Myint-Myint Thein, a successful London-based antique jewellery and gem dealer and valuer, says signed and gold items are holding their value best during the lockdown.
Myint-Myint (known as MiMi) tells Jewellery Outlook editor David Brough that she likes buying gold pieces because even if she can’t sell them, the scrap value is likely to go up during the current coronavirus-fuelled crisis. She also said that she is receiving more enquiries for her items for sale, as brick-and-mortar stores are shuttered.
MiMi, tell me about your daily non-work routine during lockdown, and about how your life has changed.
I used to go out for dinner with friends two to three times a week. I’d always be going out to events and to the theatre, but now I’m stuck at home during these difficult times.
My life has changed significantly — no more getting dressed up or wearing makeup or doing my nails. I am doing more exercise at home. I cook healthy, delicious cuisine more now and there’s a lot less time wasted travelling.
Life is less intense, but I have mixed emotions.
And what about your work? How has your routine changed under lockdown? What are you doing more, and what are you doing less?
I work even more now than before.
Online sales increased since all my customers are also stuck at home doing online shopping which is an advantage.
Luckily shipping is still working so I can still send pieces to my clients.
I will be buying more second hand and antique jewellery and watches, as opposed to new jewellery.
Before the pandemic, I was about to start a new jewellery business – high-end jewellery consisting of 18-carat gold or platinum with fine gemstones – but I’ve delayed this plan until further notice as I wait for the market to gain stability.
How are you participating in auctions these days? Presumably they have shifted online?
Yes, they have shifted but some auction houses were already holding online auctions anyway. Hence it’s always been a part of regular activity.
I do still buy from online auctions, but I can’t physically inspect the items. Hence I’ve started buying more branded items to be on the safe side — and I am relying on the auctioneer’s condition report.
How, in your view, has the auctions market adapted to the “new normal”? Are prices holding, or are there new bargains? What types of products hold their value best during the lockdown?
Holding second hand and antique gold jewellery is the best for me because as a dealer, I can buy nearer to the scrap gold price, and even if I can’t sell the pieces, they will still hold their value and there are more chances of the gold price increasing during this period.
How are online portals for buying and selling vintage watches and jewellery doing? What has changed since the lockdown began?
I receive a lot more online enquiries than before. I am selling more during the lockdown.
I can sell vintage watches during the lockdown, and I will continue to sell them afterwards.
As for jewellery, during the lockdown I am achieving more sales in engagement rings and plain gold items, like antique pocket watch chains and antique bracelets and bangles.
I believe that my range of customers has expanded due to this lockdown as high-end jewellery shops are not physically open any more.
How do you think the market will respond when the lockdown finally ends? Will any recovery be brief? What are your concerns about risks of a global recession?
When the lockdown finally ends, sales will be very slow.
I don’t think it will fully recover for years, decades possibly.
MiMi is a member of the London Diamond Bourse, and the Society of Jewellery Historians.
Her stock can be seen on 1stdibs via this link: