06 Jul 2020
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There's hope for Luxury Jewellers as Affluent Buyers Lap Up Historic Jewels for Hefty Sums in Online Auctions
Despite the pandemic and looming economic crisis, Cartier’s ‘Tutti Frutti’ has set new record in fine jewellery online auction
By: Diamond World News Service
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May 1 2020 3:10PM
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Reference: 24896  

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Despite the pandemic and looming economic crisis, Cartier’s ‘Tutti Frutti’ has set new record in fine jewellery online auction

This week, in a single-lot online sale, Sotheby’s New York sold a Cartier “Tutti Frutti” bracelet to an undisclosed buyer for $1.34 million. The Art Deco piece was expected to earn between $600,000 and $800,000.
Despite the pandemic and the economic crisis which presumably has set in, this new high is indeed commendable. It diffuses the gloom cast over the world, and especially in the gems and jewellery sector.
Its final price tag is the highest price for any jewel sold in an online auction, according to Sotheby’s, as well as highest price for any jewel sold at auction so far in 2020 by any house.

Cartier’s Tutti Frutti styles exemplify a western cultural fascination with Asia in the Art Deco period, Sotheby’s explained.

An Unmatched History

Cartier's “Tutti Frutti” Art Deco pieces were first commissioned in 1901 by Queen Alexandra, wife of King Edward VII. Pierre Cartier fashioned a necklace from the royal jewels to match three Indian-style dresses gifted to her by Mary Curzon, Vicereine of India.

Each Tutti Frutti jewel is one-of-a-kind. This particular one boasts carved emeralds, rubies and sapphires set in platinum with diamonds, onyx and enamel. Although the name ‘Tutti Frutti’ wasn’t coined until the 1970s, these creations from the 1920s-30s always incorporate Moghul-style carved coloured gemstones in natural motifs: flowers, leaves, berries and fruits. These carved stones, so popular in traditional Indian jewelry, were then mounted by Cartier in platinum and diamond settings, a perfect marriage of East and West.
“The result achieved for this bracelet is testament to the fact that, even under the most challenging of circumstances, the demand for great art endures,” Catharine Becket, Sotheby’s head of magnificent jewels auctions in New York, said in a statement.

The bracelet that sold this week hasn’t appeared at auction before. It was created circa 1930 and has been passed down through an American family for the last 30-plus years. One doesn’t see Tutti Frutti bracelets offered for auction often, maybe once every three to five years.

What’s special about this one?

The rubies dominate the colour scheme. They are arranged in an unusual way, in pairs alternating down the sides. The colours are beautiful, very well matched in terms of hue and vibrancy. But the most unique detail is a subtle "shadow edge’" of black enamel along just one side, that gives this piece depth and character.

The family who sold it also sold the 35-carat Flagler Emerald at Sotheby’s in 2015, which shattered its $1 million to $1.5 million pre-sale estimate, selling for $2.8 million.

“Tutti Frutti jewels have always held a special allure for collectors, capturing the West’s fascination with the ‘exotic’ at a time when travel was relatively limited, much as it is today,” Becket added. “Now, of course, we can connect with the touch of a button, which allowed us to engage with bidders worldwide. We look forward to bringing more great jewels to the marketplace in the months ahead as we expand our calendar of online sales.”

Tutti Frutti bracelet isn’t the only one

Among other jewels, which fetched a high price was: An emerald and diamond necklace from Graff’s Icon collection was the top lot, fetching $52,500, against a high estimate of $15,000, the Christie’s auction. The piece contains 71 round diamonds weighing a total of 2.99 carats and 11 pear-shaped, and nine round, emeralds. A pair of emerald and diamond earrings from the same collection brought in $43,750, well above its $30,000 upper presale valuation. Christie’s garnered $1.4 million from its Jewels Online sale, selling 100 per cent by value.

It is indeed heartening to see that some of the world’s best jewellery aficionados are loosening their purse strings despite the ongoing crises and paving the way for better days ahead for the gems and jewellery industry.

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