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Oriental Sunshine to Imperial Cushions: These are the most expensive earrings in history

In the realm of high luxury and exquisite craftsmanship, jewellery has always been revered as a symbol of prestige. And similar to several distinguished necklaces and bracelets, earrings, too, enhance the beauty of the wearer while showcasing remarkable design and opulence. But the most expensive earrings in the world are so elegant, rare and extravagant that they form a league of their own.

Composed of diamonds or other coloured gemstones, each pair commands astronomical prices not only for the stones adorning them but also because of their brand value and rich provenance. Whether sourced from the collections of an empress or renowned high-jewellery houses, these earrings have a long history as well. Owing to such a legacy, many of these have made headlines at auction houses and are truly a sight to behold when kept on display.

Here are some of the most expensive earrings in the world

Memory Of Autumn Leaves and Dream Of Autumn Leaves

Sold by: Sotheby’s, 2017
Realised price: around USD 57.4 million (INR 470.6 crore approx.)

Never has the allure of a pair of mismatched earrings been so incredible. In 2017, Sotheby’s unveiled two of the most exquisite and expensive jewellery pieces sold at an auction in Geneva. The two pear-shaped stones — the Apollo blue diamond and the Artemis pink diamond — were later rechristened The Memory of Autumn Leaves and The Dream of Autumn Leaves.

Although sold separately, they form an opulent set with two rare gems — a 14.54-carat, blue, internally flawless Type II B diamond and a VVS2-clarity, Type II A pink diamond weighing 16 carats. This unique nature of the rocks makes them extremely rare.

The diamonds are converted into a pair of earrings and are offered separately for their extremely rare nature. Despite being sold individually, the same buyer purchased them both. While the blue diamond fetched over USD 42 million (INR 344.3 crore approx.), the pink rock fetched over USD 15 million (INR 122.9 crore approx.).

Miroir de L’amour Earrings by Boehmer et Bassenge Paris

Expensive earrings - Miroir
Image credit: Christie’s

Sold by: Christie’s, 2016
Realised price: over USD 17.6 million (INR 144.3 crore approx.)

‘Miroir de L’amour’ translates into ‘mirror of love’ in English. The unmissable sparkle of these stunning pear-shaped diamond earrings aptly justifies their high regard and value. Each of the dangling diamonds weighs 52.55 and 50.47 carats. They hang from an ethereal pear-shaped marquise-cut diamond cluster head, mounted on gold, measuring 7 cm.

Both colourless diamonds are Type II A and D colour stones with Flawless clarity. A Boehmer et Bassenge Paris sign adds to their value immensely. The classic pair was sold at a Christie’s Geneva auction in November 2016.

In the gemological world, Type IIA diamonds are among the purest varieties found. They don’t have any impurities caused by traces of nitrogen and boron. This implies they are almost devoid of colours and make up for only 1-2 per cent of all naturally curated diamonds.

Bulgari Coloured Ear Pendants

Expensive earrings - Bulgari
Image credit: Christie’s

Sold by: Christie’s, 2014
Realised price: around USD 16 million (INR 131.2 crore approx.)

These earrings might remind you of the Apollo and Artemis diamonds, but they are from the house of Bulgari and have their own splendour. Weighing about 19.28 carats, the head is formed of 14 marquise and pear-shaped colourless diamonds of the most supreme quality. Each ranging between 2.03 and 1.05 carats, they are of D to F colour, Internally Flawless to VS2 clarity stones.

The detachable hanging pendants are two of nature’s most incredible creations. One is a Type IIB fancy vivid blue diamond, weighing approximately 6.95 carats. The other is a stunning Type IIA fancy vivid Type pink diamond of around 6.79 carats. Mounted on platinum and gold, the piece measures 4 cm in length.

Although they are coloured, the diamonds possess high clarity. Coupled with Maison’s esteemed reputation, the pair aptly commands a staggering price tag.

The Oriental Sunrise

Expensive earrings- Oriental Sunrise
Image credit: Christie’s

Sold by: Christie’s, 2016
Realised price: over USD 11.6 million (INR 95.1 crore approx.)

