Bidding treat for art and jewellery fans

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 September, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 September, 2004, 12:00am

Holding the rare Burmese ruby up to the light, Christie's jewellery expert Vickie Sek tried to explain why the blood-red gem was expected to fetch up to $12 million at auction.

'Just look at it,' she said, her voice full of wonder. 'It is just so beautiful and so rare. It makes me feel so satisfied. And yet I can't take my eyes off it.'

The Burmese stone, a pair of large pearl earrings and a hand-painted 18th-century ivory and agate fan are among the items to go under the hammer at Christie's autumn auctions on November 1 and 2.

Ms Sek said the 8.03 carat ruby with its 'saturated pigeon-blood colour' and 'vivid transparency' was one of the best jewels to be auctioned in Hong Kong for several years.

'It is big and it is beautiful. The stone glows brighter and with more lustre than the tip of a burning cigarette,' she said.

She was equally enthusiastic about the earrings, estimated to be worth up to $6 million.

The Christie's promotional brochure says: 'Of exceptional lustre and size, these drop-shaped white and purplish grey natural pearls measuring approximately 15mm by 24mm are among the finest to be offered at auction in Asia.

'Today, natural pearls are becoming increasingly scarce and are more than ever synonymous with refinement, richness and beauty.

'Given the depletion of the natural pearl sources due to pollution, large, natural pearls are particularly rare and are highly prized by connoisseurs.'

Beyond the ruby and pearls, the auction at the JW Marriott hotel will include other works of art including diamonds, emeralds and jadeite jewellery.

One particularly eye-catching piece is the 244-year-old depiction of the Greek mythological figures Bacchus and Ariadne on the island of Naxos hand-painted onto a chicken-skin fan, expected to fetch $500,000.