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How To Buy Jewellery At Auction

We’ve taken 5 minutes out of Hamish Sharma’s day from Sotheby’s to get the lowdown on buying jewellery at auction. 

Buying jewellery for that special someone can be the perfect way to get something that’s unique, well-priced and will have all the other girlfriends, fiancees and wives dying of jealousy. We love a good bit of jealousy.

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LW: Some clever sod recently told me that buying an engagement ring at auction is not such a silly idea, is this right?

HS: The range at auction, both size and design is unsurpassable.  I haven’t seen a retail alternative that offers designer pieces, antique pieces and the variation of stone size and quality all in the one location.  Buying at auction has many benefits aside from the commonly known fact that it is incredibly cost effective.

LW: What are some of the benefits?

HS: Put simply, if the purchaser does their research they will get much better quality and if size matters, they can secure a larger stone at auction than if they were to buy a similar item in the retail market.

LW: What should our readers be looking out for?

HS: They should look out for good design, stone quality and of course value.  I also believe provenance plays an important role; some pieces have a great story, quite often items for auction can be from individuals of great iconic style.

LW: What budgets do your auctions cater for?

HS: Sotheby’s Australia caters for a broad range of budgets. In our upcoming auction this Wednesday evening for example, we have pieces ranging from $500 dollars right up to $200,000 plus.

LW: How do we know we’re not buying a CZ when we’re shopping for diamonds?

HS: At Sotheby’s Australia, we guarantee everything we sell as per the catalogue.

LW: How does one go about buying a piece of jewellery at auction?

HS: The best start is to study the catalogue online, then visit the scheduled Melbourne or Sydney exhibitions where all items are available to look at, hold and try on. I would then recommend that people engage with our experts who are present and ask any questions.

I really enjoy talking to people about each of the individual pieces, whether about the size of a stone, the quality, the designer or even the provenance.  After going through that exciting process (with or without your potential fiancée), then it’s just a case of deciding how much you’d like to bid for each of the items you like. Easy!

LW: With your auction coming up this Wednesday what are some key pieces our readers should be looking out for?

HS: If you’re looking for an engagement ring, then I highly recommend our catalogue cover lots – lot 185, lot 186 and lot 187.  These three lots vary in estimated selling ranges from $6,000 to $95,000 and my wife would be happy with any (or all) of them.

There are also really interesting lots at the more affordable end of the sale, for example there is an 18ct gold and diamond ring that features a brilliant cut diamond weighing 2.10 carats that has a selling range estimate of just $1,000 to $1,500.  There really is something for everyone at this auction.

LW: Top tips for getting the piece you want?

HS: Keep your hand in the air!  No seriously, I believe it’s important to be assertive with your bidding when you really want something.  If the auctioneer knows you’re interested, they’ll keep coming back to you and it’s definitely a good idea to declare yourself as a strong and committed contender to the lot item/s that you are interested in.

Sotheby’s Australia will be holding an auction on December 10th starting at 5:30pm AEST for their collection of important jewels. See what’s on offer via their website.

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