By  on April 23, 2007

After 30 years at Sotheby's, Lisa Hubbard has come to a personal epiphany: "My taste surpasses my buying power."

The chairman of Sotheby's jewelry department is well known in the auction and jewelry worlds, having started as a cataloguer in the jewelry department and later becoming an auctioneer. Hubbard presided over the auctions of the property of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and Ava Gardner, to name a few. A native of Los Angeles who resides in New York, she was also the architect of the first specialized sale of fine jadeite jewels in Hong Kong in November 1985.

Tuesday's Magnificent Jewels sale has special meaning to Hubbard, as she celebrates three decades at the auction house. The sale will feature the separate private collections from the property of the Herbert and Nell Singer Foundation, and property from the Erich and Della Koenig Foundation, to be sold to benefit the charity.

Notable pieces include a 16.98-carat diamond ring estimated to fetch up to $1 million and a 18.54-carat emerald ring with diamonds, expected to bring in up to $900,000. Both are by Van Cleef & Arpels from the Sixties and Seventies. There is also an important diamond necklace by Parisian designer Alexandre Reza comprising a flexible collar of baguette diamonds with a nearly 50-carat pear-shape diamond pendant, which is being sold from an anonymous source.

"Jewelry is a great introduction to the auction world," said Hubbard, whose personal favorites include Harry Winston, Bulgari, Van Cleef and pieces by 19th-century jewelers Castellani and Giuliano. "You don't have to know anything going in. You find the things you're most interested in. Jewelry is the most personal of the decorative arts."

Hubbard is constantly on the hunt for new and outstanding pieces and collections. A major coup for her was a rare jade collar.

"I chased that necklace for 13 years. It took great perseverance to get it to auction," she said. "It was a labor of love, but it's one of those pieces you never forget."

The necklace eventually sold for $1 million, a record for jade jewelry.

Over the years, Hubbard has noticed a shift in who's buying what."Asians in the last 20 years have become a huge group," she said, adding that serious bidders also are popping up in Russia, Dubai and Brazil. "I love the fact that at an auction, under one roof you have all the makers, all the stones, everything together, so you could compare. It's an instant education."

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