This month, I want to talk about something that everyone who collects jewelry has experienced: hoarding old, out of style pieces that you have no use for anymore.
You know the pieces—they were once the height of fashion, fabulously trendy showstoppers that now appear hopelessly outdated. They usually represent a very specific time in fashion (sigh, the 80’s) and have remained firmly rooted in that decade, unable to meld with modern fashion. Your family has no interest in inheriting them and you can’t picture yourself wearing them ever again, and yet you haven’t been able to part with them thus far. If this sounds familiar, read on—do I have a solution for you!
Two words: auction houses.
Although sometimes viewed as confusing or intimidating, using an auction house to sell old pieces is actually an excellent, relatively simple way to edit your jewelry collection in a thoughtful way.
Why go through an auction house?
First and foremost, auction houses are a discreet, trustworthy way to part with unwanted jewelry. They are equipped with knowledgeable specialists who can conduct accurate appraisals. All pieces are authenticated, removing the liability from the owner (a perk, for sure).
Auction houses also offer maximum exposure compared with other options, such as consigning with your local jeweler. In an auction house, piece(s) are placed in carefully curated collections and offered to a worldwide audience of buyers. Jewelry auctions are advertised and timed to attract the greatest number of interested buyers, further facilitating the sale of your pieces.
When it comes to jewelry auctions, there are a few other things to be aware of.
A commission is usually charged based on the selling price. There is also usually a small insurance fee.
Transportation, cleaning, and cataloging are typically conducted free of charge.
Lastly, a reserve is assigned to each piece ahead of the auction. The reserve refers to the confidential minimum selling price. The auction house and the seller set the reserve together.
So what should you do if you have pieces that you want to get ready for auction?
First, take some good pictures of your jewelry for the auction house (don’t worry, professional photos will be taken should your item be accepted!). I would suggest taking the pictures outside in daylight on a flat surface for best results. Make sure to take pictures of all relevant markings, identifications and details. Be sure to include measurements and to photograph any applicable documents, certifications, receipts, and previous appraisals. Any information on condition, provenance and quality should be incorporated with your other materials.
I would also recommend including a brief history of the item in question if it is not clearly explained by the documentation provided. If possible, questions such as when and where the item was purchased, how long you have had it, and if it is a family heirloom should be answered.
Another option to be aware of when considering the auction route: the cash buyout. Many houses offer cash buyouts to clients who do not want to wait for the item to go to auction.
Additionally, these establishments usually offer estate-planning services. This is excellent for clients who want to ensure the correct handling of their collections in the future. Enlisting these services is a great way to eliminate any potential angst for family members who may not know what to do with an inherited collection.
In closing, using an auction house is an excellent avenue to consider when selling old pieces, or ensuring entire collections are handled appropriately in the future. I hope this post was informative and helped demystify the auction process. Now that we’ve figured out how to get rid of our old pieces, we can start looking for something new!
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Until next time,