They are transforming from purveyors of inaccessible fine jewelry and watches to treasure troves for the young, with a little help from digital platforms and social media influencers. Four of the most authoritative voices from the main International auction houses, tell us what’s happening on this market.
Head of Jewelry, Chiswick Auctions
Having followed the growth of the demi-fine jewelry category, London’s Chiswick Auctions spotted a gap in the market to bring niche jewelers into the salesroom. It recently achieved a “white glove” sale for British-American jeweler Catherine Prevost, renowned for her bold, carved stone rings. «Clearly, demand is out there for designers suited to a younger collector’s market, so why not bring that into the auction format?», Sarah states. Digital platforms have also been essential for Chiswick Auctions to reach new clients, in particular through dedicated Instagram profiles. «Auctions are a great way for younger clients to maximise investing both financially and emotionally in art and antiques. You might not be able to walk into a shop to purchase certain designers such as JAR, Cindy Chao or Hemmerle. But they can be acquired at auction».
Associate Director of Jewelry, Artcurial
French auction house Artcurial won global media attention in the spring of 2018, when it hosted the world’s first auction for cult streetwear brand Supreme, achieving around $1 million in sales. Having captured younger luxury collectors’ attention, its jewellery department has just launched its first online-only auction to make bidding easier and open to all. It also plans to expand its guest curator programme for jewellery, with alumni that include jeweller Elie Top, photographer Koto Bolofo, and Sarah Andelman, founder of concept store Colette. «That’s one of the ways that we grow our audience in- ternationally and reach peo- ple who don’t know anything about auctions,» Julie explains. «It’s no longer just about Art Deco jewels, nice stones or Place Vendôme names. Younger people have a major interest in vintage jewels from the 1970s as well as anonymous pieces.»
Head of Jewelry for the Americas, Phillips
«As an auction house, Phillips is quite unique. It strives to keep a finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the market and engaging with the public in new ways,» Susan explains. «It’s important that we constantly bring new people through our doors.» This approach was illustrated by Jewels Now, two 2018 exhibitions hosted by Phillips, each dedicated to work by new-generation jewelers Lauren Adriana and Ana Khouri. «These public-facing exhibitions and concurrent panel discus- sions encouraged participation and conversation, while exposing the audience to something completely new.» Positively, the two shows also piqued the interest of other young talents. «Following the exhibitions, several important emerging jewelry artists ap- proached us to discuss something similar, so we are also planning more instalments of the Jewels Now series next year.»
founder of GEMOLOGUE and Sotheby’s collaborator
With a core following aged between 20 and 40, jewelry influencer Liza Urla has been a fitting partner for Sotheby’s in London, helping the auction house to reach both a wider and younger audience. Alongside curating a number of Sotheby’s Millennial-friendly online jewellery auctions, Liza has also used her social media presence to promote the price and sustainability benefits of buying at auction. «I have written a guide about online jewelry auctions to explain the process to my 300,000 followers,» she notes. The partnership has also allowed Sotheby’s to tap into the current retail zeitgeist. «Buying something from an auction house is an experience, and the current generation value experiences above all,» Liza states. «Plus auction houses o er unique jewelry, whether it’s Grima and Nardi or breathtaking 1970s pieces by Bulgari and Cartier.»