The Royal Jewellers S01 ep2 : Christies Fine Jewellery Auctions [Paris]
Interview with Francois Curiel
Interviewer: Why is it that jewellery has never commanded the prices of
paintings or pictures?
The answer is simply that there are a few more rubies, sapphies, and emeralds and
diamond below the earth, where the The Pont de Langlois, Arles by van Gogh was only painted
once and there won’t be another one.
Auctioneer (Curiel): At 400,000 francs ……..
Christie's fine jewellery department is a division of Christie's Fine art Auctioneers,
which was founded in 1766 in London. James Christie founded this firm, loved
the business of auction, and distinguished himself from all his competitors,
because he started selling art.
(Auctioneer – French)
He became friends with Thomas Gainsborough, with Thomas Chippendale and
with other very important artists of the 18th century and started selling their works
of art at auction. His sales became very quickly quite famous because he
invented late night viewing where he would ask people to come in special clothes
and he would serve drinks and wine …
Interviewer: So he made it a festive occasion?
Yes, and if we think we will invent anything today perhaps we are wrong because
it was all invented before some 250 years ago.
Auctioneer: Sold to you ??? thank you very much at two million five fifty.
1791 James Christie organised his first sale of jewellery of the late Mrs. Dubarie's
jewels. This is what started Christie's jewellery department 250 years ago.
Interviewer: But this is also the story of the 3 Musketeers.
Auctioneer: Hundred and fifty thousand ….. this telephone…. against you ….
one million three hundred thousand
Interviewer: Why are you doing this?
I was studying law in France when I was 20 years old and my father who did not
want me to do nothing over the three months of summer, sent me to London
develop my English. My father was jewellery dealer he sent me to Christie's
because he was one Christie’s.
Auctioneer: One million five hundred thousand. At one million ..
I took a summer job as an intern, and I basically knew absolutely nothing, but I
took a fancy to it. The power of the marketing, the power of a name like Christie's,
to put together a catalogue, to organise an exhibition, to go on traveling with the
jewellery all around the world with a name of Christie's behind you was extremely
powerful, and I loved it. It was only after that I began to become in love with
jewellery, when I studied it, I went to Geological School and I also learnt it
because I was seeing so many more jewels than one would see if one was
working in a jewellery store.
Auctioneer: At one million eight hundred ….
Interviewer: What were some of the incredible things that came through your
A minute red diamond of below one carat - this was a 95 pointer so ?? one carat,
which we sold for 880,000 dollars. A fabulous sapphire from the Nelson
Rockefeller estate, some fabulous mystery clocks by Cartier, some art deco
jewels by world famous makers.
Auctioneer: Sold to you ……. thank you very much for one million eight hundred
Twice a year, one in Spring and one in the Fall we have major auctions, one in
Hong Kong, New York and Geneva and these your are right are the barometers of
the market. If for instance, a 5-carat ruby of a certain quality and a certain colour
sells for 80,000 dollars a carat. You can be sure that the next morning in all the
jewellery stores (in that city where the stones was sold) the prices of 5 carats in
the ruby would be sold for so much.
Auctioneer: … hundred thousand one million at one million one million one
hundred thousand ……. one million two hundred thousand
Interviewer: What do you feel is the quintessential feeling of jewellery today in
terms of design?
Jar has been for 25 years now the prima donna of all the jewellers and their works
are still on the card for auction, bringing extremely high prices. We sold in Geneva
on November 22nd, a butterfly for $420,000. A blue, dark sapphire and diamond
Interviewer: What, from Jar?
Yes, from Jar, this went for a very, very high price. The previous butterfly had
been sold in 1988 - a very similar object for 300,000, so we can see that the
prices are still going up. There are new designers. Chanel has come into the
market with a new jewellery collection, with a jewellery collection. Dior, Christian
Dior is (overlapping) ??? is coming up with a new jewellery collection. We are
seeing Bulgari now coming with new jewellery collection and so there are new
vogues if you want.
Auctioneer: … Sir, thank you very much, that’s two million six hundred
Interviewer: What is so special about people like Jar?
I think the quality of his work, the fact that as I said before, that everything is one
of a kind, so you buy one piece and you know you won't see it on some other
lady's dress at another evening. The fact that he probably spends more than
many jewellers on the quality of the workmanship and if he is unhappy with a
piece he simply destroys it…
Even though he has paid for it. Also his promotion, or rather lack of promotion,
makes that everyone wants to buy a piece of jewellery by Jar. Actually I
remember the first exhibition he had of his works, in 1977 in New York you were
given a flashlight and a catalogue and you were asked to go in a room which was
semi dark because it was like a treasure hunt. And rather than having a 1000
watts lamps shinning on every jewel like you would see at a normal exhibition, you
had to walk around a room, which was enough light so that you would not bump
into one another, but not enough light to look at the jewels. So you had to
discover, you had to search for the jewel, rather than they coming at you with
huge lights. So this is what makes Jar completely different from any other jeweller
in the world. I don't know if you have been to his shop at 7 Place Vendome but
you can walk past his shop 50 times without seeing anything. Because it is a shop
where there is nothing in the window, doesn't even have a name. There is a nasty
little bell and none of this business of here come and look at my marvellous jewels
- nothing. And if they don't know you and you press the bell because you have
heard about it, they say ' what do you want?' Well I would like to see some
jewellery! Sorry we are a small firm, we have nothing to show you, there is
nothing today. So they make you it very, very difficult for you to buy.
Interviewer: Well, how do you buy if you want to buy them?
You have to know somebody, who knows someone who has bought.
Interviewer: Are you serious?
Yes, it is a real world of Mars and once you get admitted in the shop they also
have to like you, and if they do like you they will sell to you, otherwise they will say
- sorry we have nothing to sell today.
Auctioneer: ???????? against you here and against you there at eight million.
Your bid. Last chance now.
Interviewer: What are some of the funny objects you have had to handle?
I think probably the most unusual piece because of its price was that 95 pointer
red diamond which we estimated 150 to 200,000 dollars which are already a lot of
dollars for a 1-carat diamond, which was sold for a million dollars. I would say
that’s probably would remain all my life the pinnacle of my career at Christie's.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Christies Fine Jewellery Auctions