Is the jewelry auction market impacted by trends and economic crises?
Firstly, jewels are a pleasure purchase, and not a speculative product. But it can be a good investment for some very special items, like signed pieces, unique pieces, or those from the Art Déco period, and jewelry from the 1950s and 1960s are truly popular. Today, jewels from well-known jewelers like Van Cleef & Arpels or Cartier sell for a lot at auction. For example, we had nice brooch from Van Cleef, 'la ballerine', which was estimated to be worth between 15,000 and 20,000 euros. It sold for 125,000 euros in January. Another one sold for 189,900 euros in July and it had been estimated at being worth between 60,000 and 80,000 euros. But that's a rare occurrence, because, over the long-term, jewelry prices are typically quite level. Except for diamonds and colored stones like rubies or sapphire, because they a very special part of the market. The jewelry auction market does not really feel changes in the economy. Many people have jewels to sell, and many people love to buy jewels. But one very important thing is, as with the rest of the art market, the middle range is not so easy to sell today, except for 'very rare' pieces, which can be worth a lot.
In terms of auctions, how are the Mena or Far East markets positioned?
Mena is not a strong target market for our auction house, because we have many representatives in Europe, but not in that particular area for the moment. This market is more important for brands like Cartier, Harry Winston, and other big ones, but maybe less so for the antique and second-hand markets. However, the Far East is a real new strong market, especially with Chinese clients. We notice that a new generation of jewelry lovers and collectors is growing. There is interest from French people for important signed jewels.
What jewelry pieces make the best investments?
All the antique items from the jewelers of the Place Vendôme, even more so if the item comes from a collection with history and well-know origin (like a star, for example, Elizabeth Taylor), for sure it's a good investment. In terms of gemstones, rubies from Burma, sapphires from Kashmir, natural pearls are increasingly rare, high-quality diamonds, and some colored diamonds, pink or blue.
What are the most expensive three or four pieces that you have sold?
A Van Cleef & Arpels ring set with a 16.87-carat, pear-shaped diamond (D color, IF clarity) for 1,737,800 euros. A fancy vivid blue pear-shaped diamond ring (2.39 carats, which sold for 1,799,800 euros). A nineteenth-century antique diamond necklace from Chaumet, which sold for 641,000 euros. A pair of natural pearls earrings, which sold for 685,000 euros.
How many jewelry auctions do you hold each year?
Twice a year in Monte Carlo for magnificent jewelry — in January at the Yacht Club de Monaco and in July at Hotel Hermitage. And twice a year for middle-range jewels in Paris at the Hotel Dasault, in April and November. We chose Monaco for our important auctions because it's a strategic place for the luxury and international market. Even Paris is a very important place for the fine-arts market, but Monaco is still the place to be for the rich and beautiful. For twelve years now our have auctions become a 'rendezvous' for buying luxury items, like jewels, watches and Hermès vintage. We have also started to hold motorcar auctions and, since our first auction two years ago, it has also been a big success.