When pre-owned Jewellery is an Investment
by Hayley Eustace | February 14, 2018
Pre-loved Jewellery is a hugely rewarding purchase. It’s the most outfit-transforming item you can buy, it can be passed through the generations and it can tell a story. But given the erratic whims of fashion, it has long been a fickle guardian of your family fortune. That said, it adds glamour to an otherwise dry investment portfolio, and some pieces do strike gold. While it’s notoriously difficult to predict what’s going to interest the collector down the line. As a senior jewellery consultant at Xupes, I know that there are a number of qualities experienced buyers look for, and these can nudge you in the right direction when considering your next purchase.
When assessing an item of jewellery for auction, outside of its intrinsic and sentimental value, the number one thing to look for is craftsmanship. Top pieces are often one-off works of art, or at least are made in very limited numbers. What we’re looking for here more than anything is who made it and in jewellery, there are a handful of names that stand head and shoulders above the rest of the field—Boucheron, Buccellati, Cartier, Chopard, Tiffany and Van Cleef & Arpels. There are others, but these are the most likely candidates.
Collectors look beyond the brand to the age it comes from. Many houses were champions of an era. One of the most exciting names for the first few decades was the Viennese designer Wiener Werkstätte, as confirmed by the recent exhibition in New York, Wiener Werkstätte, 1903-1932: The Luxury of Beauty.
In terms of eras per se, popular decades in jewellery auctions are the 20s/30s, the 50s and 70s. The number one has long been the Art Deco pieces of the 20s and 30s. Jewellery from this time was as energetic as the jazz music that accompanied it. We frequently see Art Deco revivals, with its progressive nature finding a new home in each generation.
Name and period aside, houses have specialities and signature collections. Cartier is renowned for its clocks and watches, as well as its Panthère jewellery, and Tiffany is best-known for its high-quality stones and its engagement rings.
This carries weight when you are exploring the pre-loved market and when the example is a limited edition the prices can really start to grow. A consistently popular collection is Van Cleef & Arpels’ iconic Alhambra range, especially pieces from close to the fifties when it was a favourite of Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly.
Finally, we consider the jewellery’s intrinsic value. The most interesting area here is the gemstone. What we’re talking about is not the quantity of stone but rather its quality and rarity. Special gems mounted and cut by the top houses are failsafe investments. Colour is increasingly sought-after and in a future in which the mining of natural resources is likely to be more severely regulated, these stones will potentially become priceless.
For more information on the brands and pieces featured in this article explore the pre-owned, vintage and antique jewellery catalogue on Xupes, or for more jewellery trends and buying guides follow Xupes magazine.