Garnet and Diamond Egg Creation–« The World’s Largest Polished Garnet ». By Manfred Wild,Idar-Oberstein, Germany. Estimate US$ 300,000 – 400,000 (€240,000 – 320,000). Photo: Courtesy of Bonhams
LOS ANGELES, CA.- This festive season at Bonhams is sure to attract those looking for that unique holiday gift. The top highlight of the upcoming Gems, Minerals & Lapidary Works of Art and Natural History Auction on November 23 is “The World’s Largest Polished Garnet” and Diamond Egg Creation.
The luxurious gemstone carving by Manfred Wild, has an estimate of $300,000-400,000. Possibly considered the finest and most striking of Wild’s egg creations, the exotic-looking object is carved from an immense rough garnet discovered in Orissa, India, weighing approximately 5,696 carats, and possesses the deep hue of a fine claret wine. It opens up to reveal a diamond-set cross of 18K gold and platinum, mounted on both sides with a total of 456 diamonds. Beneath the egg is an 18K gold « crown of thorns, » which acts as a collar. When turned, it serves to open and close the egg.
Additional offerings include Christmas-themed objects, the most remarkable of which is an illuminated music box carved of rock crystal, diamonds and aquamarine, dubbed “The Winter Palace”, estimated to bring $200,000-250,000. The unique features of this piece include a Russian onion-domed palace tower carved of highly-transparent rock crystal. An aquamarine key turns to activate the electrified music box so that the multiple doors of the palace open to reveal a magical interior of wintry scenes complete with an 18K gold “snow-covered” Russian “dacha” and pine trees encrusted with diamonds.
« The Winter Palace »—An Illuminated Music Box of Carved Rock Crystal, Diamonds and Aquamarine. By Manfred Wild, Idar-Oberstein, Germany. Estimate 200,000 – 250,000 (€160,000 – 200,000). Photo: Courtesy of Bonhams
Manfred Wild, who has followed in his family’s tradition of gemstone cutting since 1630, is arguably one of the most renowned lapidary artists and creators of “objets d’art” to emerge from Idar-Oberstein, Germany. He is best known for his virtuoso work in rare, precious and semi-precious materials carved as perfume bottles, animals, whimsical figures, flower studies, enameled eggs with concealed « surprises », cameos and “objets de fantaisies” made of precious stones, gold and silver. Wild also follows the traditions established by René Lalique and Peter Carl Fabergé (Russian jeweler, 1846-1920), and a great number of parallels can be seen in their work.
The 396-lot auction also includes a section on the rarest types of natural pearls such as quahog, abalone and conch pearls, extraordinary un-mounted collector’s gemstones as well as the “100 Carat Club” collection of large gems. The mineral section features dozens of specimens from the Estate of Carey A. Parshall, Stamford, CT with an emphasis on Moroccan and Mexican examples. Headlining the Natural History section is the oddly charming and authentically complete taxidermic mount and skeleton of a two-headed calf, estimated to fetch between $50,000-60,000.
Authentic Two-headed Calf: A Taxidermic Specimen and A Complete Skeleton Mount, Bos taurus, Miles City, Montana. Estimate 50,000 – 60,000 (€40,000 – 48,000). Photo: Courtesy of Bonhams
On the following day, November 24, Bonhams will hold the World of Opals Auction, the fourth annual event of its type. Presenting 122 lots of un-mounted opals, objects carved of opal and opal jewelry in various colors from world localities, many of which will serve to surprise and entice collectors. The auction has a heavy emphasis on rare black opals from Lightning Ridge, Australia – a region famed for having the largest known black opal deposits in the world. Highlights include an exceptionally rare black “nobby” opal with vivid color (est. $65,000-85,000), a rare black opal with a “ribbon” pattern, named “Desert Sands” (est. $45,000-65,000) and a glowing blue-green on black pattern opal named the “Peacock Opal” (est. $50,000-60,000).
Exceptional and Rare Black Opal, Lightning Ridge, New South Wales, Australia. Weighing approximately 25.11 carats and measuring 23.5 x 17.5 x 9.0 mm. Estimate 65,000 – 85,000 (€52,000 – 68,000). Photo: Courtesy of Bonhams.
Rare Black Opal with « Ribbon » Pattern–« Desert Sands », Mulgah Rush, Lightning Ridge, New South Wales, Australia. Weighing approximately 12.35 carats and measuring 18.5 x 16.0 x 6.0 mm. Estimate 45,000 – 65,000 (€36,000 – 52,000). Photo: Courtesy of Bonhams.
Spectacular Blue-Green on Black Pattern Opal–« The Peacock Opal », Lightning Ridge, New South Wales, Australia. Weighing approximately 33.80 carats and measuring 43.0 x 30.0 x 4.0mm. Estimate 50,000 – 60,000 (€40,000 – 48,000). Photo: Courtesy of Bonhams.
Commenting on the items offered in these two auctions, Bonhams Co-consulting Director of the Natural History Department, Claudia Florian says, “This is perhaps the largest and best collection of Lapidary Works of Art we have offered with an emphasis on top quality German works created over the last five decades. With regard to our fourth annual World of Opals Auction, these colorful and precious gemstones are the fifth most popular gemstones in the world, and Bonhams is the only international fine art auction house to have established auctions in this collecting category.”