With author Barbara Taylor Bradford’s £1.5 million collection of jewellery being sold at auction at Bonhams in London later this week, many people may be considering purchasing jewellery at auction as a Christmas gift. But if you’re new to the world of jewellery auctions, what do you need to know?
Go Art Deco
Auctions can be great places to pick up Art Deco pieces (1920-1935). These typically incorporate platinum and diamonds and feature bold, linear designs that hold contemporary appeal – look out for Arpels, Van Cleef or Cartier signed pieces.
Choose artistic designs
Artist-made jewellery from the 60s is another popular auction purchase – names such as Stuart Devlin, Andrew Grima and John Donald should be on your wishlist.
Look for style and character
It’s important to choose pieces which have their own individual style and character. Edwardian jewellery and Belle Epoque pieces will hold their value, and Georgian jewellery is also worth looking at – it can often be good value for money, as you’ll find fewer people chasing these pieces.
Keep it natural
Pearls are back in fashion, and over the last decade the value of a string of matching natural pearls has doubled, so it’s well worth investing in a beautiful pearl necklace or bracelet at auction.
Get pieces you love
Whilst Victorian jewellery can be grand and ostentatious, its gothic feel and dated appearance is often hard to wear with today’s fashions, making it less valuable. Choose pieces you love to wear which match your current style.
Christie’s London Important Jewels auction on November 27th was the place to see and be seen this month – and of course it was their last sale before Christmas. For the opportunity to pick up some of the finest pieces for the festive season, this sale was hard to beat, and there were some truly stunning works of art from which to choose.
With 33 lots on offer from Cartier including an art-deco clip embellished with aquamarine and diamonds (Queen Elizabeth II is said to own a similar one) and some stunning Cartier wristwatches, most people who attended were hard-pushed to walk away empty handed.
For brides-to-be, there were plenty of tiaras on offer – eight to be exact, with one lot, a 19th century diamond tiara, going for a mere £15-£20k. Perfect for those looking for something really special for their big day!
Other auction highlights included 6 pieces by Rene Lalique, including a decadent Burmese Sapphire pendant. Van Cleef & Arpels jewellery was also popular, with their art-deco 1940s diamond and moonstone sapphire ring sure to make someone very happy when they find it under the tree on Christmas morning!
Of course, if you missed the auction, there’s still plenty of time to pick up some stunning jewellery for the one you love this Christmas at one of the many boutiques in Hatton Garden, whether you’re looking for some elegant Cartier diamond earrings or a stylish, contemporary necklace.
A number of jewellery designers have added their own personal flair to some decorative jewellery boxes to raise money for a local Hatton Garden jewellery school.
Big names including Annoushka, Monica Vinader, Paul Smith, and Elizabeth Gage have customised the boxes to be sold as part of a special eBay auction, with the proceeds being donated to Holts Academy of Jewellery, a centre in Hatton Garden which trains jewellery apprentices, as well as The Prince’s Foundation for Children and the Arts.
The project, known as Coutts Beautiful Boxes, was announced on February 18th by private wealth management service Coutts as a fundraising initiative for these creative programmes. Michael Morley, chief executive of Coutts & Co, explained: “Coutts has a long history of championing the creative industries … this campaign was launched as a fundraising project that would champion the best of British design excellence today, whilst harnessing the artistic talent of future generations.
Lee Lucas, director of Holts Academy, also commented on the opportunity: “The Coutts Beautiful Boxes project is the perfect collaboration for us. It both inspires our apprentices and students to reach new heights in their design skills, as well as celebrate the best of ‘Made in Britain’. The jewellery boxes I have seen so far are beautiful, capture one’s imagination and most importantly of all are bringing together the greatest designers with the future blood of the jewellery industry.”
The boxes will go on sale for 10 day, from March 14th onwards. Search for “Coutts Beautiful Boxes” on eBay to bag your favourite design.
Attending a jewellery auction can be an exciting day out, and result in some amazing vintage finds that you can wear and admire for years to come. If you’re thinking about taking a trip to a jewellery auction, here are some things to consider:
• What’s your budget?
Bidding can be contagious, and an item that was originally billed at £100 can quickly escalate to £1000 if the right buyers are present. If you’ve got your eye on a particular piece, work out how much you can afford to spend, and stick to it. People who go over budget in the heat of the moment usually regret it.
• What are you looking for?
Keep an open mind when it comes to jewellery auctions. Each piece is unique, and does not come from a range of variable stock, so don’t set your decision in stone. For instance, if you’re looking for a necklace to set off a particular outfit, you may not be able to find one in your desired colour – but there may be a beautiful antique broach instead.
• Who else is bidding?
Knowledgeable buyers and collectors often attend jewellery auctions in search of a bargain. If they’re bidding on your chosen item, it’s probably because they recognize that it’s a particularly special piece – so find out the value of the item and adjust your bid accordingly!