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Auction experts: Christie's François Curiel on jewellery

Whether your at home or at sea, a few carefully selected jewels are a wardrobe essential for any woman. However, if your passion for all things sparkly is so great that you're seeking to start a jewellery collection then there are a few things you should know about buying at auction. François Curiel, chairman of Christie’s Europe and Asia & head of Christie’s Global Luxury Division, gives his expert advice...

The most important sale you have done?

One is the sale of Florence Gould’s collection in April 1984. After beating our competitors for this extraordinary consignment, we had to plead with the New York Department of Consumer Affairs to change a state law dating back to 1840, which forbade jewellery sales during night time. We were successful and invented the first jewellery evening sale in New York. Another unforgettable moment is the auction of the Elizabeth Taylor collection in 2011: every single one of the 1,778 lots was sold, bringing in $157m and numerous world records, including the most valuable jewellery auction and the most valuable collection of fashion. Some items were sold at 50 times their pre-sale estimate.

The most interesting piece you’ve sold?

Over my 48 years in the industry, I have had the privilege of handling more than 3,000 pieces of jewellery and rare gems per year. This is an impossible question to answer!

What do you collect?

Gavels! I have a collection of over 80 and growing.

Market insight

Coloured diamonds are the latest trend. It is not rare for coloured stones to fetch $1m to $2m per carat, depending on the intensity of the blue or pink hue, whereby colourless diamonds of top quality could “only” bring $100,000 to $200,000 per carat.

Your advice to collectors?

Read all you can, go to auctions and speak to specialists, but please do not buy anything until you are comfortable with your knowledge. A 5ct sapphire, for instance, might be worth $3,000, $10,000 or $200,000 per carat depending on its origin.

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