The Magnificent Wakil Emerald Emerges for Auction

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A dazzling highlight of the forthcoming virtual Smith & Singer auction of Important Jewels, Watches & Objects of Virtu will be The Wakil Emerald, an exceptional platinum, gold, emerald and diamond ring by Van Cleef & Arpels, circa 1974, from the collection of Isaac Wakil AO and the late Susan Wakil AO.  Offered with an estimate of AUD$200,000–250,000 (US$129,580-161,975), the centrally-mounted, claw-set, pear-shaped emerald weighing 20.246 carats is of Columbian origin, and is one of the most significant jewels of its kind ever offered at auction in Australia.

Lot 50: The Wakil Emerald Platinum, gold, emerald and diamond ring, Van Cleef & Arpels, circa 1974.
Smith & Singer
Lot 50: The Wakil Emerald Platinum, gold, emerald and diamond ring, Van Cleef & Arpels, circa 1974.
Smith & Singer


Isaac and Susan Wakil migrated to Australia in the 1940s with precious few resources, other than a great deal of entrepreneurial intuition.  After marrying in 1953, they built a clothing company and used its remarkable success to lay the foundations of a property empire spanning Sydney, for which they are best known.

Not satisfied by their business success alone, Susan and Isaac Wakil ultimately became two of Sydney’s greatest philanthropic benefactors.  Their sponsorship of the arts, which commenced in the 1960s, has contributed significantly to the growth of Australian culture during this crucial period.  Indeed, in recent years their $24 million gift to the Art Gallery of New South Wales planned Sydney Modern wing was the largest cash donation in the history of the esteemed institution.  Along with visual arts, the Wakils have been longstanding sponsors of Opera Australia – today, this generosity enables first-time opera-goers to see performances with accessible $20 tickets at the Sydney Opera House and the Arts Centre Melbourne.  The Wakils were also major benefactors of the Sydney Jewish Museum, supporting the Fund for Jewish Higher Education.

Among their greatest philanthropic acts has been the Wakils’ support of the University of Sydney.  In 2015, the Wakils gave the University foundation $10.8 million to provide 12 perpetual nursing scholarships a year, half of them to support regional, rural or Aboriginal or Torres Straight Islanders.  A few months later this was complemented by an endowment of $35 million to build the Susan Wakil Health Building near Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

In May 2018, Susan Wakil AO sadly passed away, leaving behind Isaac, her husband of 62 years.  In her memory Mr Wakil commissioned Chinese-Australian artist Shen Jiawei to paint a portrait of Susan, in which she wore a gown of one of her favoured designers, Yves St Laurent.  The portrait was donated to the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra.


The Important Jewels, Watches & Objects of Virtu auction will accept bidding via telephone, absentee and online, and will be the first of its kind conducted at Smith & Singer.  For over five years, Smith & Singer has been the only leading auction house in Australia to offer its clients online bidding via two selling platforms, Bid-Live and Invaluable.  Furthermore, Smith & Singer’s customised Bid-Live platform allows our clients to bid on the sale with no additional sur-charge, a market feature unique to the company. 

Lot 50: The Wakil Emerald

Platinum, gold, emerald and diamond ring, Van Cleef & Arpels, circa 1974. Of cluster design, centring a claw-set pear-shaped modified brilliant and step-cut emerald weighing 20.246 carats, framed by a border of brilliant-cut diamonds to shoulders partially pavé-set with brilliant-cut diamonds, the diamonds together weighing approximately 3.50 carats, size F, signed Van Cleef & Arpels, numbered 24433.

Estimate $200,000–250,000

Important Jewels, Watches & Objects of Virtu
Estimate: $915,300–1,236,700, 113 lots

Virtual Auction, 6.30 pm on 27 May 2020

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