Magnificent Jewels from the Estate of Janice H. Levin

As the chairman of Sotheby’s International Jewelry Division in North and South America, Lisa Hubbard deals with only the world’s most incredible gemstones. This year, she passed a record-breaking milestone in her illustrious 30-year career by selling the world’s most expensive blue diamond—a treasured piece from Mrs. Paul Mellon’s collection. Still, reaching the highest price-per-carat ever fetched at auction couldn’t eclipse Hubbard’s other achievements, which include the sale of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Mrs. Harry Winston’s personal estates. Here she shares 10 standout pieces from her bedazzled history.


“With blue diamonds you usually refer to their colors by referring to the sky. The changing colors of this one reminded me of a turbulent ocean. You could look at it forever. It is truly the ultimate of blue diamonds.”

The Zoe Diamond from the Estate of Mrs. Paul Mellon sale in November 2014.


“So little 18th Century jewelry comes up for sale that it is a rarity to come across a piece like this. These flowers were beyond description, but the truly charming part was imagining what an entire dress covered in these diamonds might look like. Talk about a fantasy world.”

Highly important collection of diamond dress ornaments from the Russian Imperial Court, second half 18th century from the Estate of Irma Alder sale in April 1998. Sold: $211,500


“The Flamingo was earthshattering in terms of its design; it was oversized, three-dimensional… It was the brooch that changed the course of jewelry design.”

Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, Citrine and Diamond Flamingo Clip, Cartier, Paris, 1940 from The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor sale in April 1987. Sold: $806,667


“The thing about this tiara that impressed me was that it was incredibly comfortable¬. There was something about the way it was sloped. When I tried it on, I remember thinking it fits so beautifully and that it was very noble in its spirit.”

The Empress Eugenie Tiara, Gabriel Lemonnier, 1853 from The Princely Collections of Thurn und Taxis, November 1992. Sold: $649,305


“The name alone is so old America and the fact that it was the engagement ring that Vincent Astor gave it made it all the more romantic. It was a very compelling love token.”

Platinum, Emerald and Diamond Ring from the Estate of Brook Astor sale in September 2012. Sold: $1,202,500


“He was the King of Diamonds, so we all wondered what his wife’s collection would contain. It didn’t disappoint. These were the most glamorous pair of earrings I had ever seen.”

Magnificent Pair of Diamond Chandelier Pendant-Earclips, Harry Winston, 1961 from The Collection of the Late Mrs. Harry Winston sale in October 1992. Sold: $1,430,000


“These cuffs were so contemporary. I remember thinking they looked like they were created for Wonder Woman. They like her felt so incredibly full of life.”

Pair of Twenty-Two Karat Gold Cuff Bangle-Bracelets, Greece from The Estate of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis sale in April 1996. Sold: $51,750


“Staring at these old cut diamonds—I had to wonder were they had been. I’ve never seen another pair like them. They reminded of two enormous drops of ice water.”

Superb Pair of Rare Diamond Pendants, Van Cleef & Arpels, Circa 1968 from the Estate of Janice H. Levin sale in April 2002. Sold: $1,659,500


“I called this one diamonds on a vine. There was something very organic and chic about it. It was aligned with her entire collection, which was characterized by style instead of the size of the stones—there was an artistry to it.”

Highly important eighteen-karat gold and diamond necklace, mounted by Schlumberger, France from the Estate of Betsey Cushing Whitney sale in October 1998. Sold: $530,500


“With colored diamonds at the end of the day it’s all about the color. And this one was a wonderful rosy pink. A perfect symbol of what Mr. Lauder was trying to accomplish for Breast Cancer Research Foundation with this sale.”

Fancy Intense Pink Diamond and Diamond Ring, Oscar Heyman & Brothers from the Collection of Evelyn H. Lauder sale in December 2012. Sold: $8,594,500