How to invest in Diamonds & Fine Jewellery – what you should know in 2021
January 13, 2021
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Deciding where to invest your money is one of the most important financial decisions you can make. With the current financial climate, investing in stocks can feel uncertain and investing in goods, particularly luxury goods, can be a great alternative. Diamonds have always been a high-value item and are always in demand. Therefore, investing in diamonds could be the right option for you.
Do diamonds make for a good investment?
Diamonds, much like fine jewellery, often gain value with time. By selecting the correct diamonds a savvy investor can make an impressive return on investment when purchasing diamonds. These items can be held onto for years, maybe even generations, so that when they are sold they achieve far more than the original value paid. Diamonds are rare and, over the past five years, they have rarely been out of the news. The recent discovery of a 9.17 carat violet diamond at Australia’s Argyle Mine made headlines worldwide. Now polished down to 2.83 carat, the Argyle Violet is one of only a handful of such gems produced in the last 32 years and expected to excite unprecedented interest at the 2016 Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender, set to begin in June. But violet is far from the only colour to create a stir in today’s diamond market.
Blue Moon Diamond
This remarkable 12.03 carat diamond was bought at auction by Joseph Lau for a record breaking £32 million in November 2015. The Hong Kong property magnate promptly renamed the stone, ‘Blue Moon of Josephine’, after his daughter: an endearing provenance, current trends indicate, will only increase the diamond’s value.
Pink diamonds remain the world’s most valuable stones. The Graff Pink – sold at Sotheby’s Geneva in 2010 for £29 million – is the most expensive single stone ever bought at auction. It was once owned by celebrity jeweller, Harry Winston, which no doubt contributed to its cachet.
Glamorous connections were also a factor in the remarkable £43 million paid for Elizabeth Taylor’s Bulgari emerald at auction in 2011. While the record breaking bid of £962,500 for the Hope Spinel last year, owed much to its origins in the legendary Hope Collection. Rarity, colour or connections? Why are jewels more coveted today, than ever?
‘Flawless’ diamond sells for £11m in Hong Kong…
Sotheby’s in Hong Kong have sold a ‘flawless’ 8.41 carat pink diamond for $17.7 million, or £11m at the current exchange rate, outstripping the $15.5m (£9.65m) top estimate. Working out at £1.3 million per carat, the sale makes this diamond one of the most expensive diamonds per-carat ever sold, experts say. The diamond was the centrepiece of this autumn’s Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite collection.
The Sotheby’s website says the stone is the “spotlight” of this autumn’s sale, describing it as “remarkable,” with an “internally flawless clarity that is virtually unseen,” in diamonds of its kind. In a grading of diamonds listed on the Sotheby’s ‘Diamond Clarity Grading,’ internally flawless is the highest grading that can be bestowed on a stone by the auction house.
Naturally pink diamonds are incredibly rare, and those over one carat even more so; the senior director of Sotheby’s jewellery department for China and South East Asia described it as “one in ten million.” To exemplify their rarity, of the 75 largest known diamonds, only four are naturally pink; they are a real luxury item, some of the most uncommon and expensive gem stones available. Diamonds that are not white are described as being ‘fancy coloured,’ and are automatically placed in a higher price bracket due to their rarity.
Amid civil disobedience and unrest in Hong Kong, the diamond’s sale has proven that there is still a demand for luxury goods in these troubling times. Some experts are even predicting that the current political situation in Hong Kong could drive the price of luxury items in the region even higher.
Heightened demand for diamonds in China helped push diamond sales to a world record £48.36bn in 2013. The ongoing growth of China into an economic superpower means that the demand for luxury goods grows ever stronger. Separate lists compiled by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the United Nations all concluded that China has the world’s second strongest economy after the United States of America, and Hong Kong Sotheby’s burgeoning success makes it clear that the country’s richest are no strangers to luxury items.
Gemfields have also announced as far as 2015, that their December auction in Singapore has taken £27.6m, their record takings for a sale. The auction was made up exclusively of high-quality rough rubies, including an incredible 40.23 karat ruby nicknamed the ‘Rhino Ruby’ (shown below).
Like all of the rubies on sale in Singapore, the Rhino Ruby was extracted from the Montepuez mine in Mozambique, and is so named because its discovery will go towards protecting Rhinos in Africa from poaching. In total a staggering 62,936 karats worth of gemstones were sold at the auction, over 5 days from December 3rd to the 8th.
