How to buy jewelry at auction

If you’ve been obsessed with fabulous 80s bold gold jewelry in the Gucci House movie, you now have a chance to get these vintage-style pieces – at potentially great prices – at the December jewelry auctions.

Hundreds of pieces of jewelry, including iconic styles like Bulgari, Cartier and David Webb, as well as rare diamonds and gems, and historic pieces from fascinating provenances, will be auctioned in New York during the first week of December at four big sales.

Here is advice from the auction experts to help you navigate the process.

The best value is in contemporary signed pieces.

“Contemporary signed jewelry from all the big houses tends to be a great buy in the aftermarket,” says Daphne Lingon, Head of Jewelry, Christie’s Americas. Christie’s Magnificent Jewels on December 8 will feature over 200 lots, and the auction house’s online jewelry sale, along with hundreds of other pieces, will close on December 7.

Bargains can be found on iconic pieces such as Alhambra creations by Van Cleef & Arpels, Juste Un Clou rings from Cartier and coin necklaces by Bulgari, among other pieces at the four upcoming auctions. There are also many bold gold pieces signed by other contemporary brands such as Buccellati, Vhernier, Pomellato and Tiffany.

If you’re a Bulgari fan, Sotheby’s has over 75 pieces from the house in its online sale, from simple earrings and colorful gemstones to its iconic gold and antique pieces Monete creations. Other Bulgari pieces will also be on the Magnificent Jewels sale on December 7th.

Three gold bracelets will be auctioned this month.

Diamonds often sell for below retail levels.

“There is incredible value to be found in colorless diamonds,” says Sara Payne Thomeier, jewelry manager for the Americas at Phillips. Auction houses have a range of premium diamonds, and she says they generally sell for below retail prices. The Phillips New York jewelry sale is December 6.

Thomeier’s pro tip: “Build a relationship with a specialist who can help you understand the variables in diamond prices and their resale value. Specialists deal with this stuff day in and day out, and they’re a great resource to help you find what you want.

Look for fun and unique jewelry that you won’t find elsewhere.

Phillips offers over 120 pieces from a single collector, including unusual pieces like a Gucci gold and diamond evening bag, with an estimate starting at $ 20,000. There is also a pair of Gucci signature handcuffs in sterling silver that can be worn on a single wrist, if that’s your thing. These are among the unique novelties that you can find at auction.

gucci bag
A Gucci evening bag in diamonds and gold.


One of Thomeier’s favorite lots in the auction is an unsigned gold bracelet valued at between $ 4,000 and $ 6,000, which she says has a big personality. “He doesn’t have the normal attributes that appeal to the masses, and sometimes these things go unnoticed.” Which means you could get it cheaply.

Another remarkable watch is a gold watch signed Salvador Dali designed for Piaget with an estimate between $ 10,000 and $ 15,000.

Historical pieces are future family heirlooms.

If you want to own a piece of history, auction houses always have important pieces with juicy stories. One of the best lots at Christie’s is a 17e Century-old emerald, diamond and enamel rosary that belonged to Queen Maria Anna of Saxony (1805-1877), and later to philanthropist and socialite Jayne Wrightsman. It’s a stylish pendant necklace that’s surprisingly wearable, and it’s definitely a conversation piece.

17th century rosary in emerald, diamonds and enamel that belonged to Queen Marie-Anne of Saxe.


An unusual piece of jewelry at Phillips is a Paul Flato bracelet with an exceptional rare carved Colombian emerald of 200 carats, and an estimate starting at $ 300,000. Flato’s flagship pieces are not often marketed, which makes them a unique opportunity.

Highly demanded contemporary designers are available.

Some contemporary designers, like JAR, are so elusive that you can’t easily buy their jewelry, which makes auctions the go-to place to find it. A pair of rose gold and diamond cuffs by JAR is on offer at Phillips, and both Christie’s and Sotheby’s have some of his designs for sale this month.

David Michael, created by twin brothers in New Zealand, makes so few parts per year that it is almost impossible to find them. But Sotheby’s offers a pair of David Michael earrings made up of a range of blue precious stones: sapphires, zircons, aquamarine and turquoise, as well as a ring.

Rare diamonds and gemstones have proven to be good investments.

Rare fancy colored diamonds have increased in value significantly over the past few decades and have become an alternative investment for some people looking to diversify their assets. Sotheby’s offers a selection of colored diamonds for sale, including a fancy intense blue of 6.11 carats estimated between $ 4.5 and $ 6.5 million.

Another flagship item from Sotheby’s is a flawless 15-karat D-heart-shaped diamond that is expected to fetch over $ 1.5 million. Designer Lauren Harwell Godfrey came up with a necklace and ring design for the diamond, so that the lucky buyer could fit it up in an exclusive design of their choice.

The flagship lot of Bonham’s auction in New York on December 6 is a rare 48.38-carat Ceylon sapphire and diamond ring from Bulgari with an estimate of $ 500,000 to $ 800,000. It is one of a wide variety of pieces ranging from high priced diamonds to everyday pieces and Art Deco designs that you can find for sale.

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