A jadeite bead necklace with a Cartier clasp has sold for US$27.4 million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong – settingworld records for jadeite and Cartier jewellery sold at auction.
The Hutton-Mdivani necklace, which Sotheby’s describes as “the most important piece of jadeite jewellery known to the world” was acquired by The Cartier Collection.
Chin Yeow Quek, the head of Sotheby’s Asia jewellery department, said the sale of the necklace in the company’s Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite auction on April 7, enters “the annals of auction history as one of the most thrilling saleroom competitions ever”.
He said eight bidders, in the room and on phones, competed for 20 minutes to more than double the necklace’s pre-sale estimate of US$12 million and achieve the record price that “fully lives up to the storied past of this captivating work of art”.
The Hutton-Mdivani jadeite necklace, according to Sotheby’s, the Hutton Mdivani necklace brings together the finest jadeite in the most striking proportions.
“This necklace is a true beauty almost too substantial to be real,” the auction house said.
“The most astounding fact lies in the size of its beads… the necklace is composed of 27 exceedingly large jadeite beads ranging from 15.4 to 19.2mm.”
“In general, to fashion a strand of matching jadeite beads, all the beads must be carved from the same boulder, and as many as thrice the desired number of beads are often needed from which to select the most suitable and matching ones. With the immense wastage involved, jadeite bead necklaces rank among the most valuable and sought-after forms of jadeite jewellery.”
The Hutton-Mdivani necklace was named after its former owner, socialite and Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton who was married to Russian Prince Alexis Mdivani from 1933-35.
The necklace remained in Hutton’s possession for about twenty years until she gave it to her childhood friend, Louise van Alen, who had also married into the Mdivani royal family.
The jadeite bead necklace was kept as a family heirloom until 1988 when it made its auction market debut in Geneva and sold for US$2 million – then the highest price ever paid for a piece of jadeite jewellery.
Six years later in 1994, the necklace set a new record auction price for jadeite jewellery in Hong Kong when it sold for US$4.2 million.