A valuable market for businesses…
Rough gemstone auctions are typically attended by businesses rather than consumers, who will then cut the stones into shape to eventually be used in a piece of jewellery. Because of this, they go for a much lower price than their cut and polished counterparts, but once attended to they can be very valuable indeed. 50 companies from countries including the UK, China, and Germany made bids on the auction, to get their hands on a valuable commodity.
Gemfields are remarkable in that their company places a strong focus on ethics. The sale of the Rhino Ruby is a great example, some of the money from which will help fund an anti-poaching plane. They also operate in a manner so as to remain within the law of the countries they’re in, and protect their workers and the environment.
To date Gemfields have extracted 11.3 million carats worth of ruby and corundum from Montepuez mine, and are planning another sale of rough rubies before June next year. Next year’s sale will contain much lower quality stones, so sadly is not expected to fetch as much revenue.
Valuable for the consumer too…
Gemstones have been a valuable commodity since the dawn of civilised society, thanks to their rarity and aesthetic value. Frequently used in jewellery, rare gemstones are the ultimate status symbol. They’re a reliable asset because their value is less at the mercy of the economy; if you own a rare gemstone, there’ll always be someone willing to buy it for a good price, recession or no recession.
To conclude, diamonds have seen a huge return on investment in recent years, particularly in London where there is an emerging market for these luxury assets. Some of the most successful pieces have gained investors millions of pounds. For example in 2013 the Winston Legacy Diamond sold for 23.6 million euros. In April 2017 the Pink Star Diamond sold for a colossal £57.3 million.
Although you might not be looking to make a record-breaking sum with your own investment, there is certainly plenty of profit to be made with a diamond investment. Plus diamonds can always surprise you, such as a diamond in 2013 which sold for over $10 million more than it’s expected value. As diamonds often create an emotional response, the right buyer might be prepared to invest far above what you were expecting. This means that buying the right diamond is essential.
How to find the right diamonds to invest in
Expert jewellers train for years to tell the difference between a quality, high-value diamond and lesser stones. Deciphering which diamonds are ‘investment-grade’ can be a challenge but it is more than possible to make a wise investment. Plus, diamonds don’t lose value when they are used, you can wear your diamonds once you have bought them and while you wait for the right moment to sell.
If you are looking for the right diamonds to invest, you will need to find a specialist to help. A specialist can help you find the right diamond with the right cut, clarity and current market value for you.
It’s worth considering different coloured diamonds as well, over the past ten years the value of blue diamonds has risen by well over 200% while more traditional white diamonds have increased in value by just 3%. It might be worth taking a punt on a less traditional option to make the most out of your investment in the long run.
A diamond and investment specialist will be able to guide you on the quality of diamonds but doing your research on market trends and considering how long you want to be invested in a diamond for, can help guide your decision making. Whether you are smoking a cigar in Barbados or enjoying the thrill of a fast ride in your Ferrari, do take the time to speak to a specialist…it will worth your time, we promise.
For example, diamonds which have recently achieved incredible sales have included the Pink Legacy diamond which sold last year for $50 million. Pink diamonds haven’t always been expected to achieve such a high return on investment, but this beautiful example of a ten carat pink diamond has broken world records for price per carat of a pink diamond and proves that if you find the right diamond, no matter its colour, you can make an impressive amount of capital.
Perhaps even more spectacular is Sotheby’s recent discovery of a flawless 102.34-carat white diamond. As a D grade diamond, it has no internal or external blemishes and is the purest form of diamond available.
Fine assets are always in big demand as prices at auctions around the world continue to grow every year. You may also want to read our comprehensive articles on most expensive items ever sold on auction for assets like fine wine collections, most expensive jewelry ever sold, expensive Cartier jewelry, luxury handbags, classic cars, diamonds , most expensive watches ever sold and art.
How to value a Diamond: The five C’s
Diamonds are also relatively unique in the sense that, despite making accurate valuations as to their worth, their bespoke desirability can greatly increase their value. So, before you decide to borrow against diamonds, you should first have an idea of how to value them yourself. This way, when you visit a pawnbroker, you know ahead of time that, firstly, your stones are valuable, and secondly, you’ll have some sort of idea what they are actually worth. Valuing a diamond is done by analysing a number of different criteria, which starts by examining each of the 4 Cs. For those taking their first steps into investing in diamonds, remember the five C’s to help guide you in making the right investment with the most potential for future growth.
Carat – the size of the diamond, this can have a huge impact on the value of the diamond and must be accurate.
