Mary Ann Brown | May 20th, 2014
Antique Jewelry Gemology
Recent sales at John Moran Auctioneers and Dupuis Fine Jewellery Auctioneers tell us that Internet bidding is on the upswing. This has been a trend for some time, but the share of the winning bids via the World Wide Web is increasing in a meaningful way. John Moran’s post-sale press release announced it in its bullet points: “Over one third of buyers purchase through online platforms,” and Duncan Parker, vice president at Dupuis Fine Jewellery Auctioneers, said in a telephone interview, “We have an ever-increasing number of people who are on-line bidders, and I think we still have a good contingent of telephone bidders, but I think that the on-line bidding is becoming more prevalent now, over the telephone.”
This circa 1880 Renaissance Revival enamel, pearl, and 18k gold ring, with two female ship’s masthead shoulders centering a baroque pearl measuring 10 x 8.5 mm, realized $9000 (est. $1500/2500). John Moran Auctioneers.
This circa 1930 suite of Art Deco emerald and diamond jewelry, mounted in 18k yellow and white gold, included a necklace with a 15½” long silver neck chain added later, a 6¾” long bracelet with a later-added clasp, a ring, and a pair of earrings with screwback fitments. The suite brought $19,200 (est. $5000/7000). John Moran Auctioneers.
John Moran Auctioneers Spring HQ Jewelry and Luxury Auction
John Moran Auctioneers, based in Altadena, California, held its 324-lot Spring HQ Jewelry and Luxury Auction on May 20. It was a strong sale, according to Ana Wroblaski, jewelry specialist at Moran, who said the success was due to the fact that “everything was very marketable and very sellable. It was priced…correctly. We didn’t have a lot of strong names in this particular sale, at least ones that were very old.
“We had that Schlumberger and Webb set—everything else, though, we basically had priced to be able to sell.” With a sell-through rate of 98%, the sale confirmed a “strong market for fresh-to-the-market property from estates and private collections,” according to the post-sale press release.
The Schlumberger/Webb set Wroblaski spoke of was an assembled set of hexagonal-cut amethyst and circular-cut diamond and 18k gold jewelry—a brooch by Jean Schlumberger and ear clips by David Webb—that was estimated at $8000/12,000 and sold to a floor bidder for $19,200 (with buyer’s premium).
Other post-sale news speaks of the enduring trend that “jade and coral proved some of the evening’s biggest-ticket items, outperforming estimates by wide margins.” Examples included a contemporary coral, diamond, and 18k gold necklace with a centerpiece clasp signed “LARRY.” The multi-strand coral bead necklace could be converted to two bracelets. It brought $15,600 (est. $6000/8000). An Art Deco enamel and jadeite compact (see photo and caption accompanying this column) realized $5206.25 (est. $1200/1800).
John Moran Auctioneers’ next HQ Fine Jewelry and Luxury Auction is December 9. Please contact John Moran Auctioneers at (626) 793-1833 to speak with a specialist regarding the consignment process or upcoming auction highlights. The catalog will be on line in the weeks previous to the sale (www.johnmoran.com).
This circa 1920 Art Deco diamond and ruby ring, mounted in platinum, centering an old European-cut diamond weighing approximately 2.35 carats and surrounded by square-cut rubies, brought $10,200 (est. $9000/11,000). John Moran Auctioneers.
This circa 1935 suite of Art Deco ruby, simulated ruby, and diamond jewelry included a line bracelet, a necklace, a pair of scrolled earrings with screwback fitments, and a scrolled ring. There were several simulated rubies in the earrings, bracelet, and ring, and the necklace was set with simulated rubies. The suite sold for $9000 (est. $4000/6000). John Moran Auctioneers.
This pair of natural Burmese ruby earrings, mounted in 18k white gold, set with two oval-cut rubies weighing 1.40 and 1.82 carats, was accompanied by two AGL certificates, each stating that the rubies were of Burmese origin, with natural color and no enhancements. The pair sold for $14,700 (est. $8000/12,000). John Moran Auctioneers.
