How have auction houses evolved in recent years?
The client experience has improved considerably along with the extent of auction offers. Sotheby’s has broadened the definition of luxury to include categories such as handbags, sneakers, sports memorabilia and even bikes at auctions which would have traditionally only featured fine jewelry and watches. The rapid integration of digital at auction houses such as Sotheby’s has greatly impacted the way we now do business in order to provide a much more dynamic and efficient end-to-end service to increasingly dynamic and efficient customers. People can quite literally be lying by the pool on holiday while bidding live on an Art Deco Cartier brooch or a 30ct D Flawless diamond in Geneva/Hong Kong/New York. This has been a game-changer for all parties – clients and auction houses alike.
How would you define the last decade for the jewelry market?
This has been a period of exceptional worldwide growth. We have seen a rise in the importance of the Asian collector as well as the emergence and establishment of a growing number of ground-breaking, contemporary jewelers who have redefined jewelry tradition and norms. And I would add that, among the key trends of the past decade, jewelry, and “super-stones” in particular, have become part of a diversified portfolio for multi-category collectors, especially those collecting contemporary art.
The Bulgari Blue modelled by Priyanka Chopra at the Met Gala (mounted on a necklace) in May, the Bulgari's most valuable jewel ever sold at auction
What was the biggest revolution in the luxury retail scene?
There have been several factors and game-changers but social media and Instagram are the most significant. However, I think that the single most pertinent development in the luxury retail scene for auction houses came at the end of this past decade with the increase in online interactions with clients. Covid accelerated this interaction model which has only grown in importance and sophistication ever since.
What is needed to stay even more competitive in the future?
I think the inclination towards more original and distinctive jewelry will continue – people like differentiation and the ultimate appeal of bespoke – and I think we will see more and more contemporary jewelry. To stay competitive, I believe we must keep our eyes and ears open and listen to what people are asking for. Listening intently to clients, reflecting their needs and concerns together with customer service are what makes the difference. We are in the service industry after all, so providing every client with a seamless experience that goes beyond expectations is what we are striving to deliver every day.
The Attallah cross bought by Kim Kardashian from the Royal and Noble sale at £163,800 from an estimate of £80,000-120,000.