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08 september 2009

Jewelry is one of those goods whose sales were less affected by the global financial and economic crisis.

It is unstable time which most often makes people invest into reliable assets which of course include jewelry pieces.

This is confirmed by the achievements of auction trade which according to Christie’s Amsterdam branch enjoys more success than in the pre-crisis period. Buyers display keen demand for fine jewelry in all the price ranges.

What kind of jewelry is most valuable and how to determine the true value of jewelry pieces – these questions are answered by experts in Amsterdam.

What is in fashion?

According to auctioneers, modern jewelry pieces to which they attribute jewelry items made after 1980 today are not valued too much. This is why experts advise to keep them for several years more – fashion is changing quickly.

On the contrary, there is a strong demand for jewelry emerged in the 1970s although just four years ago these pieces were virtually impossible to sell.

Also in great demand and salable at high prices, despite the crisis, are antique items – those manufactured in the 1920s by the craftsmen of such jewelry houses as Tiffany & Co, Cartier, and Van Cleef & Arpels.

No less sought after are pearl jewelry pieces. Due to their rarity their prices have lately surged 30-35%.

Value yardsticks

Experts name seven yardsticks to measure the value of jewelry:

1. Rarity

Rarity of a jewelry piece adds to its value. For instance, 18-century items are undoubtedly rare since the gems they are graced with may be unfastened from the piece itself and the latter may be adapted to this or that stone depending on the current fashion.

2. Real value

It corresponds to the cost of precious metals used to manufacture a jewelry piece. Gems and diamonds may serve a good base indicator for the price of jewelry pieces in this case.

3. Condition

A jewelry piece in its original condition may have a significantly greater value than a modified and restored sample. If the condition of the jewelry piece is excellent its consequent price is only goes higher.

As for the question whether antique pieces are better preserved if worn or kept in a safe, experts recommend the first, especially speaking of pearls. It is exactly the humidity of human skin which helps to maintain pearls’ condition in a natural way. On the contrary, the dry air of a safe will make them dull.

However, it should also be born in mind that some jewelry pieces are more fragile than others: an art-deco styled ring graced with an emerald is worse for wear than a ruby or sapphire ring.

4. Manufacture

The way a jewelry piece is manufactured is also important. Thus, a ring with a solitaire diamond made in 1900 will cost less than a like ring made in the same year but having a full frame-set of diamonds.

Originality

5. In the 19th century it was customary to sell replicas of valuable jewelry pieces to wear them while travelling. Such imitations were made of glass or rhinestone and served as substitutes for diamonds. Their cost is just a fraction of the original’s cost.

In the 1960s Dior and Chanel started to produce replicas of their own jewelry pieces. Often you may feel it is an imitation only touching such items. They are less smooth in finish which is due to the different time devoted to manufacture the original and its commercial copy.

6. Jewelry box

Many buyers of jewelry pieces are acting by reflex discarding jewelry boxes or cases they get from their vendor, but the original packing boosts the value of jewelry pieces way up.

7. Origin

Former owners of a jewelry piece may also influence its value. Jewelry items belonging to celebrities will be auctioned at higher prices.

As for how to determine the real value of a precious piece, experts advise either to consult official experts for independent estimation or an auction house since its owners are interested to offer your lot at a maximum price taking into account the commission they get.

It is also possible to find a jeweler but in this case you should be ready to have the lowest possible price due to his or her interest as a would-be re-seller.

Alex Shishlo, Editor of the Rough&Polished European Bureau, Brussels - Amsterdam