Christie’s wrapped up its year conducting 40 online luxury sales in 2020, as many of the auction house’s sales couldn’t be held in person due to the coronavirus pandemic. That represents an 82 percent increase compared with 2019, with a 41 percent increase in luxury lots sold sight unseen, showing a notable rise in confidence in luxury shoppers buying via Christie’s digital platform.
Of those online luxury sales, there was a 205 percent increase in value year over year, with new records set for a jewel, watch and handbag sold online. Record online sale totals were also achieved across all categories.
Reacting to the accelerated shift to online sales in 2020, Christie’s Global Managing Director of Luxury Aline Sylla-Wallbaum said: “The one thing that I will take from this year is the immense trust of our traditional and new client base in our expertise to buy online, without the chance of seeing the objects in the flesh. Also a huge thank you is due to our consignors, trusting in our digital platform and in our excellent client relationships.”
This ring featuring a 28.86-carat emerald-cut Type IIa diamond with D color and VVS1 clarity sold for $2,115,000 at Christie's, setting a record for a jewel sold in an online auction.
Traditional auctions were held in adapted formats, including live-hybrid auctions with increased online bidding through Christie’s LIVE.
Overall, there were bidders from 90 countries, 40 percent of which were new buyers. Performance was strong across all categories, with an 87 percent overall sell-through per portfolio. In addition, 136 records were set and 53 lots sold for more than $1 million.
Jewelry Lots Sold Online Increase 38 Percent
In the jewelry category, online sales were at an all-time high with a 143 percent increase in the amount of online jewelry sales compared with 2019, a 38 percent increase in jewelry lots sold online and a 241 percent increase in the value of online jewelry sales year over year.
In June, Christie’s established the record for a jewel sold in an online auction with a diamond ring achieving $2,115,000. The ring features a 28.86-carat emerald-cut Type IIa diamond with D color and VVS1 clarity mounted in a platinum setting.
Christie’s also set a new auction record for price per carat. At its Geneva Magnificent Jewels sale in November, the auction house sold a 1.05-carat fancy purplish-red VS2 diamond set in a ring by Graff for approximately $2,847,125, which translates to a price per carat of $2,640,000. The rare colored diamond, fashioned into a rectangular modified brilliant cut with cut corners, is surrounded by two heart-shaped diamonds and mounted in a platinum and gold setting.
At Christie’s New York Magnificent Jewels sale in December, the top lot was an extraordinary Kashmir sapphire and diamond bracelet purchased for $6,030,000 by Harry Winston to add to its Legacy Collection. The bracelet, which can be converted into a brooch, features a 43.10-carat cushion-shaped Kashmir sapphire, certified as “royal blue” with no indications of heating or clarity enhancement, accompanied with a letter specifying its approximate age of 21 million years. The Kashmir sapphire is surrounded by eight D-color internally flawless brilliant-cut diamonds in the pear shape, while the band is adorned with 60 pear-shaped brilliant-cut diamonds ranging in color from D to E and in clarity from IF to VS1, all set in platinum.
Blue Diamond Ring Takes Top Jewelry Lot
The overall top lot for Christie’s Jewels for the year was a magnificent fancy intense-blue diamond ring, which sold in Hong Kong in July for $15,870,815. The blue diamond, the color of which is described as “sky blue,” totals 12.11 carats and features internally flawless clarity. It’s fashioned into a brilliant-cut marquise shape and framed by two pear-shaped brilliant-cut diamonds with D color and internally flawless clarity, mounted in platinum and gold.
Throughout 2020, Christie’s held 17 online jewelry sales, including the curated Jewels Online sales, Summer Sparkle, the inaugural diamond online sale and Iconic Designs, alongside charitable online auctions. New strides were made for Jewels Online sales, with online sales expanded to every major sale site. For the first time this year, in addition to Hong Kong and New York, Jewels Online sales were hosted in Geneva, London and Paris, with the first-ever Magnificent Jewels Online sale from Geneva selling 89 percent of all lots and 100 percent by value, attracting more than 1,500 bids from around the world.
Overall, there were bidders from 74 countries, 32 percent of which were new buyers. Global jewelry sales achieved an overall sell-through of 84 percent, and 48 lots sold for more than $1 million.
Christie’s luxury categories also dedicated resources to charity auctions or collections with philanthropic components. Throughout 2020, collectively more than $20 million was achieved in charitable sales or collections.
Christie’s offers around 350 auctions annually in more than 80 categories, including all areas of fine and decorative arts, jewelry, photographs, collectibles, wine and more. Prices range from $200 to more than $100 million. Christie's also has a long and successful history conducting private sales for its clients in all categories, with emphasis on Post-War and Contemporary, Impressionist and Modern, Old Masters and Jewelry.