Cut – mainly a point of taste, the cut of the diamond shouldn’t hamper its value too much but for short term investing it is worth considering current trends on the market.
Colour – as discussed above, although white diamonds are more traditional, coloured diamonds can have sudden growth in value so are worth considering.
Clarity – this point is less important for coloured stones but refers to how pure the stone is.
Certificate – this is perhaps the most crucial of the ‘C’s’ for investing as a certificate is essential for getting the best price when selling the diamond on.
The 4 Cs were first developed by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) to form the basis of how to carry out gemstone appraisal on diamonds. They are; clarity, carat, colour, and cut. You can read more on each of them below.
The clarity of a diamond can also be seen as its purity. Analysing a diamond’s clarity will mean examining all of the irregularities it holds both internally and externally. These internal flaws are known as inclusions, and external ones are called blemishes. It is not simply the number of these incursions or blemishes a diamond holds, but also the size of them, their positions, their colour and also their nature. Examining these flaws cannot be done with the naked eye and instead, they are looked at under 10x magnification. Afterwards, the diamond will be ranked on the GIA Clarity Scale:
– Internally Flawless (IF)
– Very Very Slightly Included (VVS1, VVS2)
– Very Slightly Included (VSI1, VSI2)
– Slightly Included (SI1, SI2)
– Included (I1, I2, I3)
Flawless would be the most valuable of diamonds with absolutely zero incursions or blemishes, and I3 would be the least valuable with a number of different flaws.
The carat scale is used to measure the weight of a diamond. The term carat comes from ancient times when people used Carob tree seeds to balance scales. As you would imagine, the more carats a diamond is, the more valuable it becomes. One carat translates into 200 milligrams, though when discussing carats, they are often standardised into a 100 points system. So for example, a 0.7-carat diamond would be 70 points. As mentioned earlier, however, there are certain circumstances which can make issuing loans against diamonds quite tricky.
Take the following example: if you have 2 identical diamonds which are 0.98 and 0.99 carat in weight respectively, then the 0.99 carat diamond would be worth 1% more. However, say you then had a third diamond which was again near identical but was 1.00 carat, it would likely be worth as much as 20% more than the 0.99 carat one. This is because of the human element of purchasing diamonds. Someone would pay a premium for a 1 carat diamond as they could state and have proof that it was 1 carat, whereas if you purchased a 0.99 carat diamond, you could never honestly claim it is 1 carat. These sudden surges in value occur at a number of points in the pricing scale of diamonds, such as at around 0.3, 0.5 and 0.7 carats.
Much like clarity, the colour of a diamond is ranked on a scale, known as the GIA Colour Scale. It works on the following system, with D being the clearest and most valuable, and Z being the least valuable.
– Colourless (D, E, F)
– Near Colourless (G, H, I, J)
– Faint (K, L, M)
– Very Light (N, O, P, Q, R)
– Light (S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z)
This scale is used for colourless diamonds. Of course, diamonds can come in different colours, such as yellow, black or blue, and these will affect their desirability. The GIA scale is therefore only used for colourless diamonds, whereas coloured diamonds are generally more valuable.
The cut of a diamond is the only part of the valuation process which is affected by human touch. All other aspects are determined by nature and how they were formed over thousands of years. The cut of a diamond is what decides how light will react with it, and how beautiful it will be to the human eye once complete. There are a number of different common designs for diamonds, and each one will have a different way of manipulating the following three areas.
- The fire – This is how white light gets scattered out into a number of different colours
- The brightness – How brightly light is reflected both internally and externally. The scintillation – The reflections within the diamond will produce patterns of dark and light areas.
- The final proportions and finish of the diamond will affect how light plays with the diamond and its final aesthetic appeal. Some common cuts of diamond include:
Other things to consider…
Sometimes referred to as the 5th C of valuing diamonds, a certificate is a valuable way of defining the exact and authentic quality of a certain diamond. These are very good to look out for as it gives you an immediate and trustworthy idea as to the exact value of your diamond. However, you should bear in mind that there are a number of different classifications of diamond certificates, and you may hold favourability over one or two. For example, the GIA certification system is known for being incredibly strict when designating a level of clarity. Here are some of the most famous certificates a diamond can hold:
– Gemological Institute of America (GIA)
– The International Gemological Institute (IGI)
– The Diamond High Council – Hoge Raad Voor Diamante (HRD)
– European Gemological Laboratory (EGL)
If a diamond has a laser inscription on it then the idea is that this represents a blemish and should, theoretically speaking, diminish its value. However, this is again another sign of how human preference can break the valuing methods. A personalised or unique message skillfully inscribed on the side can only be properly viewed by magnifying glass and ads a personal element which can be more highly sought after. You may also see certification ratings inscribed which will again, likely increase the value as it can be used to prove the authenticity and worth of the diamond. A certification can be lost, stolen or forged, but a laser imprinted message is undeniable.
