Posted on: 21 February 2023
Lots of Love: February 2023
Love was certainly in the air during our February Valentine’s auction, where a spectacular sapphire and diamond ring sold for an incredible £15,000 + Buyer’s Premium. The ring, which featured an impressive 13.8 carat Burmese sapphire, was discovered amongst a collection of vintage and costume jewellery from an estate in Shropshire.
“One of my favourite parts of this job is when clients arrive with a box of curios for us to explore!” says jewellery valuer Helena Waudby. “It’s not uncommon to find precious jewels in unassuming places. However, the sapphire ring stopped me in my tracks – we knew immediately that it was special. We arranged for it to be sent to the gem laboratory for formal identification, which not only confirmed that it was a sapphire, but one of Burmese origin. The vendors were equal parts surprised and thrilled – it just goes to show that it is always worth double checking your old jewellery boxes before dashing down to the charity shop!”
Sapphires are amongst the most valuable gemstones in the world, but Burmese stones are considered particularly valuable for several reasons. First is their rarity – Burmese stones are rare and are found in specific mines in Myanmar (previously known as Burma). These mines have a limited supply and high demand. Second is their quality – their deep blue colour is considered the finest amongst sapphire hues, and their clarity and lustre also contribute to their popularity. Lastly is their history – Burmese sapphires have a long-standing association with Royalty, nobility and wealth. They have been coveted for centuries, and their rich history adds to their value. “This stone had a rich, even inky-blue hue that sapphire buyers are looking for. Further, it was in a beautifully crafted, delicate setting which complimented the stone without detracting form it’s impressive size and colour. It’s no wonder that it caught attention of buyers nationally and internationally, and its final result is not surprising – it is a truly special piece of jewellery.”
There was further success in the painting section with a selection of coastal landscapes by artist Donald McIntyre (1923 – 2009), consigned from an estate in Cheshire. “McIntyre’s are much sought after on today’s market, so to have four consigned by the same vendor was quite exciting!” says paintings specialist Simon Grover. “Of particular note was Rocky Sea Shore No.3 which demonstrates McIntyre’s unique use of colour to create depth and texture, for which he is so well known. Our buyer’s always respond well to McIntyre’s work, which results in competitive bidding on sale day!”
While he is often considered a Welsh artist, McIntyre was born in Leeds and studied painting in Scotland under renowned colourist James Wright RSW. Whilst he had a passion for painting, McIntyre trained and worked as a dentist for a number of years, before leaving the profession age 40 to pursue painting full time. He moved to North Wales in the 1950’s, where he was inspired by the iconic coastal landscapes and rugged scenery. McIntyre is regarded as an excellent colourist in the Scottish tradition, and his works remain tremendously popular at auction. Rocky Sea Shore No.3 surpassed its pre-sale estimate, selling for £3800, followed by Breaking Sea and Bridge and White Boat which sold for £2800 and £1500 respectively.
Further results of note came from the furniture section, with a near pair of George III chest of drawers selling for £2400. “Both chests are of great age and quality,” says furniture valuer Ian Woodward. We suspected they might be stamped Gillows – they certainly where the quality of their pieces! However, these chests are unmarked. What makes these so unusual – and therefore so sort after – is the fact that we found a pair. Individually, they are still quality pieces of good value, but having a pair certainly quadruples their value.”
There were further successes with a Regency rosewood table selling for £1700 and a George I chest on chest which made £1600.
Reflecting on the strong performance of the furniture section, Ian said “The market seems to be on a steady upward trajectory. The market has somewhat settled since the pandemic highs, but we are still seeing exceptional results for rare and the extraordinary items – things of unusual size, shape or composition, which are well constructed and in great condition. Good quality always prevails, even in uncertain times!”