Collectors’ corner: Sotheby’s Diamonds Tree Brooches

Brim full of life, rich in sumptuous texture and with the visceral character of exquisitely crafted cartoons, we can’t help but love Sotheby’s Diamonds ‘Tree’ brooches. Each delightfully abstract form is inspired by everything from Old Master paintings to mid-century sculpture. Trunks are expertly honed from a trove of unexpected materials, such as jadeite, coral and Maw sit sit, while branches and buds pop with rare diamonds, tourmalines and sapphires. This week, Sotheby’s Hong Kong is celebrating a decade of these special designs in a retrospective exhibition, with some new pieces also featured. We preview some of the natural, shimmering wonders on show:

BR2007 Bonsai Brooch and BR2006 Diamond Tree Brooch

(Image credit: Press)

The ‘Tree’ motif has been interpreted over ten years by craftsmen and designers, who have drawn inspiration from centuries of art movements.
Left, Bonsai Brooch (BR2007), in palisander wood and Bakelite, set with seven pear-shape diamonds totalling 7.06-ct. Mounted in platinum and 18-ct rose gold. Right, Diamond Tree Brooch (R2006), set with eight pear-shape diamonds totalling 8.10-ct. Mounted in platinum, 18-ct rose gold and ceramic

BR2020 Spring Tree Brooch and BR2022 Padparadscha Branch Brooch

(Image credit: Press)

'Our design studio’s constant reinvention of the Tree brooch form caught the imagination of collectors from the start', says Patti Wong, founder and chairman of Sotheby’s Diamonds. 'In the ten years since the collection’s inception, it has turned into our best-loved design.'
Left, Spring Tree Brooch (BR2020), in yellow jadeite, set with five pear-shape diamonds totalling 5.10-ct and purple sapphires. Mounted in 18-ct white gold and 18-ct yellow gold. Right, Padparadscha Branch Brooch (BR2022), in hand carved Whitby jet, set with sapphires and four pear-shape diamonds totalling 4.62-ct. Mounted in in 18-ct rose gold and platinum

BR2014 Lavender Jadeite Tree Brooch and BR2009 Winter Tree Brooch

(Image credit: Press)

The Tree Brooch motif is grounded in the exploration of classical art and landscape depictions. The Sotheby’s Diamonds Tree brooches reflect these elememts using rare diamonds with unexpected gemstones and texture-rich materials.
Left, Lavender Jadeite Tree Brooch (BR2014), in lavender jadeite, set with turquoise and five pear-shape diamonds totalling 5.13-ct. Mounted in platinum. Right, Winter Tree Brooch (BR2009), set with five pear-shape diamonds totalling 5.14-ct and pavé diamonds totalling 0.23-ct. Mounted in platinum and steel

BR2008 Diamond Summer Tree Brooch and BR2002 Tree Brooch

(Image credit: Press)

The key inspiration is the notion of ‘the Tree of Life’ – an ancient and universal symbol of creation, knowledge and immortality. The diamonds are the heart of the Tree brooch composition, as the ‘soul’ of the jewel. 
Left, Diamond Summer Tree Brooch (BR2008), set with nine cape-coloured, pear-shape diamonds totalling 10.09-ct and pavé tsavorites totalling 1.08-ct. Mounted in 22-ct yellow gold and platinum. Right, Tree Brooch (BR2002), set with ten pear-shape diamonds totalling 5.13-ct. Mounted in platinum and steel

BR2015 Summer Tree Brooch and BR2012 Summer Tree Brooch

(Image credit: Press)

The ‘Tree’ motif has been interpreted over ten years by craftsmen and designers, who have drawn inspiration from centuries of art movements. 'There’s something visceral and poetic in the Sotheby’s Diamonds Tree brooch', says Wong.
Left, Summer Tree Brooch (BR2015), in white opal, set with five pear-shape flawless diamonds totalling 5.27-ct and pink sapphire fruit totalling 3.63-ct. Mounted in 18-ct rose gold and 18-ct white gold. Right, Summer Tree Brooch (BR2012), in maw-sit-sit, set with five pear-shape diamond buds totalling 5.10-ct and pink opal. Set in 18-ct rose gold and 18-ct white gold. 'A Jewelled Garden of Eden' exhibition is on view at Sotheby’s Hong Kong from 12 September - 19 September. For more information, visit the website

Caragh McKay has been a contributing editor at Wallpaper* since 2014. She was previously watches & jewellery director and is currently our resident lifestyle & shopping editor. Caragh has produced exhibitions and created and edited titles for publishers including the Daily Telegraph. She regularly chairs talks for luxury houses, Van Cleef & Arpels and Cartier among them. Caragh’s current remit is cross-cultural and her recent stories include the curious tale of how Muhammad Ali met his poetic match in Robert Burns and how a Martin Scorsese film revived a forgotten Osage art.