What to avoid when investing in diamonds
Investing in diamonds requires finding the best experts to help you make the most of your money. But what about the things you should avoid? Here are three things to avoid when preparing to invest.
1) Paying too much
Do your research so that you know how much to expect to pay. Going to the right place to invest will mean that you are getting the best price for a diamond as an investment. Speak to the specialists you know you can trust and make sure the investment is right for you.
2) Expecting an instant return on investment
Diamonds are a fantastic way to invest money, but the process requires patience. They offer long term security and a great way to boost a long term investment portfolio. They are less likely to instantly gain value and aren’t a ‘get rich quick’ scheme. Diamonds are for the long term investor, looking for ways to diversify their portfolio.
3) Buying the wrong diamond
We’ve already covered the five C’s and it really is important to consider these when choosing which diamond or diamonds to invest in. It’s also important to decide whether to take a risk on quirkier diamonds, such as coloured diamonds, which can see sudden spikes in value but which could be seen as ‘trendier’ rather than classic diamonds. It all depends on the longevity of your investment and how much you have to invest. Always get the advice of a specialist and take your time considering before making your purchase.
Diamonds are a wonderful investment resource. They are one of the few ways that you can invest, expert a high return and enjoy the investment at the same time, as you can wear your diamonds as they gain value.
Although investing in diamonds is a multi-faceted way of making money, it is a safe one. Diamonds will always be in demand and if you are willing to wait you can make an impressive return on investment.
Understanding the emerging investment diamond market
It’s official: precious stones are a great investment, according to one of the UK’s most prominent banking platforms.
The Royal Bank of Scotland recently ran an article focusing on the investment potential of gems, featuring contributions from several vintage jewellery brand directors. The firm also sought the expertise of David Sonnenthal, the founder and director of New Bond Street Pawnbrokers, to uncover why precious stones are such a viable investment.
The article looks at the different factors to consider before investing in gems, and highlights the fact that in recent years, increasing numbers of diamonds are being sold as investment assets.
Part of the reason why it makes sense to invest in precious stones lies in the fact that they are long-lasting. The near-indestructible properties of certain stones and the financial stability in the market means that increasing numbers of hedge funds are considering diversifying their portfolios with gemstones – with some experts pointing to stability as a main concern, particularly in a world of increasing political and social uncertainty.
Demand is currently high for the best quality diamonds. These “investment diamonds” are accepted by Rapaport – the world’s leading trading platform for gemstones – only if they meet strict criteria. Diamonds must be ranked with a clarity rating of at least VS2 and a colour grade of at least H.
The cut of the diamond is also important when it comes to investment diamonds – each of which must be certified by the Gemological Institute of America before being accepted by the world’s biggest platform for diamond trading.
Naturally-coloured diamonds command the best prices. At present, larger, natural diamonds are selling for record-breaking sums at auction – smaller pink diamonds can fetch up to £30,000 per carat, for example. Diamonds treated to appear a certain colour are not quite as valuable, however.
Know what to look for
It’s an age-old adage, but the crux of the article seems to be: if it looks too good to be true, then it probably is. Diamond investors should be wary of diamonds advertised with a colour in inverted commas – ‘blue’ diamonds for example – as this is typically an indicator that the diamond has been treated. While such items may still be classifiable as natural, they are usually lower in clarity and subsequently irradiated to obtain a more marketable colour.
Making a wise purchase
Noting that the market for diamonds has risen by 20 per cent in the last year alone, David Sonnenthal of New Bond Street Pawnbrokers had plenty of advice to impart to RBS on the prospect of investing in precious stones, including the following:
• While prices can and do fluctuate, diamonds will rise in value – provided the purchaser has bought it as close to market price as is possible.
• It’s not always possible to get close to market price, but anything between 25% to 30% over current market value still makes for a viable asset.
• Brands such as De Beers and Graff are firmly in control of the market, on account of owning some of the best stones on the planet.
• Don’t rush into purchases without doing some research.
