High society Australian jeweller auctions rare items

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 1st December, 2017

High society jeweller Raymond Schlager is an icon among Melbourne’s wealthy families and has an international client base that many of his profession could not help but envy – including sheiks, top tennis players and music stars such as Jon Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen and Elton John, who was a client for 16 years in the 1980s and 1990s.

The son of a poor Toorak shoemaker, at age 14 Mr Schlager left school to train with Bourke Street jewellery and art restorer Phillip Hawe.

When, in 1959, fellow jewellers Kozminsky contracted him to repair an exquisite jewellery box made of lapis lazuli and coloured diamonds, it ignited a lifelong passion – particularly when he watched as Kozminaky staff sold the item to Hollywood star Gregory Peck, in Melbourne for the shooting of the movie On the Beach.

Mr Schlager worked for, then in the 1970s, co-owned Kozminsky before opening and running his own store in the Royal Arcade for 20 years.

The shop closed in 2004 and since then Mr Schlager has continued his business from a studio above the Block Arcade.

Now, after 68 years in the trade, Mr Schlager is retiring and has asked Leonard Joel to auction his stock and other items – from 6.30pm Monday December 4 at 333 Malvern Road, South Yarra.

The major highlight is an 1850s diamond set enamel and gold Russian Imperial presentation box with the monogram of Tsar Alexander II (1855-1881) with a catalogue estimate of $120,000-$180,000.

Apparently, the box was originally gifted from the tsar to court physician Dr Sergei Botkin in St Petersburg.

According to historians of the period, this was normal practice for royalty who, instead of paying for services rendered, would present valuable gifts or bestow titles of nobility.

The box later passed to Dr Botkin’s son, Dr Eugene Botkin, who was assassinated on July 17, 1918 – along with the Romanov family and their servants.

However, before this Dr Botkin held a fundraising dinner party and the box was part of an exclusive tombola to raise funds for a new children’s hospital in Malmo, Sweden.

It was won by self-made Swedish industrialist Edward Engstrom (1821-1899), who purchased a ticket for 8000 Swedish crowns, and the resulting children’s hospital still stands today.

Mr Schlager purchased the box about 2006 from a descendant of the Engstrom family.

Other auction highlights include a brilliant Van Cleef & Arpels cut diamond bracelet estimated at $80,000-$120,000 and a three-stone diamond ring ($90,000-$150,000).



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