pink diamond

The Spirit of the Rose pink diamond, will be auctioned by Sotheby’s on 11 November

In celebration of an upcoming sale of an ultra-rare Russian pink diamond known as The Spirit of the Rose, Sotheby’s invited fashion editor Carine Roitfeld to style a contemporary ballet performance of the Ballets Russes’ acclaimed 1911 Le Spectre de la Rose. On the eve of the auction, Sotheby’s jewellery specialist Benoit Repellin discusses the historic relationship between jewellery and dance

‘Dance is an art and I think jewellery can also be seen as a form of art. As I generally say to clients, there are three things to look at when admiring a jewel or thinking of buying one at auction: nature, art and provenance. Nature being the quality of the stone; art being the jewel and the craftsmanship involved in the cutting of a stone or the making of a piece of jewellery; and provenance being the history of the piece.

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There are several links between the different worlds of art, fashion, dance and jewellery. Between 1909 and 1929, the Ballets Russes really engaged all the disciplines and brought together artists from the different fields to work on a ballet. It was a social phenomenon, and jewellery designers attended ballet performances and took inspiration from the movements, the costumes and the decors to bring new vocabulary and motifs into jewellery.

women in changing room

three women

Carine Roitfeld (middle) with ballerinas Bianca Scudamore and Naïs Duboscq from Opera National de Paris

Charles Jacqueau, the main designer at Cartier, attended ballets, took details from the performances, inspiration from the dancers, the costumes, the colours, and translated them into amazing jewellery pieces. Van Cleef & Arpels took the motif of the ballerina and made brooches set with gemstones, in the late 1940s, and it is still one of their most popular design. I think the beauty and poetry of dance and jewellery are meant to be linked and it appeals to a lot of connoisseurs.’

rough pink diamond

The rough diamond was originally named Nijinksy after the ballet dancer. It was later renamed ‘The Spirit of the Rose’

‘The rough diamond mined in Russia in 2017 was named Nijinksy, a testimony and homage to one of the most famous Russian ballet dancer from the Ballets Russes company. The best-known performance and the one that’s most strongly associated with Valslav Nijinsky is Le Spectre de la Rose (The Spirit of the Rose), which premiered in Monte Carlo in 1911. This is the name Alrosa, the diamond company which mined and cut this exceptional, ‘fancy vivid’ purple-pink diamond, gave to the faceted stone.’

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‘The occurrence of pink diamonds in nature is extremely rare in any size. Only one per cent of all pink diamonds are larger than 10-carats and only four percent of all pink diamonds are graded ‘Fancy Vivid’ and display a rich, vivid colour. Having the opportunity to offer a large polished pink diamond of over 10-carats and with the richness of colour and purity of The Spirit of the Rose is, therefore, truly exceptional. The diamond’s character and immense presence is further enhanced by its oval shape. It is a truly mesmerising stone; a natural wonder, steeped in Russia’s century-long diamond tradition and cultural heritage.’

‘We’ve been wanting to work with Carine Roitfeld in some capacity at Sotheby’s for a while. A fashion icon and visionary creative, her voice was something that we wanted to bring to Sotheby’s in a way that would be disruptive and new. With this in mind, when the Spirit of the Rose came to us, we thought of Carine instantly. Not only is she half Russian, but she herself was once a dancer and her favourite ballet is in fact Le Spectre de la Rose, which was a favourite of Karl Lagerfeld’s as well. Bringing her eye and visual sensibility, we asked her to style Le Spectre de la Rose as a tribute to The Spirit of the Rose and to bring this magnificent diamond to life. It has not disappointed!’

Watch the teaser video of the ballet performance below:

The Sotheby’s live auction of ‘The Spirit of the Rose’ takes place on 11 November at 8:30 PM CET. To register and for more information visit: sothebys.com