Our first auction when we could return after the lockdown was the Affordable Jewellery & Watches sale which was originally scheduled for April. Thankfully, it proved to be a very successful auction and a great welcome back to (near) normality. Our Jewellery specialist Hannah McWhirter (FGA DGA), who is a member of the Institute of Registered Valuers and has been working in the jewellery sector for over 20 years, tells us about what’s in demand at the moment and some of the history to our most popular recent auction pieces.
“I think that our Fine and Affordable Jewellery auctions are very popular largely due to the increasing demand for antique and period pieces. Ornately carved hand-made mounts offer the potential buyer a more unique and personal piece of jewellery, which wouldn’t necessarily be available from a high street retailer.
Similarly, diamonds are highly valued, not only for their rarity and durability amongst gemstones, but because Old European and mine-cut diamonds are increasingly in demand owing to their age and unique style. With the increase in synthetic diamonds coming on the market, potential buyers are seeking to buy old authentic pieces of jewellery with some history behind them.
However, it’s not only the diamond pieces – the internet has offered consumers an insight into a wide range of more unusual stones. A good example of this is a pink sapphire and diamond ring which we sold for £2,600 at our most recent Affordable Jewellery auction. Sapphire is a member of the corundum family of minerals and occurs in a wide range of colours, including a pinkish-orange variety called Padparadscha from the Sinhalese word meaning ‘lotus blossom’.
Jewellery comprising foil-backed stones can also command high hammer prices. Foil backing was a popular 18th century method of not only enhancing or altering a gemstones colour, but also achieving a uniform colour in a necklace or bracelet.
Elsewhere, enamelled jewellery can also be highly collectable, particularly pieces from the likes of Norwegian jewellery David Anderson for example, or this enamelled lily pendant which sold for £500.
In recent years, we have seen large quantities of wristwatches from both well-known and more unusual watch houses. Rolex as a brand are obviously highly sought after, particularly the professional models, and there are long waiting lists for the new timepieces which in turn increases the interest and demand for pre-owned models. However, vintage models are also becoming increasing popular, such as this rare circa 1966 Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner bracelet watch which we sold for £25,000. For both modern and vintage watches, the hammer price can be greatly enhanced if they still have their original boxes and paperwork.
And it’s not just wristwatches garnering all the attention; our December Fine Art sale included a rare 19th century enamel full hunter lady’s watch in the form of a lute which realised £1,600. In this case it was the intricate enamel detail and unique style which caught the bidders’ eye.
All of this goes to show the wide range of jewellery and watches which pass through our doors here at the Auction Centre – and that it is not just the big showy diamond solitaires which attract the highest bids!”