Jewellery - Feature Article

When pre-owned Jewellery is an Investment

Diamonds are girls’ best friends, so the song goes, and if done right they can also can also be fruitful investments.

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.

Cartier Brooch
This Brooch by Cartier is from their Panthère collection and features two Emeralds mounted in an 18k Yellow Gold Panthère design.


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.

Cartier earrings
These earrings by Cartier is from their Panthère collection and features a Panthère design crafted in 18k Yellow Gold.


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.

Tiffany Ring
This Eternity Ring by Tiffany & Co. features round brilliant cut and baguette cut Diamonds mounted in a Platinum band.

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.

Tiffany Ring
This Ring by Tiffany & Co. features one round brilliant cut Diamond of approximately 0.20ct Colour G and Clarity VS, made in Platinum.


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.

Van Cleef necklace
This Necklace by Van Cleef & Arpels is from their Trefle collection and features a cabochon cut Sapphire surrounded by round brilliant cut Diamonds creating a beautiful floral design, made in 18k Yellow Gold.


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.

Van Cleef ring
This Beautiful Double Ring by Van Cleef & Arpels is from their Oiseaux de Paradis collection and features round brilliant cut Diamonds mounted in an 18k White Gold setting.


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.