Tzoffey’s conducts the largest auction in Israel’s history



While many visitors came from far and wide to attend the 32nd World Diamond Congress (WDC) held June 26 to 29 in Tel Aviv, several hundreds came specifically to attend the largest-ever diamond, precious stones and jewelry auction held in Israel thanks to Israel’s esteemed auctioneer, Avner Sofion, To organize such an event is no mean task and takes around six months of planning, marketing and effort. Only an expert in this field could accomplish such an undertaking and do so with aplomb. The organizers of the WDC called on Sofiov, Troffey’s president and owner, who is a gemstone and diamond marketer. The event, which featured over 400 items with an estimated total value of $50 million, was held June 28, 2006, and attracted several hundred buyers and a number who bid by telephone, such as those from Arab countries who could not attend in person. Man of the bidders had been afforded the opportunity to preview the very rare pieces on offer at this years’ Basel World 2006 Warch and Jewellery show in early April. Another preview was held just prior to the World Diamond Congress in Tel Aviv in late Junc at the Harry Oppenheimer Diamond Muscum at the Israel Diamond Exchange. The museum is a tribute to the history and achievements of Israel’s diamond industry and the auction is now certainly a pare of boch.


A treat to the eye: a unique Cartier Bracelet with nine marquise diamonds and nine cushion-shaped, Kashmir sapphires

But this far from Sofiov’s first auction. Tzoffey’s 1818 is a privately owned auction house specializing in diamonds, precious stones and rare jewelry, holding auctions world-wide.

This 15.76 carats Burmese ruby, which amazingly has no indications of heat-treatment, was one of many unique items auctioned.

Sofiov opened his first business in Paris in 1978 after attending many general auctions. Then, he would purchase old jewelry with large diamonds, remove them and re-polish them in order to upgrade and improve either their color or clarity. To date, Tzoffey’s has organized 18 significant and successful auctions in Paris, Tel Aviv, Basel, Hong-Kong, the United States and Columbia. The company’s next diamond, precious stones, and jewelry auction will be held in Dubai during the 2007 ICA Congress, April 28-May 2. In the past, Tzoffey’s has been officially appointed to organize and execute other major auctions. It organized the International Emerald Auctions on behalf of the Columbian government at the World Emerald Congress and the company was officially appointed to organize and execute other major auctions. It organized the international emerald auctions on behalf of the Columbian government at the world emerald congress and the company was officially appointed to organize auctions for the Israel diamond exchange’s 50th anniversary activities.

It was also officially requested to organize the auction for the Israel diamond industry open week held in cooperation with DeBeers in September 1999, and for the Israel Diamond Institute in Seattle and Boston in October 1999. In the precious stones and emerald industry, Tzoffey’s has created a new marketing concept, which includes the organization, sorting and pricing of goods on behalf of mines. Sofiov explains that inly this approach enables the precious stone and emerald trader to view the entire production of the mine. The company has organized and executed seven direct international auctions of Columbian emeralds.

Sofiov says that he and World Diamond Congress organizing committee were very satisfied of the outcome of the recent auction particularly because it attracted so many buyers from abroad. It was exciting, too, because of the rarity of the items.
The most expensive item on offer was an extremely important and rare platinum and diamond brooch set with natural fancy colored and white diamonds, weighing approximately 41.84 carats in total and valued at several million dollars. According to Sofiov, “the definition ‘extremely rare’ does not adequately justify the importance of the diamond in the brooch.” The item is signed by the renowned jeweler Alexander Reza, whose new global business began and remains in Place Vendome, Paris.

The first of two of the rarest items on auction was a platinum bracelet set with nine marquise diamonds and nine matching cushion-shaped, fine quality Kashmir sapphire signed by Cartier.
The other rare item was a pair of natural pearl and diamond drop ear pendants, one grey and one white, weighing approximately 44 carats with

marquise-shaped and brilliant cut diamonds mounted in platinum and gold. “The rarity and importance of the pearls lies in their size and the length of time it takes to match two of the same size and shape” Sofiov explained.

