But the piece I was most curious about was the Catherine the Great Emerald Brooch. The large emerald and diamond brooch adorned one of the world's most powerful and ruthless female leaders ever to live, Catherine II of Russia. She ascended to the throne in 1762 and her long reign marked a time of Russian expansion and success. She was also a noted jewelry collector with the resources to acquire the world's best gems. This brooch was given to Sophie Dorothea, princess of Württemberg, as a wedding gift on the occasion of her marriage to Catherine's son and successor Tsar Paul I in 1776. It has a hexagonal cut Colombian emerald estimated at between 60 and 70 carats. The stone is surrounded by rose and old mine-cut diamonds set in silver-topped gold. It was estimated to sell for $1 million to $1.5 million and went for $1.65 million to a private Middle Eastern buyer.
The Christie's sale racked up $41.25 million, with 85 percent sold by lot. The biggest seller wasn't either of the two pieces mentioned above, Instead that honor went to a heart-shaped, 28.28-carat D flawless diamond, which sold for $3.78 million, an impressive $133,000 per carat. History has its merits but for diamond lovers, a D flawless grading can be even more important than provenance.