This circa 1900 enamel and diamond snake bangle bracelet, mounted in 18k gold, with an inner circumference of 6¼”, realized $12,777. Dupuis Fine Jewellery Auctioneers.
This late 19th-century aquamarine and 18k gold rivière necklace, 17½” long, was “one of the things that everyone looked at….it was a very subtle blue color. Every stone was exactly the same. They were clean; they were bright, well cut. It was quite exceptional…probably a very special gift that somebody ended up putting aside to wear on a special occasion, and the special occasion never arose, because it was still in pristine condition—unaltered and unaffected.” The rivière sold above the high estimate for $11,615. Dupuis Fine Jewellery Auctioneers.
This circa 1910 Belle Époque diamond and platinum brooch was accompanied by a report stating that the diamond is I color with VS2 clarity. It sold for $15,100. Dupuis Fine Jewellery Auctioneers.
Dupuis Fine Jewellery Auctioneers
The June 22 Dupuis Fine Jewellery auction in Toronto, Ontario, with 709 lots, was one of its largest, according to Duncan Parker, who was one of three auctioneers that day. “People were there early and stayed through to the end, which was great. To be honest, we were a bit surprised that the attendance was as consistent, because it does make for a long day.” The auction was broadcast on line, with both audio and video.
Were there any surprises? “In terms of antique things, probably not in this sale,” Parker said. The highlight was a 9.38-carat pear-shaped diamond pendant that brought $472,965 (all prices in U.S. funds and with buyer’s premium); Parker thought it was probably cut in the 1970s.
He said that one thing of note, in terms of antiques and diamonds, “is that people have really become much more interested in antique diamonds, in old-cut diamonds. They may not know what the story is behind it, but they know it has a story. An old European-cut diamond or an old mine-cut diamond has far more people looking at it now than would’ve in the past, because it’s different than what everyone else has, and people are looking for that. They definitely generated some interest beyond what we expected, and that seems to be a pattern that’s growing. The market for old, antique diamonds has definitely bloomed,” said Parker.
He explained that “an old mine-cut diamond is 150 years old, or more, generally. It’s been around. It’s like looking at a tree that’s been felled, and you say, ‘wow, I count the rings and it’s got 300 years of growth. What this tree has been through.’ It’s the same thing. This diamond has been through the entire twentieth century. It’s been through the Victorian period…when the history of the nineteenth century was unfolding, and that’s a pretty amazing thing.”
The strengths of the jewelry market are broadcast in the post-sale press releases. I wonder if and where there might be weakness, so I asked Parker this question, and he replied, “We do a bit of reconciliation after every auction—to look and see what has generated interest. And the antiques did do quite well. We do have, I think, a little bit of a dip of interest in Victorian jewels.” He told the story of a man who came to consign “an absolute load of pristine, beautiful Victorian jewelry…in amazing condition” to the Dupuis sale. “It had never been worn, bent, or anything; nothing missing.” The man had bought all this jewelry for its meltdown value in his “We Buy Your Gold” business. He couldn’t bring himself to melt this group, so he brought it to Parker, who broke the news to him, saying, “I’d love to take this, because I think it’s great. But in our auction, we had seen a number of Victorian things that struggled to get bids of much more than the meltdown value, which is a dreadful shame.” He continued, “It may come around, but that’s certainly a pattern that we’ve seen.”
“One of the things—with rare exceptions—that we don’t get any response to is something like a pocket watch,” which many people think should be valuable because they “recall seeing their grandfather walking around with a waistcoat with a chain and looking at this thing or wearing it on special occasions, perhaps.” It was often “a central element of the family’s accessory and jewelry-related history, because in a world where traditionally men didn’t have jewelry, particularly a century ago, the only jewel that most men would probably have might well be their pocket watch. I have my grandfather’s pocket watch, and I know full well if I tried to sell it I’d be likely to get $100 or something like that. People don’t carry pocket watches anymore. They’re items of limited utility, as we say.”
