Bonhams’ shift to online jewellery sales draws in new, younger clients

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Bonhams’ shift to online jewellery sales has brought in new and younger clients, the auction house said.

This year Bonhams increased its digital capabilities and was quick to embrace remote sales. The jewellery department found its buyers and consignors in particular were predisposed towards buying and selling online. Leslie Roskind, Head of Jewellery in Hong Kong, says, “This proved to be an effective way to both engage our existing clients and to attract new, especially younger, clients worldwide.”

Bonhams debuted a new series of online-only sales entitled ‘Luxury Online’ in May, first in Hong Kong and subsequently across all locations.

The auction house has since hosted 10 in this format, eight of which took place in Hong Kong.

The new initiative combines jewellery with watches and other luxury categories such as handbags, offering a one-stop shopping experience.

The series attracted a new audience to Bonhams – over 40% of buyers were new to Bonhams and about a third of the bidders under 40 years old.

A highlight of these sales was a 7.41ct F-colour diamond single-stone ring which sold for HK$875,6250, on 7 October 2020. This demonstrates that buyers have the confidence to acquire higher value, fine jewellery pieces online, and not just shop for everyday essentials.

Online sales in 2021 

Leslie Roskind adds, “While undoubtedly there will still be a place for traditional auctions in the saleroom, the fast-tracked digital route in 2020 has already changed and will continue to change the way in which jewellery collectors spend.”  

Bonhams will see an increase in online-only sales, such as Luxury Online, in 2021 supporting the offline offering of the auction house.

JEWELS TAKING CENTRE STAGE IN 2020 

Over the last couple of years, Bonhams has seen record-breaking prices achieved for exceptional gemstones and diamonds, and in 2020 a number of important stones achieved prices well over their top estimates, reaffirming a continuing demand from collectors for the very best coloured gemstones.

Kashmir sapphires 

This year Bonhams New York was entrusted with selling three exceptional Kashmir sapphires, which together achieved over US$2.7 million.

In July, a 9.23ct Superb Kashmir Sapphire sold for US$1,244,075 against a pre-sale estimate of US$475,000 – 775,000, and a 6.95ct Fine Kashmir Sapphire sold for US$381,325 against a pre-sale estimate of $250,000 – 450,000. Both these sapphires were consigned in Australia and had been in the same family for over 100 years.

Kashmir Sapphire

Rounding out the year was A Superb Kashmir Sapphire and Diamond Brooch, circa 1910, that sold in New York for US$1,110,312, surpassing the pre-sale estimate of US$500,000 – 800,000. This Kashmir was rich in American history and had also been in the same family for more than 100 years.