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Vintage Jewellery On The Up

Published: 17/05/2017

Vintage Jewellery On The Up

Vintage jewellery up more than 80%

Period and designer jewellery has grown more in value than the housing market, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), making jewellery re-valuations highly advisable.

The research revealed the most rare and sought-after pieces of vintage jewellery have soared in value by more than 80% during the past 10 years. It compared this with house prices in England, which have risen in value by just 47% over the same period.

Art Deco(1920s and 1930s) and Belle Epoque jewellery (1890 to 1915) pieces have soared by 88% since 2006, according to Art Market Research, while antique jewellery and post-war era (1945-1975) jewellery have risen by 68% and 70%, respectively.

Despite the rises, auction house Bonhams claims Britons are sitting on millions of pounds worth of designer jewellery because they simply do not know exactly how much it is worth. Bonhams said many owners do not realise how valuable their jewellery is because the hallmarks, signatures or initials of its creators are unnoticed or unrecognised.

Jean Ghika, head of jewellery for UK and Europe at Bonhams, said: “People tend to think designer pieces of jewellery are very obviously branded by their creators, but that’s not always the case. The identifying marks of many leading designers can be incredibly subtle. Hallmarks, signatures, initials, even a name or a code on the back of a jewel can signify that a piece of jewellery has come from a highly sought-after house. These could include names like Cartier or Van Cleef & Arpels and these ‘signatures’ can make a huge difference to the eventual selling price.”

Nigel Sykes of Prestige Valuations said: "We really do advise everyone in times like these to have their jewellery professionally valued. Without an accurate up to date valuation you run the risk of being under insured in the event of loss or theft. Many insurance companies will also insist that you have items over a certain value specified individually on your policy and regularly valued to ensure the limits are adequate."

Online auctions boost jewellery sales

Online sales have seen provincial salerooms match the big boys; highly collectable names are no longer the preserve of just the well-known houses, the worldwide reach of the internet has helped publicise local auction houses and boost consumer confidence with it. Salerooms all around the country have seen increases in their jewellery trade.

In May 2014 a natural pearl necklace was sold to an online bidder via the Wiltshire based Woolley & Wallis auctioneers for a staggering £89,000, against an estimate of £50,000-70,000. It is the highest-priced jewel sold online at Woolley & Wallis to date.

Birmingham based Fellows auctioneers hold a number of specialised jewellery sales every year and they too have seen a substantial increase in their online sales “Rare pieces are going out to a global marketplace and there is no snobbery about which auction house you bid in any more,” says Geoff Whitefield, insurance manager at Fellows. A client who thought a pair of earrings were costume jewellery was staggered when they went under the hammer for £25,000.”

Bellmans Auctioneers & Valuers, West Sussex in 2015 sold a pair of Twenties French platinum-and-diamond bracelets, which linked together to also form a necklace, for £14,000.  

Jonathan Pratt, managing director at Bellmans, advises that anyone considering buying from an online auction should first check the saleroom’s professional accreditation. “Look for trade-association endorsement, such as the Society of Fine Art Auctioneers and Valuers (SOFAA), and the Association of Accredited Auctioneers (AAA),” he says. It’s also worth checking that auction jewellery specialists are qualified and have obtained a recognised gemmological certificate.


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