The Rich are Finding Happiness in Precious Baubles-Online Jewellery Auctions

Online auctions are all the rage with successful sales as well-to-do collectors are deriving joy out of bidding their favourite pieces from the comfort of their homes says Vijetha Rangabashyam

While most people are worried in anticipation about this ongoing dreadful pandemic and are cloistered within the walls of their homes, the well to do female consumers and in some cases males, who have an affinity towards jewellery, are having fun with online digital auctions hosted by world famous auction houses like Christie’s, Sotheby’s and the like. The recently held auctions are a testament to the growing fondness of rich shoppers towards bidding their favourite pieces online. May be it is the stress or restlessness, but more number of women are finding joy in collecting pieces from their favourite jewellers.

The Thrill of Bidding
Women who are bidding pieces online are already passionate about jewellery. They don’t have an outlet, no evening drinks at a favourite restaurant with girl friends, no hot yoga – the pent up energy is being channeled towards chasing jewellery pieces that they have been eyeing and the thrill of locking it in a desired price is extremely gratifying. Maleeva, aged 60 bought a Tiffany & Co Angela Cummings Gold ‘Rose Petal’ Link Bracelet; according to an article on New York Times, she had been impatient to buy the piece and has been bidding aggressively.

A Safer Investment Choice
Those who are averse to stocks and real estate right now are investing in timeless pieces. When everything else around people is uncertain, deriving joy from owning exceptional gemstones and jewellery is the new normal. Historical pieces are irreplaceable and one of a kind and people are finding the need to fill a void in their otherwise mundane lives with such gorgeous pieces.

Who are these Collectors?
Rich housewives and women with thriving careers between the age of 35 and 60 participate in these auctions. These are women who know their jewellery and have an eye for rare, exquisite pieces by pedigree brands. By virtue of collecting for several years, the need to see the piece in the flesh is less. The trust that they have with the auction houses and the jewellery brands is high.

The Matter of Pricing
Auction houses have used the winning strategy of implementing conservative pricing as it attracts more bidders. The current bid for a pair of Geranium earrings by JAR with an estimate of $1,500-2000 is $5500. A gorgeous Cartier coral and diamond brooch with an estimate of 50,000-80,000 CHF was sold for 68,750 CHF. Ultimately, estimates under $20,000 seems to be a sweet spot for collectors – the decision of buying can be independent without consulting members of the family as it is not a high octane purchase. Fewer lots and frequent options seem to be a winning combination.

Of Provenance & Pedigree
Pieces from brands with repute and history do well in these auctions. Cartier, Tiffany & Co, Van, Cleef & Arpels, Bulgari are usual suspects, while brands like David Webb, JAR, Verdura and Hemmerle also do extremely well. Pieces whose origins are unknown don’t do as well unless they come with a piece of indelible story, mostly period pieces. Collectors feel safer and secure when they buy pieces from known brands at an online auction.

Innovation Abound
Auction houses are doing everything in their capacity to make their auctions more exciting. From private viewings through video calls to home delivery to guiding bidders over the phone, an array of services is made available to eager bidders. Auction houses like Doyle are even walking the bidders through the whole process, by showing them pieces on Facetime or Zoom – maintaining a personal connection with potential collectors has become important now than before.

Diamonds Galore

In an auction by Christie’s a plethora of diamond jewellery were on sale including a spectacular diamond ring of 28.86 carats that sold for $2,115,000 and many diamond pieces from Graff. A few fancy colour diamond pieces at Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewellery auction missed the mark, but an intense pink diamond ring was sold for $3 million.

Colours of Hope
The demand for Kashmiri sapphires and Burmese Pigeon blood rubies was high even before the lockdown. Once the pandemic came into play, people wanted to seize the opportunity to get their hands on such rare investments. An important Kashmiri sapphire and diamond ring was sold at a recently held auction for 524,000 CHF well over its estimate of 300,000 - 490,000 CHF.

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