Behind the Gavel: Get to Know Leslie Roskind

The senior specialist for jewelry and watches at Hindman’s newly opened New York branch chats about her professional journey, the market, and the Elizabeth Taylor collection.

July 30, 2023  |  Sonia Esther Soltani
Leslie Roskind Mag July August 1280 USED 073023

Can you describe your current role at Hindman?

While Hindman has been doing business in New York for quite some time now, I’m very excited to be among the first specialists based there since we established a presence in the New York market last fall. As a senior specialist, I’ll be working on bringing in collections for sale from New York and the east coast region, and collaborating with Hindman’s jewelry team in our Chicago headquarters and our Palm Beach, Denver and California locations (four out of 16 locations across the country).

In addition, I’ll work closely with my New York colleagues on one-to-one client outreach, strategic partnerships, programming, and events. I’ve had the privilege in my career of working with some of the most important jewelry collectors and [members of] the trade in the Americas (New York and Los Angeles) and in Hong Kong, and I’m excited to offer these existing and new clients the bespoke marketing and high-touch client service for which Hindman is known.

How did you start your career as a specialist?

After graduating as a graduate gemologist at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), I was eager to dive into the jewelry world, and my first job was selling wedding bands in one of the exchanges on 47th Street.

From there, I was given a great opportunity to join Christie’s as a viewing assistant and then intern. I literally started on the bottom rung. I absolutely fell in love with the auction world and the jewelry industry and dedicated myself to learning, reading, and staying engaged with the market and clients.

I was fortunate to grow my career at Christie’s, and in the 17 years I was there, I worked in New York, Geneva and Los Angeles. After those incredible experiences, I wanted to spread my wings a bit and landed positions in the wholesale and retail sides of the business, including the prestigious Fred Leighton.

I’m delighted that I have made my way back to my natural habitat — the world of auctions — and after a stint in Hong Kong, I am thrilled to join the Hindman team. 

What was the first piece of jewelry you brought to auction?

It wasn’t my first consignment, but early in my career as a specialist, I was absolutely thrilled that a private collector entrusted me with the sale of two of her important diamond rings, both by David Webb — a 22.46-carat, E-color VS2, and a 39.83-carat fancy-vivid yellow. Both were illustrated on the catalogue cover.

A padparadscha sapphire, pink-diamond and diamond ring that sold at Hindman. (Hindman)

What has been the most exciting collection to handle?

Throughout my career, I’ve had the privilege of bringing to market collections from some truly iconic names. During my time at Christie’s, the most exciting sale was being part of the collection of Elizabeth Taylor [in 2011]. It was truly special. I traveled with the jewels to Los Angeles and Hong Kong and finally on to New York, where they sold over the course of several days. The crowds during the exhibitions and the adoration shown for Ms. Taylor were tremendous, and the record-breaking results illustrated the importance of the provenance and the remarkable jewels themselves.

Not that one should pick favorites, [but] my top two were the Edith Head necklace composed of 18th- and 19th-century ivory opera tokens, and the Bulgari sapphire and diamond sautoir gifted to her by [husband] Richard Burton for her 40th birthday; [it] was set with a stunning 52.72-carat, unheated Burmese cabochon sapphire.

How has the auction market changed in the past three decades?

Three decades is quite a bit of time! First and foremost, the internet and social media. It has completely changed our ability to reach clients globally, market our sales, educate collectors [and] offer online auctions, and the ability for clients to watch live auctions and bid online or via smart phone from anywhere in the world.

The importance of gemological reports for colored stones, noting both origin and treatment/enhancement, has absolutely changed not just the auction market, but the retail and resale markets as well. For collectors, it gives consumer confidence, and for appraisers and auction house specialists, it helps determine the value.

Lastly, I would say the growth of the colored-diamond market. When I first started, colored diamonds offered at auction were few and far between. The demand for high-quality stones has grown exponentially.

Harry Winston diamond ring that sold at Hindman. (Hindman)

What’s the most fulfilling part of your job?

Meeting clients and hearing the stories behind the jewels. It’s nice to listen to clients reminisce about their grandmother wearing a brooch, or the story behind receiving a gift to mark a milestone. It is a privilege to be entrusted with finding the jewelry a new home.

Is there a piece of jewelry you wish you could have bought?

I was obsessed with the loveliest Art Deco black lacquer band with scrolling plaques set with diamonds, signed Cartier, London. There was something just chic and classic about it. I was outbid, but it did find a good home!

What advice would you give to an aspiring specialist?

Read all the books you can, be curious, listen and observe, embrace learning the basics (I still enjoy calculating the weights of a diamond rivière) and attend auction previews, which are great places to view and handle the jewels.

This article is from the July-August 2023 issue of Rapaport Magazine. View other articles here.

Main image: Leslie Roskind. (Hindman)


Leslie Roskind Mag July August 1280 USED 073023 Behind the Gavel: Get to Know Leslie Roskind

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