LOS ANGELES — On March 29, jewelry collectors, dealers and enthusiasts participated in the Jewelry from the Estate of Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree auction presented by John Moran Auctioneers. Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree was one of Santa Barbara’s most well-known philanthropists and a pillar of the community. The auction achieved one-and-a-half times the median estimate and earned white-glove status. The 85 lots offered included necklaces, earrings, bracelets, brooches and rings featuring gemstones such as sapphires, rubies, pearls, emeralds and, of course, diamonds.
One of Ridley-Tree’s most treasured pieces was a diamond ring comprised of a 25.80-carat pear brilliant cut diamond in a platinum setting flanked by two pear-shape diamonds totaling 1.25 carats. The GIA report on the diamond states it possesses G color and SI2 clarity. Starting with a $400,000-$500,000 estimate, this piece garnered major attention and sold for just under a million dollars — $979,000, to be exact.
Along with the ring, diamond collectors took notice of a pair of diamond stud earrings estimated at $200,000-$300,000. The pair was set with two diamonds weighing 10.07 and 10.22 carats, respectively. Interest in the earrings drove them past their estimate and brought in $468,750.
Gold jewelry proved popular based on the results from lots 31 and 20. Lot 31 was a German gold necklace arranged in a braided design and estimated at $6,000-$8,000. Both bidders and viewers were stunned when the necklace more than quintupled its estimate, selling for $46,875. A Van Cleef & Arpels diamond bracelet, designed with 18K yellow and white gold, was lot 20. Estimated at $15,000-$20,000, the bracelet, graced with 69 round full cut diamonds totaling approximately 7.50 carats and graded F-G color and VS clarity, went for $46,875.
Another highlight of the sale was a Baroque South Sea cultured pearl, diamond and irradiated diamond necklace. Presenting multiple size pearls and 66 round full cut diamonds, this piece surpassed its $3,000-$5,000 estimate sevenfold with a final bid totaling $34,375.
Jewelry collectors were equally excited by a David Webb rock crystal and lapis lazuli bracelet, estimated at $6,000-$8,000. This piece, having three carved oval rock crystal links, two lapis lazuli links, and topped with five carved lapis lazuli stones, more than tripled its estimate to earn $28,125. Another standout, estimated at $8,000-$12,000, was a mother-of-pearl, turquoise and diamond bracelet. This wide hinged bangle bracelet, featuring 45 round full cut diamonds, brought in $22,500.
A Zambian emerald and diamond ring attracted multiple bidders, finishing at $21,250 but starting with a modest $5,000-$7,000 estimate. It was made with 18K gold and a rectangular emerald-cut Zambian emerald, along with 18 round full cut diamonds.
Ridley-Tree’s collection also included some intricate, eye-catching brooches. The favorite of the group was lot 22, a Tiffany & Co. gem-set bird brooch with an estimate of $7,000-$9,000. The brooch was made with mother-of-pearl set with 107 diamonds, topped with 28 yellow sapphires, then accented with a carved black onyx beak and round ruby eyes. This parrot-like piece went for a grand total of $17,500.
Continuing the bird theme was an antique gem-set bird brooch, estimated at $2,000-$3,000. It featured antique full cut and rose cut diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds and flew away with $10,625.
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