In the domain of high jewellery, yellow diamonds do not compare to colourless ones and even among coloured diamonds, they don’t fetch as much as blue and pink ones. Yet, this scintillating pair thwarts these notions and is one of the most expensive earrings in the world.

Sold at the 2016 Geneva Magnificent Jewels auction, the pair boasts exquisite beauty and a rare degree of clarity. The Oriental Sunrise is composed of a total of six diamonds. While each piece flaunts three diamonds, the one at the bottom is the star of the show. Though not entirely flawless, each of them is a perfect oval-cut rock with a fancy vivid orange-yellow hue. Weighing 12.20 and 11.96 carats, the two are set in gold and linked to a line of two colourless rocks on both pieces.

On one earring, two colourless 3.02 and 3.03-carat diamonds of D colour and VS2 clarity make up the link. On the other hand, the link to the other earring has two diamonds of 0.73 carats. While both are D colour, one has VS2 clarity, and the other has VVS2 clarity.

The diamonds may not be the most fascinating ones in the world, but their dazzling shade, perfect cut and excellent craftsmanship justify their staggering auction value.

Ruby and Diamond Ear Pendants

Expensive earrings - Ruby and diamond
Image credit: Christie’s

Sold by: Christie’s, 2016
Realised price: over USD 11.6 million (INR 95.1 crore approx.)

With a vibrant Burmese red ruby at the centre, these flower-shaped danglers measuring 4.2 cm are one of the most expensive earrings with naturally coloured unheated gemstones. Boasting a pigeon-blood-red colour, the rubies weigh around 10.02 and 9.09 carats and are encased within a circular-cut diamond surround. A similar diamond acts as a spacer with the entire structure mounted in gold and platinum.

The Swiss Gemmological Institute states that the rubies are one of a kind, with no indications of heating. Detailed probing has revealed well-balanced trace particles that impart the flushed pigeon-red hue found in the rubies of Mogok Valley and Mong Hsu mines in Myanmar. Hence, they make the most gorgeous sizeable match, fit for such a dainty ear pendant.

The diamonds simply accentuate the bright red rock and make them an invaluable asset. No wonder they commanded such a high bidding price when it went under the hammer in a 2016 auction in Hong Kong.

Fancy Vivid Blue Diamond Pendant Earrings

Expensive earrings - Fancy blue
Image credit: Sotheby’s

Sold by: Sotheby’s, 2018
Realised price: over USD 10 million (INR 82 crore approx.)

Composed of two rare fancy vivid blue rocks weighing 2.61 and 3.06 carats, respectively, these earrings have more reasons than one for including them in the list of most expensive earrings in the world.

The stunning blue diamonds account for a total of 5.67 carats and have a natural colour with VS2 clarity. They measure 10.16 x 7.01 x 5.15mm and 10.11 x 7.07 x 5.79mm. Each ear pendant also features several other brilliant-cut and baguette diamonds weighing about 3 to 3.30 carats in total and boasting G-H colour and VS clarity. Each piece also comes with impressive post and butterfly fittings.

It was undoubtedly a major highlight of Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Noble auction in Geneva.

A Magnificent Pair of Diamond Ear Pendants

Expensive earrings - Magnificent
Image credit: Christie’s

Sold by: Christie’s, 2014
Realised price: over USD 9.6 million (INR 78.7 crore approx.)

This regal piece is composed of two pear-shaped diamonds weighing 25.49 and 25.31 carats, suspended from two other pear-shaped diamonds of 2.45 and 2.33 carats. The two larger rocks are of supreme Type IIA, D colour, internally flawless quality and boast exquisite symmetry and radiant polish. They are interjected by two brilliant-cut diamonds weighing 0.73 and 0.65 carats, set in 18-carat white gold. This show-stopping pair of earrings clocks in at 5.1 cm in length.

Interestingly, Type IIA diamonds were first noted in the mines of India’s Golconda region but are now spotted across all major diamond-mining belts of the world.

The Imperial Cushions

Expensive earrings - Imperial cushions
Image credit: Christie’s

Sold by: Christie’s, 2011
Realised price: over USD 9.2 million (INR 75.4 crore approx.)

One of the most expensive earrings in the world, the Imperial Cushions pair is a natural marvel that was a star at Christie’s Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels auction.