Transforming loose stones
It’s possible to purchase stones with the intention of turning them into finished jewellery pieces for sale at an auction house or retail outlet, and the addition of platinum or gold can even have a positive effect on the price you can command. However, those purchasing stones for investment are advised to keep them loose.
To gain more of an insight into the emerging investment diamond market, you can read the original article – complete with expert analysis from David Sonnenthal – by clicking here.
Why fine jewellery can be an excellent investment in 2020
Diamonds aren’t necessarily a girl’s best friend, but they may be an important part of her assets and high up in the friendship rankings. If you’re looking for an investment opportunity slightly off the beaten track, jewellery might be one avenue that you haven’t considered.
For many people, their jewellery is often handed down through family with pieces passing from mother to daughter over multiple generations. These family heirlooms are often imbued with historical family legends and carry huge emotional significance. This means many of these amazing pieces may never be sold willingly. However, when a good piece of jewellery does come to market, do you know what you’re looking for and what would be a good investment?
Can jewellery increase in value?
Jewellery has a tendency to appreciate in value over time and the savvy investor can turn the unwanted jewels of another family into something profitable for their portfolio. But it comes with a few caveats and it’s important to know what you’re doing when it comes to collecting jewellery.
The first thing to remember is that it is unwise to buy from a high-street store. Retailers often impose a 100% mark up that doesn’t include the wholesale margin, and VAT is an additional expense passed onto the customer. This means if you buy a piece of jewellery in a shop today for £200, you’d be lucky to be able to sell it for £50 or £60 tomorrow. If you’re looking to make a profit as an investor, you will need to do your research and buy second hand or low cost at auctions.
The key is to know what you’re looking for.
The price of desirable vintage jewellery has gone up 80% in the last ten years. The best returns on investment have come from two particular design eras: the Art Deco period (1914-1935) and the Belle Epoque period (1870-1914).
Art Deco emerged from France in the mid-twenties and typically incorporates platinum and diamond. Pieces tend to have very strong and striking designs that were inspired by cubism and still look modern and stylish today. Designers like Cartier, Van Cleef and Arpels are all highly sought after by the discerning collector as their pieces are usually of incredibly high quality.
The Belle Epoque (The Beautiful Era) was a period of relative stability across Western Europe between the Franco-Prussian war and the First World War. As European empires extended their tendrils into Africa, the supply of precious gemstones began to increase and designers expanded their ranges.
Competitive designers would try and outdo each other and became experts at working with gold and platinum, frequently setting small diamonds into lacy structures to create timeless pieces that were designed to feel weightless. They’re not to everyone’s taste and can sometimes look quite fussy to the modern eye, but many pieces have held their value and turned good profits.
How do you spot fine jewellery?
Often designers would hide their marks discretely inside links. This can make them difficult to spot at first, but finding a designer’s mark can double or even treble the value. These marks are often very well hidden, invisible to the naked eye and will need to be verified by an expert who knows exactly what to look for and where.
The value of jewellery from both these epochs has skyrocketed in recent years and is up almost 90% from 2006. That is a huge return on any investment and jewellery tends to be unaffected by the ravages of geopolitical problems, unlike stocks and shares which can be tumultuous at best.
Designers that investors love to target include Boucheron, Bulgari, Belperron and Chaumet as well as Chanel, Cartier, Lalique and Tiffany. If you’re thinking about investing in jewellery, researching these designers and their companies would be an excellent starting place.
Fine jewellery is an art form that adds beauty and panache to the everyday world and has the power to make the wearer feel special and even more confident. But if you are in need of extra funds and have some jewellery that has become less of a statement piece for your business drinks look and more of space-filler for a drawer in your bedroom, then taking out a loan against the value of your pieces might be the right option for you.
Naturally, you need to have a good idea whether your necklace, cufflinks or rings are actually valuable. So, what exactly should you be looking for?
Desirability of the designers
Jewellery is a fine craft, one that requires both aesthetic sensibility in the design process and artisanal skills when working with precious metals and gemstones. As such, much like fine art, pieces that are the work of a renowned jeweller, designer or are part of a sought-after collection are highly desirable and can command higher prices than mass-produced items.
Famous design houses such as Bulgari, Tiffany, and Cartier are just a few examples of current companies that produce fine items of jewellery that sell for many thousands, but historic items can be equally as desirable if they were made by a reputed jeweller or designer. If you believe that your piece of jewellery is from a prestige brand, whether old or new, then checking the piece and any cases or boxes for branding and logos is essential. Preliminary internet research of unfamiliar names and symbols can help give you an idea of the designer or collection before coming in to speak with our team for an expert appraisal.
