Fine Jewelry

A Beginner’s Guide To Investing In Fine Jewelry And Watches

Clockwise from top left: gold, emerald and diamond ring, Amrapali; gold, lapis lazuli and diamond earrings, Irene Neuwirth; ‘Panthère De Cartier’ gold watch, Cartier; ‘Hepburn’ gold, sapphire and diamond bracelet, Anita Ko; gold, emerald and diamond earrings, Suzanne Kalan; gold and diamond bangle, Piaget

The best fine-jewelry purchases are often driven by love and longing, but some treasures may prove to be astute investments, too. Here, CHARLIE BOYD speaks to Artcurial’s auction-house experts to reveal how to curate a financially savvy collection

Photography Vicki King

Track trends that could gain a cult following

Alice Léger, Artcurial’s specialist in fashion and luxury accessories, compares the re-sale of fine jewelry and watches to that of pre-owned luxury bags. “The most collectible pieces are unique one-offs or limited editions, made with a rare type of leather, in a sought-after or custom-made color, and on the market in pristine condition,” she says. Indeed, brand, rarity, quality and provenance are key factors to consider when investing in both, so seek out mini trends that may develop a cult following later – such as this season’s penchant for mini bags: the smaller the bag, the more it may achieve at auction. A cohesive collection dedicated to unusual gemstones or unique pieces by leading designers can be a great place to start.

Learn the value of different materials

When considering which gemstones and precious metals to invest in, there are several safe bets, but also a couple of wild cards. “Rare white and colored diamonds, together with colored gemstones from historic mines – including Kashmir sapphires, Burmese rubies and Colombian emeralds – retain their value best,” explains Julie Valade, head of Artcurial’s jewelry department. The market price of these materials is, however, affected by their quality and the condition in which they have been preserved, so it’s important to ensure your jewelry storage is optimized to protect pieces and safeguard their value. Where women’s watches are concerned, diamond-set pieces tend to be more valuable, but more unusual materials and models can fetch the highest price. “Some of the strongest prices in our ladies’ watch auctions are achieved by Piaget yellow-gold cuffs and sautoirs with hardstone dials,” explains Marie Sanna, head of Artcurial’s watch department.

Look for limited editions

As a basic rule, rare pieces command strong prices. “In the past six years, we have seen prices for fine timepieces grow quickly, fueled by an ever-growing international demand for rare, high-quality watches,” says Sanna. Since the pandemic, watch sales have soared and many maisons have struggled to ensure manufacturing levels stay in sync with demand, making limited and unusual models even more exclusive and rarefied. Keep up with market trends, too – thanks to the stability and growth of yellow-gold prices during difficult economic times, a yellow-gold watch is a savvy investment, so seek out eternally elegant styles, such as Cartier’s ‘Panthère De Cartier’.

Choose brands wisely

Your choice of brand should be front of mind when investing in fine jewelry and watches. “Piaget, Cartier and Bulgari are the most sought-after brands on the market for ladies’ watches, while maisons such as Boucheron, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Chopard also drive strong sales,” says Sanna. “In the past four years, we have seen prices for rare vintage models by these brands multiply by three, sometimes five [times].” When buying vintage jewelry or watches, it also helps to be mindful of hallmarking and signatures, too. “Pieces signed by the most prestigious houses tend to sell for much higher prices than similar designs that are unsigned,” explains Valade.

Collect popular period jewels

Certain periods of jewelry design continue to thrive over others, with art deco pieces from the 1920s and 1930s hailed as some of the most sought-after on the market. “We have also seen strong demand for jewels from the 1940s and 1960s recently,” adds Valade. “Bold, fun, colorful, and in yellow gold, they are easier to wear and resonate with today’s collectors,” she adds. Indeed, art deco design codes continue to inspire a host of cool and contemporary fine jewelers today, who are creating heirlooms of the future with their timeless elegance. There are, of course, individual icons that will always stand the test of time, too, such as the Cartier ‘Tank’, which often achieves record prices at auction.


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