Diamond devant de corsage helps Sotheby's to jewellery record

A late 18th century diamond devant de corsage has sold 381.6% above estimate to head yesterday's (December 11) auction of Michael Wellby's jewellery collection.

Appearing at the Sotheby's London sale with a £80,000 ($129,115) valuation, it sold for £385,250 ($621,994) as part of the auction house's last jewellery sale of the year.

Devant de corsage
The diamond devant de corsage’s stunning sale is indicative of the buoyancy of the collectible jewellery sector

Featuring floral motifs and three detachable tassels, the stunning price has much to do with the item's considerable eye appeal.

Even before the auction, Sotheby's had amassed a company record of $450.5m in jewellery sales this year, evidence of the growing appetite for rare pieces among global collectors.

The figures are borne out by Barclays' 2012 Wealth Insights report, which revealed that 70% of the world's wealthiest individuals own precious jewellery, up from 57% in 2007, making it the most popular of any treasure asset.

This increased demand is clearly causing values to grow.

There was also a strong showing from a 19th century wheat sheaf diamond tiara, which made £373,250 ($602,648) against an £80,000 ($129,115) valuation.

Wellby, a Mayfair, London silver dealer, amassed a fine selection of jewels over a period of 60 years, with his collection spanning the 16th to the 20th century.

Diamond tiara
The wheat sheaf tiara also made a mockery of its estimate

Sotheby's Alexandra Rhodes, a jewellery specialist, remarked: "Michael Wellby's jewellery collection was a labour of love.

"He and his wife Joy shared a passion for antique jewellery and they would often return from their travels with a new prize."

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