Quality of the materials
With the word ‘jewellery’ itself being derived from the moniker for precious stones, it is no surprise that the value of such pieces is dictated hugely by the metals, stones and other materials they are composed of. However, more modestly priced jewellery can often be constructed from materials that emulate the appearance of their more valuable counterparts. Gold flake, cubic zirconia, plated silver – these materials can make your jewellery look far more expensive and valuable than it actually is.
Texture and weight can often give you an initial idea as to whether an item is genuine – metal jewellery that feels incredibly light, or pearls that feel unnaturally smooth, for example, can be an indicator of cheaper materials such as plastic or glass. But if you believe that the jewellery you own is constructed from gold, silver, platinum or contains a precious gemstone, then making sure of the authenticity of these materials is paramount. But luckily, there is an easy way to find out – and the key lies on the jewellery itself!
The vast majority of any item crafted out of genuine gold will come bearing a hallmark (a small symbol stamped into the metal itself). This will tell you a raft of information as these stamps will have different icons and text depending on the maker, the date and how many karats the item is – although you may need to resort to more internet research to uncover the code.
These hallmarks are not just for gold however, and almost all precious stones and metals will bear a mark of authenticity, each with their own symbolic conventions. You yourself do not need to know what the hallmark means, as this is something we can do, but looking for one is an easy way to estimate whether your piece is as valuable as it appears to be.
Provenance is the proof of authenticity of your jewellery, such as where it was made, purchased, and whether it has ever been repaired or altered. Especially with rare items or collections, having written proof of origin in the form of certificates or documentation can dramatically increase the amount that you can borrow against.
When you decide to bring in your piece of fine jewellery to have it appraised and valued, bringing this documentation along with you can help speed up the process and provide you with a far more accurate valuation.
Evidence of provenance and purchase is key to securing a potentially high-profit piece. If there is a strong story attached to the original designer or owner, then the jewellery increases in both collectability and potential profit. Wherever possible, documentation proving the authenticity of the piece and where it was bought should be obtained. All stories about the jewellery will need to be independently verified.
If you’re forward focussed then you might want to consider looking at contemporary designers. If you have a good eye then you may be able to invest in high-quality designers at the start of their careers. This is obviously more of a gamble, but the designer pieces of today are the collectable historical pieces of the future. Your grandchildren may thank you.
There is one last plus when collecting jewellery. Quite simply, it was designed to be worn and to be appreciated. Whether you have a great grandmother’s engagement ring or a turn of the century designer necklace, there’s something wonderful about being able to wear your investments as they appreciate in value. You can’t do that with stocks and shares!
The difference between estate, vintage and antique jewellery
What’s the difference between estate, vintage and antique jewellery? Whether you have nostalgic items locked away as keepsakes, heirlooms in the safe or just pieces you have accrued over time, you could be sitting on assets worth thousands. You have probably heard the terms estate, vintage and antique applied to jewellery, but what are they and how can you tell what your pieces are?
Remember that this is just a guide. Please do contact us at New Bond Street Pawnbrokers for a full assessment and valuation.
Estate jewellery is often an umbrella term for any jewellery that has been previously owned, although dealers tend to limit its usage to the last thirty years in order to distinguish between vintage and antique pieces.
Although often referring to jewellery handed down after the death of an individual (i.e. that individual’s ‘estate’), estate jewellery is usually any pre-owned collectable and valuable piece. Imagine you divorced and sold your ten-year-old diamond engagement ring and eight-year-old gold wedding band. Both pieces, although not very old, would still be valuable and therefore would be what a dealer would consider ‘estate’.
Estate jewellery could refer to an entire collection owned by a member of aristocracy, in which case it could be worth much more. Sometimes pieces are missing from collections from long deceased Lords and Ladies and often turn up in the hands of descendants of their workforce, having been gifted from mistress to servant.
The value is determined by the manufacturer, the material and the gemstones. It could also be determined by the previous owners of the pieces and their historical, cultural or social appeal. Here is where an expert’s eye is needed. Contact us for a complete assessment of your jewellery.
The abundantly used term ‘vintage’ seems to apply to almost anything these days – one can even purchase ‘vintage style’ clothing and cars. However, for a piece of jewellery to be considered ‘vintage’, it has to be over 20-30 years old and is usually part of mass production.
