If you have been obsessing over the fabulous bold gold ‘80s jewelry in the House of Gucci movie, you now have a chance to get those vintage style pieces—at potentially great prices—at the December jewelry auctions.
Hundreds of jewels, including iconic styles from the likes of Bulgari, Cartier, and David Webb, along with rare diamonds and gems, and historic pieces with fascinating provenances, will hit the auction block in New York during the first week of December at four big sales.
Here are tips from the auction experts to help you navigate the process.
The best value is in contemporary signed pieces.
“Contemporary signed jewelry from any of the important houses tend to be very good buys on the secondary market,” says Daphne Lingon, Head of Jewelry, Christie’s Americas. Christie’s Magnificent Jewels sale on December 8 will offers over 200 lots, and the auction house’s online jewelry sale, with hundreds more pieces, closes on December 7.
Good deals can be found on signature pieces like Van Cleef & Arpels’s Alhambra designs, Cartier’s Juste Un Clou rings, and Bulgari’s coin necklaces, among other pieces at the four upcoming auctions. There are also numerous signed bold gold pieces for sale from other contemporary brands like Buccellati, Vhernier, Pomellato, and Tiffany.
If you are a Bulgari fan, Sotheby’s has more than 75 pieces from the house available in its online sale, from simple earrings to colorful gemstone pieces and its signature gold and antique coin Monete designs. More Bulgari pieces will also be at the Magnificent Jewels sale on December 7.
Diamonds often sell below retail levels.
“There is incredible value to be found in colorless diamonds,” says Sara Payne Thomeier, Head of Jewels, Americas at Phillips. The auction houses are offering a range of top-quality diamonds, and she says they usually sell for below retail prices. The Phillips New York Jewelry sale is December 6.
Thomeier’s pro tip: “Establish a relationship with a specialist who can help you understand the variables in the prices of diamonds and their resale value. The specialists deal with this stuff day in and day out, and they are a great resource to help you find what you want.”
Look for fun and unique jewelry that you won’t find elsewhere.
Phillips is offering over 120 pieces from a single collector, including unusual pieces like a gold and diamond Gucci evening bag, with an estimate starting at $20,000. There is also a pair of signed sterling silver Gucci handcuffs that can be worn on a single wrist— if that is your thing. These are among the unique novelties you can find at auction.
One of Thomeier’s favorite lots in the auction is an unsigned gold bracelet estimated to sell between $4,000 and $6,000, which she says has big personality. “It doesn’t have the normal trappings that appeals to the masses, and sometimes those things do go under the radar.” Which means you might get it for a great price.
Another standout is a signed gold Salvador Dali watch made for Piaget with an estimate between $10,000 – $15,000.
Historic pieces are future family heirlooms.
If want to own a piece of history, the auction houses always have important pieces with juicy backstories. A top lot at Christie’s is a 17th century emerald, diamond, and enamel rosary that belonged to Queen Maria Anna of Saxony (1805-1877), and later to philanthropist and socialite Jayne Wrightsman. It’s a stylish pendant necklace that is surprisingly wearable, and it’s certainly a conversation piece.
A standout jewel at Phillips is a Paul Flato bracelet with an exceptional rare carved Columbian emerald of 200 carats, and an estimate starting at $300,000. Statement pieces by Flato don’t come to market often, which makes this a unique opportunity.
The contemporary designers in high demand are available.
Some contemporary designers, like JAR, are so elusive that you can’t easily purchase their jewelry—and this makes the auctions the prime place to find them. A pair of JAR’s rose-gold and diamond cuffs are being offered at Phillips, and both Christie’s and Sotheby’s have some of his designs for sale this month.
David Michael, created by twin brothers in New Zealand, makes so few pieces a year that it’s nearly impossible to track them down. But Sotheby’s is offering a pair of David Michael earrings made in an array of blue gems—sapphires, zircon, aquamarine, and turquoise along with a ring.
Rare diamonds and gemstones have proven to be good investments.
Rare fancy-colored diamonds have risen in value significantly over the past decades and have become an alternative investment for some people looking to diversify their assets. Sotheby’s has a selection of colored diamonds for sale—including a 6.11-carat fancy intense blue with an estimate of $4.5 million to $6.5 million.
Another Sotheby’s showstopper is a 15-carat D-flawless heart-shaped diamond that is expected to fetch over $1.5 million. Designer Lauren Harwell Godfrey envisioned a necklace and a ring design for the diamond, so the lucky buyer can have it set in an exclusive design of their choice.
The top lot at Bonham’s New York auction on December 6 is a rare 48.38-carat Ceylon sapphire and diamond ring by Bulgari with an estimate of $500,000-$800,000. It is among a wide mix of pieces from high-priced diamond to everyday pieces and Art Deco designs that you can find at the sale.
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