Two cushion-shaped diamonds, weighing 23.49 and 23.11 carats, make this iconic pair. They are Type IIA and D colour stones with VVS1 to VS1 clarity and are potentially flawless. Additionally, these rocks are connected with bell-shaped links of single-cut diamonds and a stunning baguette-cut collet-set rock forming the head. The glittering pieces are then attached to sculpted platinum mounts, making each earring 5 cm long.

The outstanding degree of colour, size and unique clarity make the bottom cushions specimen of rare calibre. These diamonds, exhibiting antique cutting styles, are given the historic ‘Golconda’ classification, owing to the discovery of such exceptional qualities in the mines of India’s Golconda region.

Christie’s mentions, “When placed table against table in a symmetrically opposed fashion, these two pieces seems to form a nice ‘dipyramidal’ shape, suggesting they might originate from one large single rough crystal.”

The auction house added, “Such a well-matched pair of Golconda Diamonds reaching over 23 carats in size remains an undeniable rarity.”

Sensational Diamond Ear Pendants

Expensive earrings - sensational earrings
Image credit: Christie’s

Sold by: Christie’s, 2014
Realised price: over USD 8.5 million (INR 69.6 crore approx.)

This is another example of ethereal Golconda diamonds. Each earring is composed of a circular-cut diamond (weighing approximately 22.60 and 22.31 carats). Both are D colour Type IIA internally flawless diamonds with excellent cut, symmetry and polish. The Gemological Institute of America states them to be chemically pure and of utmost optical transparency.

Each circular stone is attached to a shield-shaped diamond spacer, which connects the structure with a circular-cut diamond surmount set in platinum.

Not just the diamonds, but the pricey platinum also adds to its value and allure, making the sensational pair a coveted treasure.

Fancy Blue diamond earrings

Expensive earrings - Fancy Blue diamond
Image credit: Christie’s

Sold by: Christie’s, 2021
Realised price: around USD 7.4 million (INR 60.6 crore approx.)

We can never have enough blue diamonds, can we? Among the most expensive earrings in the world, this is another pair of fancy vivid blue diamonds which sold at the auction house’s Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels sale.

Two pear-modified brilliant-cut diamonds (weighing 3.06 and 2.61 carats) hang from a cluster of pear, oval and round rocks. Although the blue danglers may not be the most impressive of their kind and have VS2 clarity, they didn’t fail to impress bidders at the auction. Such is their unique design that the near-perfect blue stones can be removed from the earrings. Hence, the wearer can flaunt the clusters by themselves.

Set in precious platinum and gold, these earrings bear the sign ‘DM’ (David Morris).

Other noted expensive earrings in the world

While these might be the absolute stars, there are several other valuable earrings which deserve worthy mentions.

Queen Marie Antoinette of France was known for her affinity for high jewellery and diamonds. In her lavish collection was a stunning pair of diamond drops gifted by her husband King Louis XVI. Over time, it meandered its way to Empress Eugenie’s chest and later to Russia’s Grand Duchess Tatiana Yousupoff. The earrings, reportedly weighing about 34.6 carats, are displayed at the National Museum of Natural History and are reportedly worth USD 1 million (INR 8.1 crore approx.).

Expensive earrings - Lorraine Schwartz
Image credit: Sotheby’s

In 2009, Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie turned heads at the Oscars when she wore a pair of cushion-cut Colombian emerald earrings by elite jeweller Lorraine Schwartz. The two top pieces, weighing 18.85 and 17.45 carats, are spaced by round diamonds. They suspend the large pear-shaped green stones weighing 51.70 and 46.90 carats. They are mounted by American jewellery brand Verdura and are estimated to cost around USD 500,000 to USD 700,000 (INR 4-5.7 crore approx.).

Hero image: Courtesy Sotheby’s; Feature image: Courtesy Christie’s

This story first appeared on Prestige Malaysia.

Oriental Sunshine to Imperial Cushions: These are the most expensive earrings in history

Trinetra is an ardent foodie and bibliophile who writes about films, travel, food and lifestyle. As a writer and literature student, slam poetry and storytelling are her go to jam. When not working, Trinetra is busy looking for her next place to visit or binge-watching Instagram videos for travel inspiration.

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