This does not detract from its value, however. Think about your grandmother’s engagement ring from the 1940s. It undoubtedly has large set valuable gemstones such as sapphire or emerald. It is likely to be of a heavy yellow gold. It might even have diamond clusters. It might not be to contemporary tastes, but it still has value.
Likewise, some costume jewellery can be highly collectable (and therefore valuable) if it captures the zeitgeist of a particular age. Think 1980s power-dressing clip-on earrings with diamante or 1950s coral stone brooches.
The distinction between vintage and antique can often be blurred. It is highly possible that the 19th-century gold necklace you have coveted was made during the Industrial Revolution when Queen Victoria set the trends and mass production was coming into fruition. In itself, this necklace carries with it historical significance, even though it is far from one of a kind. However, many dealers will consider a piece over 100 years old to be antique, rather than vintage, often just to demonstrate the age of the piece.
Pieces identified as ‘vintage’ can sell from anywhere between £100 and £40,000.
If you suspect your piece is vintage, rather than antique, then it is worth having it valued by one of our experts as it could still be worth a great deal more than you initially thought.
The term ‘antique’ usually refers to anything that is over a hundred years old. So this could include pieces as late as the turn of the century – maybe some of your great grandmother’s jewellery?
‘Antique’ usually has connotations of beauty or rarity. Antique jewellery will often fall within a particular period of manufacture such as Victorian, Georgian, Edwardian or Art Deco. It is unlikely to have been mass produced and is likely to have been crafted carefully by a prominent designer and craftsperson of the era.
Usually distinguishable by a maker’s mark, antique jewellery carries with it the hallmark of quality. Pieces are often desirable and, for some, collectable. Specific manufacturers at certain times in history can carry more value, as can pieces where there are imperfections that add, rather than detract, from the beauty of the piece.
Antique pieces from abroad can also carry greater value than those from the UK – think Indian rubies or African diamonds from colonial times. These were likely to have been hand-extracted from mines and undoubtedly carry their own stories.
Jewellery items labelled as ‘antique’ can fetch anything from the thousands to the millions. If you think your piece is antique, we would very much like to hear from you. You could have a small gold mine in your safe!
How to Value Fine Jewellery?
Experts spend many years learning about fine jewellery, and the market that it is sold within, and your assessments won’t be as accurate as theirs. However, by following the same steps they do, you can come to some sort of approximate valuation before seeking professional help.
Assessing and accurately valuing pieces of fine jewellery usually comes down to a four-step process. Follow each of these steps to assess the value of your jewellery.
The design of your jewellery is important, but an assessment of the materials themselves is an essential step of valuing your jewellery. Pieces made from high-quality materials, such as yellow gold and flawless pearls are likely to be more valuable simply due to the quality of material used to make them. If any materials are of lower quality or apparent forgeries, then this will significantly cut into the value of the piece. With more complex and intricate pieces of jewellery, each of the component materials will be individually appraised.
Having the name of a prestigious jewellery manufacturer attached to your piece can add significant value to it. Manufacturers like Van Cleef and Arpels, Stephen Webster, Buccellati, Tiffany and Co, and Boucheron are all highly respected and are known for their top quality craftsmanship. If any pieces are made by such manufacturers and are in great condition with a certain degree of rarity, then you can expect it to be worth much more. Other well-respected jewellery manufacturers include Lalique, Cartier, Graff, Chaumet and Bulgari, though there are plenty of other top names that we will accept.
Offering loans against gemstones is a fine art all unto itself, as there are various categories which we use to appraise high-quality gemstones. For example, when looking at issuing loans on diamond jewellery, we will look extensively at the 4 C’s. This refers to a diamond’s clarity, carat, cut and colour. Being able to properly analyse each of the 4Cs requires years of experience and an in-depth understanding of the various grading scales and valuation tools available. If your fine jewellery contains a number of fine gemstones, then our appraisers will take great care and pleasure in having them properly valued for you. As with other materials, the quality of the gemstones in your piece can have a huge impact on the overall price, for good or ill.
With any asset we appraise, we will require certification and provenance documentation to ensure the legitimacy of your piece. Certificates of authenticity add greater certainty and value to any piece, and make any arrangement less risky for us as a lender. Such documents include proof of purchase, service history, and any precious stone certificates of authenticity and value. Precious stones like diamonds often come with certificates issued by leading diamond institutions from around the world, such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), American Gem Society (AGS) or Diamond High Council (DHC). Many precious stones are far more highly sought after if they can be traced back to their country of origin. If you possess such documents explaining the exact quality and worth of your fine stones, then this can help you secure higher jewellery collateral loans.