Another soft area is the brooch. Parker told me that “the brooch just generally has fallen out of favor, to some extent. Very beautiful brooches will continue to be of interest, but the average jewelry user doesn’t wear a brooch. Part of that is fashion, but it’s driven by the clothing, the textiles that we wear. A brooch can’t be sustained on a lot of the lighter or synthetic textiles that we wear because we’ll just start ripping holes in them.” He added, “I know Madeleine Albright is a famous brooch collector, but she hasn’t single-handedly convinced the rest of the world to start wearing brooches again.”
Parker wrapped up the auction results for us, offering some parting thoughts: “There weren’t too many antique things that didn’t sell…we were very pleased. We had an increasing number of buyers from Europe. Probably a lot of the antiques are European, and I think that they’re seeing a source opening up, perhaps. They’re seeing that it’s perhaps underappreciated, and they can bring these things back home.”
The next Dupuis Fine Jewellery sale is November 23, and the catalog will be available on line (www.dupuis.ca) several weeks before the auction. Also of interest is Parker’s blog at (http://dupuisblog.com), the cyberspace spot where he keeps us informed on a variety of jewelry-related topics.
This late 19th-century hand-painted portrait miniature of a young lady, surrounded by polychrome enamel and old mine-cut diamond floral motifs mounted in silver, with an 18¼” long 14k gold necklace, sold for $9873. Dupuis Fine Jewellery Auctioneers.
Parker said the pearls in this 28″ long antique natural pearl necklace “were fairly matched in color; they weren’t really creamy or really mixed colors.” The necklace is composed of 103 natural pearls, measuring 7.6 mm to 5.0 mm, joined by a silver and 14k gold clasp centering an old mine-cut diamond weighing approximately 0.95 carat, and surrounded by smaller old mine-cut diamonds. It had Austro-Hungarian assay marks and was accompanied by a GIA report stating that the pearls were predominantly natural and of saltwater origin. The price soared well above the presale estimate to reach $69,690. Parker said, “Good natural pearls are very strong, but they have to be a good size. Natural pearls are, inherently, antique things, almost always. They’ve been coming out of the woodwork because they’ve been selling well.” Dupuis Fine Jewellery Auctioneers.
Contemporary Jewelry Design Contest
Art Jewelry Forum (AJF), based in Mill Valley, California, is accepting applications for its 2014 Artist Award. AJF will again be providing a $7500 cash award to a contemporary jewelry artist, thanks to the generous support of Susan Kempin and Susan Beech, both longtime collectors and supporters of AJF.
Jurors for this year’s competition are Sooyeon Kim, jewelry artist and winner of the 2013 award, Carin Reinders, director of the CODA Museum, Apeldoorn, Netherlands, and Karen Rotenberg, founder and director of Alianza Contemporary Crafts and a collector of contemporary jewelry.
“The purpose of the award is to acknowledge promise, innovation, and individuality in the work of an emerging jewelry artist and to help to advance the artist’s career. The competition is open to makers of wearable art jewelry who are not currently enrolled in a professional training program. Work submitted in the application must have been unsupervised, and not previously submitted for a BFA or MFA show,” a statement from AJF read.
Deadline for submission is September 30, 2014. More information about the award and the application guidelines may be found on AJF’s Web site at (www.artjewelryforum.org).
The winner will be announced during the Schmuck Jewelry Fair in Munich, Germany in March 2015. The artist’s work will be exhibited at one of AJF’s member galleries taking part in a jewelry fair in the U.S. or in Europe in 2015.
Originally published in the September 2014 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2014 Maine Antique Digest
Article source: http://www.maineantiquedigest.com/stories/auctions-in-california-and-canada-give-insight-to-market-trends/4612