Another favorite for pearl lovers was a beautiful, antique pendant designed as a cluster of grapes mounted with pearls and old-cut diamonds valued at 900-1800$. Another stunner was an extremely rare, unmounted, pearl-shaped, natural vivid orange (VSII) diamond weighing 5.01 carats. According to Sofiov orange diamonds are, for example, yellowish-orange or pinkish-orange; three are no pure orange stones on the market.

The auction featured many exquisite un-set fancy colored and white diamonds and gem stones. An example was a collection of six matching pear-shaped diamonds weighing approximately 22.98 carats in total with an estimated value of 600,000-750,000$. Also featured was an important unmounted 13.16 carat, D, VVSII emerald-cut diamond.\

Another impressive item was an unmounted natural fancy orange-brown pear shaped- diamond weighing 40.28 carat estimated at 490,000-580,000$ unmounted heart-shaped Burmese ruby weighing 15.76 carats, with no indication of heat-treatment, and valued at 55,000-120,004 was one of many unique gemstones up for grabs.

There were also some unusual antiques and art deco jewelry items such as an art-deco step-cut aquamarine and brilliant-and-baguette-cut diamond brooch mounted it white gold, valued at between 8,000-15,000$. For antique lovers there were a few antique item such as a gold-plated box containing a table clock, calendar and barometer valued at between 10,000-15,000$. The lid features an enameled painting of an oriental garden motif.

Another interesting item was a prestigious Faberge picture frame of Tsar Nicholai II, in nephrite and pink guilloché enamel, inlayed with two-colored yellow gold floral swags, and ivory backing. A crown sitting above the head of the Tsar is set with rose-cut diamonds, indicating that the frame was adorned the Royal Palace. Also featured was a beautiful Imperial Faberge gold box set with cabochon ruby and rose-cut diamonds. The lid is encrusted with the initials of Tsar Alexander III. It would be unfair not to mention an exquisite Swiss open-faced, 14K gold lady’s antique pocket watch, which features a well-preserved enamel miniature painting on the back and valued at 900-1,500$.

Sofiov sourced the gems from all over the world from private collectors’ industry professionals. Asked why provate collectors sell their jewels, Sofiov explains that either they need the money or want to upgrade their collection. For example, they may sell a fancy yellow diamond in order to purchase a vivid yellow one.

Sofiov will not reveal pricing details. The reason, he says is to protect customers, since it was an auction for the trade only as opposed to a public auction. “The customers that bought have to sell the items. If we reveal how much they bought a piece for, they may not obtain their asking price for tit on the market,” he explains.

It is no secret. However, that times are tough in the diamond business, but Sofiov says an auction is not is not a gauge of whether the market is up or down. At an auction, he says, “there is a large variety of rare items with no connection to goods available on the market. It’s not like you are dealing with returning clients on a daily basis. You can have a good or bad auction depending on the goods and buyers attending from buying like mad, but they will still buy because they are looking for rare items. It’s another ballgame!”

Sofiov is also involved in the managerial side of the business. He has served as the President of the Israel Precious Stones and Diamonds Exchange. He is a board member of ICA (International Colored Gemstones Association) and today he is the chairman of its Ethics and Arbitration Committee.

Not one to rest on his laurels and the WDC auction having been rated such a huge success, Sofiov has put forward a proposal to the leaders of Israel’s diamond bourse that will hopefully attract much needed buyers to Israel on a more regular basis. “The idea is to create an annual International Diamond and Jewelry Week in Israel,” he explains. “This will be a major event to attract overseas buyers. It should include a a diamond show, because what better diamond center to hold such an event then Israel?”

According to his proposal, there will also be diamond seminars and a diamond auction to give buyers even more incentive to attend. “The aim is develop the entire industry in Israel. It’s about time we had such an initiative” he adds.

The responses to the proposal have been enthusiastic and Sofiov hopes that all forces can be unified to pull it off. Of course, as Israel’s auctioneer extraordinaire, Sofiov will organize the auction.

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