For many, diamonds are the quintessential vintage item, and are always popular. Not only do these stones hold their value over time, they can also appreciate in value by approximately 1.5% per annum, depending on the origin of the stone. Correctly valuing a diamond revolves around the famous ‘Four Cs’. These are:
This details the shape of the stone, focusing on how the diamond has been shaped to make it more desirable. The cut will take into consideration the brilliance, fire and scintillation of the item, with a key source of value being the compromise between the class of the cut and the natural properties of the stone, which combine to maximise the beauty of the item.
This measures the inherent imperfections in the diamond and grades the stone accordingly. Clarity ranks from the incredibly rare ‘FL’ (‘flawless’ – the stone contains no visible blemishes or marks under x10 magnification) to ‘I’ (‘included’ – the stone contains highly visible marks, scratches, or inherent flaws, which are visible to the naked eye).
This is graded by the GIA to a set colour scale from the desirable ‘colourless’ (bright white) to the less valuable ‘light colour’ (a yellowish hue). However, this can be a little harder to discern when the diamond is in a ring or otherwise mounted.
This is a measure of the diamond’s weight, with a contemporary carat worth approximately 0.2 grams. This is one of the key arbiters of a diamond’s inherent value, as an increase in carat size directly corresponds to an increase in value. If you want to pawn your diamonds, you can expect to get a particularly good price for anything which has been graded at five carats or above.
Other elements that can raise the value of any precious stones include the mounting material itself. Precious metals, such as gold, have seen a huge run in popularity following the economic instability which was stoked by 2016’s Brexit vote.
While distinct gems can also raise the value of the item, individual stones are often supplementary to the design of the piece, rather than holding distinct value like diamonds, working as a value-add to the piece.
Ultimately, one of the greatest challenges in finding quality jewellery is that older, more valuable stones are often removed and re-set into new mounts. So, even if you have a relatively new piece of jewellery, it is often worth seeking an appraisal to check the pedigree of your central stone.
What types of jewellery are worth more?
Like art, the value of a quality piece of jewellery is worth far more than the sum of its individual parts. Items from various eras carry different returns, but the following styles carry the greatest interest and value in the current market:
Instantly recognisable due to their ornate and almost ostentatious nature, jewellery from the pre-WW1 era is ornate and bounteous. Advances in technology and craftsmanship resulted in garlands and weaves set in platinum and gold, adorned with diamonds and inset jewels. Firmly nestled in the Titanic era, the appetite for these items continues to grow.
Known for combining flashness and angularity, the cubist-inspired items offer the modern market something that is at once antique and very modern. Still selling well today, the jewellery’s glamour and brash confidence fits in perfectly with today’s modern lifestyle.
Bringing everything together
When it comes to accurately valuing your jewellery, it’s imperative to look for the subtle, almost hidden signs of quality. Many named brands will have their stamps or insignias hidden away in hard to spot areas, such as the base of settings or the underside of links or bandings. With many items appreciating in value due to the power of the name alone, these top-tier companies will also have access to the highest quality items, resources and skilled personnel, to make sure that the item’s constituent parts are quality.
Some brand names to look out for include Boucheron, Van Cleef and Arples, Harry Winston, and Chale. However, older styles of jewellery are often extremely hard to come by, due to major names buying up their old stock to retain value. Companies, such as Cartier, pride themselves on the fact that their items have never gone on auction for less than original price, a fact which can help drive up the value of jewellery that has been in your possession for a long time.
Each of these four factors will make a piece of jewellery valuable on its own, but if your asset has a combination of two or more of these, that’s when you could have a significantly valuable piece on your hands. A fully certified piece with high-quality gemstones and materials, made by one of the world’s premier jewellery manufacturers could be worth a great deal indeed.
We offer loans against the following types of diamonds: 2 carat, baguette cut, blue diamonds, cushion cut, emerald cut, fancy color, marquise cut, old cut, oval cut, pear cut, pink, princess cut, and GIA certified diamonds. Similarly, some of the many loans we offer are against various types of fine jewellery: diamond earrings, diamond necklaces, diamond rings, and fine brands of diamond jewelery such as Graff, Van Cleef & Arpels, Bulgari, Harry Winston , Tiffany and Cartier to name just a few.
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