Blue Belle sapphire sets new world record, selling for more than $22 million

A Christie's staff member wears the Blue Belle of Asia, a 392.52-carat sapphire, during an auction preview in Geneva on Nov 6, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
A Christie's staff member wears the Blue Belle of Asia, a 392.52-carat sapphire, during an auction preview in Geneva on Nov 6, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

Geneva (Agence France-Presse) - A sapphire known as the Blue Belle of Asia has set a new world record after selling for 16.965 million Swiss Francs (S$22.646 million) at a rare jewellery auction in Geneva, Christie's said.

The 392.52-carat gem was snapped up by a private collector on Tuesday night for the highest ever offer for a sapphire at auction.

The Ceylon sapphire mounted on a diamond necklace was the highlight of a sale of rare and historical jewels that brought in US$150.21 million (S$193.86 million) - also a record for the Magnificent Jewels sales held regularly around the world by Christie's.

Other star lots included a pair of Cartier tigers, formerly in the collection of the Duchess of Windsor, which sparked a bidding battle before they were sold for US$3.14 million.

And a 19th-century brooch that once belonged to the French Empress Eugenie's was sold for US$2.33 million.

According to Rahul Kadakia, international head of Christie's jewellery department, around 600 people from 30 countries took part in the auction, which far exceeded pre-sale estimates of US$80 million,

Combined Christie's sales of jewellery and fine watches held in Geneva from Sunday to Tuesday reached US$185 million, the highest since the auctioneer's first sale in Switzerland in 1969.

Rival auctioneer Sotheby's will be staging its own jewellery sale in Geneva on Wednesday, wrapping up the November auction season in the Swiss city.