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Going, Going, Gone!!! - Buying at Auction

By  Judith Anderson  GG, CGA

I have $500 for this fabulous piece of jewelry.   Do I hear $, anyone at $1,000....okay, we have $1, who will say $1,250...yes....anyone for $1,500 ? Going once, going twice, SOLD for $1,250 !!!!

Purchasing jewelry at auction is an exciting and increasingly popular alternative to shopping at a retail jewelry store.   It can be extremely rewarding for the knowledgeable buyer; but for the unprepared or inexperienced buyer, it can be an expensive mistake.   In the above scenario, the winning bidder may have bought a $3,700 natural sapphire for a mere $1,250 or, just as easily, he/she could have paid too much for a $200 synthetic stone.

Beware!  Jewelry sold at an auction is not always what it appears to be.   Some of the jewelry may be authentic antiques with natural gems.   But, many of the pieces may have synthetic and artificially enhanced stones, while other jewels are just mediocre contemporary reproductions and fakes!!!

Here are four tips to help you when purchasing jewelry at auction:

1. Preview and thoroughly examine any items you may purchase.   Do not simply rely on the auctioneer's verbal statement of value and/or condition.   Always look for quality.

2. Set your price limit before the bidding begins.   A predetermined limit helps prevent getting caught up in a "bidding frenzy" which could result in what I call "buyer's remorse". Once you set your maximum price, stick to it.

3. If you are considering a substantial purchase, work with an independent gemologist to assess the quality and value prior to purchase.   Do not rely on appraisal reports provided by the auction house, unless they fully guarantee the contents of the report.   Be wary of appraisal reports with inflated values or limited descriptions.

4. Have Fun!!!   An auction preview is an opportunity to closely examine fine jewelry without high pressure sales clerks pushing to close a sale.   During the holiday season there will be auctions at many of the larger firms that specialize in jewelry, such as Skinner's and Christie's.

Bijoux Extraordinaire offers several services to help the jewelry consumer wisely purchase jewelry at auction and other alternative markets.

Our gemologists can provide you with a fair and accurate evaluation of condition, quality and value of any prospective purchases.   We assist you in determining a reasonable price " advise you of possible risks.

After your purchase, we can provide a detailed appraisal report for verification and insurance purposes.   If you are unable to attend an auction,  our experts can act as your representative and perform the preview and execution of bids.   Our purpose it to work for you to obtain the best quality jewel at the best price possible.

If you would like to learn more about rare gemstones and beautiful jewelry,  you may want to enroll in our series of  jewelry workshops  for the jewelry consumer. 

Education is the best way to become a more savvy jewelry consumer!

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