21 Jan Jewelry and Online Auctions
Jewelry and Online Auctions
During these unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic, the jewelry auction industry has remained strong as wealthy buyers’ love for jewelry hasn’t dwindled, in fact, the opposite has occurred during these surging times of online shopping. Bidders’ backgrounds vary from wealthy housewives who are buying for themselves or for gifts, to investors who are weary of the stock market and are looking to put their money into something more tangible.
Another category of customers are active professional women savvy with researching and buying jewelry themselves. These women are passionate, clever, and well versed in fine jewelry and their success in their respective fields allows them to easily pursue this industry and investment opportunity. Dedicated collectors have found that quarantines and lockdowns add incentive to online shopping and participating in online jewelry auctions. Some are quite addicted in fact and when they can’t go out to retail stores to buy fine jewelry, rely on their computer or phone.
Well-known auction houses such as Bonhams, Doyle and Heritage Auctions compare the rush of aggressive bidding to when men play football and some bidders can be quite impatient to claim their prized piece of sparkle. Some jewelry auction houses can boast revenue upwards of $760,000 in just one month, selling anything from a gold rose-petal bracelet for $5300 to a sapphire and diamond bracelet for $16,000. If that’s not impressive enough, a Cartier Tutti Frutti bracelet of diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and other precious stones sold through Sotheby’s for $1.34 million in April of 2020. Online jewelry auctions have been prosperous and, Sotheby’s has generated over $19.5 million since March 2020 with bidders age 40 and under comprising 30 percent of participants, along with a comparable percent that was entirely new to Sotheby’s. At Sotheby’s April auction, pieces were put up for sale in the $20,000 mark as they believed buyers shopping in that price range can purchase without consulting family members. However, the house began to raise the lot values in later auctions. Many pieces at the leading auction houses are from designer pedigree such as Harry Winston, Buccellati, Bulgari and Graff amongst many others, which offer a feeling of security to buyers that they are claiming a pedigreed piece.
To make quarantined buyers comfortable with pieces seen only online, auction houses are providing online and telephone guidance and using Zoom and video viewings for a more lively experience. Auction houses are now doing fewer lots but having more frequent auctions in order to hold the attention of bidders. Needless to say, jewelry lovers are rapidly adapting to this new form of auction without having seen any of the goods in person.