Some segments of the auction scene have collapsed in the past decade, but sales of fine jewellery are thriving.
Sotheby’s Australia held four stand-alone auctions of what they called important jewels in 2012, with a combined sale total of $4,707,852. (All figures include buyer’s premium.)
The best single result for the year was for a diamond ring sold for $222,000 in September.
At the most recent sale, in Sydney on December 4, Sotheby’s achieved results of $1,454,460. This was three-quarters of the volume and value sought. A highlight was a pair of diamond earrings, sold for $168,000.
”We continue to see strong demand for quality gemstones and designer jewels,” says the chairman of Sotheby’s Australia, Geoffrey Smith, who introduced specialist sales of jewellery a few years ago. Previously this market existed mainly as a subsection of decorative arts.
While Smith thinks there could be an investment factor driving the boom, he says emotions are the main reason.
”Jewels are so personal,” he says, noting that most of the items sold are destined to be worn, not stored in a safe.
”If people see an opportunity to purchase a quality piece, they will – but you must always add the emotional component.”
Sotheby’s plans to stage three specialist auctions this year, plus a private sale and exhibition next month (details are below).
Demand is now greater than the supply of high-quality product.
”Jewels are an international currency,” Smith says. ”When we consign – especially diamonds – we have interest from trade and collectors around the world. These days, it’s a global market, especially for the known brands.”
Traditional brands – such as Harry Winston, Bulgari, Cartier, Tiffany & Co, Van Cleef & Arpels – are making a comeback on the secondary market because of the quality of the materials.
But there are some new players. In December, a significant collection of contemporary pearl jewellery by Australian company Paspaley performed well through Sotheby’s, with all items sold after some competitive bidding.
A highlight was the South Sea pearl, opal and diamond necklace that sold for $42,000, well above estimates of $10,000 to $15,000.
While classic jewellery from the 1950s and ’60s always does well, so does 1980s Bulgari. Anything featuring pink and yellow diamonds is desirable.
Leonard Joel also holds stand-alone jewellery auctions, with an emphasis on affordable or entry-level items, priced from $1000 to $5000. These sales have attracted a new generation of buyers in their 30s looking for something funky and exotic – such as black diamonds.
Leonard Joel specialist John D’Agata had a range of these for sale at his June 2012 auction in Melbourne. He says the popularity of this colour of diamond is based on the television and film series Sex and the City, in which the lead character, Carrie Bradshaw (played by Sarah Jessica Parker), is given a black diamond engagement ring by ”Mr Big”, making them a cult fashion statement.
Smith has also noticed a younger demographic turning up at his auctions, including grandchildren brought in by their grandparents to look around on viewing days, or young couples choosing auctions to pick up a distinctive engagement ring.
Sotheby’s encourages clients to try on jewellery before they make bids. This is all part of the important emotional response.
Men are also involved in the jewellery scene. Watches and cuff links are usually included at these auctions.
To start the year, Sotheby’s Australia is staging the Age of Elegance exhibition and private sale from Thursday, February 14 to Sunday, February 17 (Melbourne) and Thursday, February 21 to Sunday, February 24 (Sydney).
This is the first private sale of jewels – not an auction – staged by the company. As well as items for sale, there will be a display of historic pieces from a private collection, including Madonna’s wedding tiara and Clark Gable’s cigarette lighter.
See sothebysaustralia杭州夜网m.au for further details.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.