centimetres (1.06 by 0.81 inches), and weighs 11.92 grammes (0.026 pounds). In addition to its top colour and clarity ratings, it falls into a rare subgroup with the purest diamond crystals and extraordinary optical transparency, comprising less than two percent of all gem diamonds, according to the GIA. "The pink diamond, I have no hesitation in saying, is a truly amazing, royal stone. There is no stone of that size and colour known," said Bennett. The "Pink Star" was 132.5 carats in the rough when it was mined by De Beers in Africa in 1999, according to Sotheby's, which has not said which country it came from. It was cut and polished over two years by Steinmetz Diamonds, and unveiled to the public in 2003 under the title of the "Steinmetz Pink". The near-translucent rock was renamed after it was first sold four years later for an undisclosed sum to an unidentified buyer. Sotheby's declined to name the seller in Wednesday's auction, nor would it say whether the gemstone had been bought and sold again since 2007. Best known for shimmering white translucence, diamonds in fact come in all sorts of colours. Green diamonds, for instance, are coloured by radioactivity in the ground, blue diamonds get their colour from boron, and yellow diamonds, which in very rare cases turn orange, are coloured by nitrogen. "I think coloured diamonds have finally come of age. They are amongst rarest of all stones, and they are finally reaching the level where the is matching the rarity," said Bennett. A vivid blue, 5.04-carat diamond ring fetched 6.1 million francs ($6.6 million) -- a million francs over its estimate. And the final lot, the "Wasilewska Briolette Diamond" -- a yellow diamond brooch once owned by opera singer Ganna Wasilewska -- sold for 9.7 million francs ($10.5 million). Beyond the diamonds, a 114.74-carat sapphire hit 7.6 million francs ($7.1 million), almost double its upper estimate. Analysts note that investors have often turned to jewels in uncertain economic times. They also carry prestige for growing global elites. "In the last 30 years, the market has become completely international," said Bennett. © 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse
Wednesday for $83 million, a world record for a gemstone. David Bennett, chairman of Sotheby's jewellery division in Europe and the Middle East, brought down the hammer in a Geneva hotel after an intense, five-minute bidding race between four contenders. The winner, a bearded man apparently in his sixties sporting a Jewish skullcap, ended pitted in a one-on-race against a telephone competitor to whom Patty Wong, chair of Sotheby's in Asia, spoke in Mandarin from the auction room. The bearded man declined to identify himself to AFP but confirmed that he had been representing another individual. Sotheby's later said the buyer was Isaac Wolf, a New York diamond cutter, who was going to rename the stone "The Pink Dream". The diamond was the star of a high-end jewelry auction in the upscale Beau Rivage Hotel on the shore of Lake Geneva. The "Pink Star" was the penultimate lot, and there were gasps of awe as a model stood next to Bennett on the auction podium wearing the diamond, which is mounted on a ring. "And now for something different. One of the most remarkable gemstones ever to appear at auction," Bennett said as the bidding opened. The auction was conducted in Swiss francs, starting at 48 million and working its way upwards million-by-million. There was a long silence as the price reached 67 million Swiss francs, before the in-room bidder came back with the winning 68 million. The final Swiss franc price, including Sotheby's premium, was 76.32 million -- the equivalent of $83.2 million. The some 150 people in the auction room erupted into applause as the theme tune from the "Pink Panther" was played in a tongue-in-cheek gesture and staffed handed out glasses of pink champagne. The diamond had been estimated at $60 million. Three years ago, Sotheby's set an auction record of $46.2 million for a diamond when it sold the "Graff Pink" gemstone. The Sotheby's auction came a day after rival house Christie's sold an almond-shaped diamond dubbed "The Orange" for $35.5 million, also a record in its category. 'A truly royal stone'