INTERVIEW – COVID-19 has pushed jewellery auctions online; sourcing to be a challenge – Sotheby’s



 Online jewellery sales flourish during lockdown

Signed jewels continue to perform well and Sotheby’s are seeing more interest in “cocktail” jewellery, Kristian Spofforth, head of the auction house’s London jewellery department, says.

Kristian SpofforthClick below link to Watch Replay of the Jewellery Outlook webinar, about the outlook for the high value jewellery auctions market:

Watch Replay

The webinar conversation between Kristian Spofforth and Jewellery Outlook Editor David Brough, starting at 2 pm UK time (6.30 pm India time) on Wednesday May 13th, 2020, will include a discussion about the Sotheby’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale on June 30th.

Rescheduled from the original date of May 12th, the flagship auction will light up Geneva’s lakeside with an array of important diamonds and gemstones selected for their rarity and quality, including the “The Sunrise Diamond”, an exceptional fancy intense yellow diamond weighing 100.52 carats (est. US$ 3-5m / CHF 2.9-4.8m.)

Kristian discusses the success of online high-value jewellery sales during the lockdown, and the market outlook, in the following interview with David Brough:

The online high-value jewellery auctions market has been remarkably resilient through the lockdown. Why is this?

I think people have been aware of our online bidding platform that has been built over the last few years.

Even though some people prefer to bid in the room and on the telephone they can bid just as well online.

With an unexpected global event in the COVID-19 virus, this has just pushed all bids online to a tried and tested platform.

The desire, demand and jewels were all there and it was easy for clients to trust our expertise and platform.

The sourcing for sales ahead is more of a challenge, but often we are working on things months in advance, so we can keep going during the lockdown.

Diamond ring

How do you explain the extraordinary success of the sales result for the Art Deco Cartier Tutti Frutti bracelet that Sotheby’s recently sold for $1.3 million – the highest price achieved for any jewel sold online?

I think this reflects the trust that people have in Sotheby’s specialists.

Any potential bidder knows Cartier, the Deco period and the Tutti Frutti style. All they then need are some good images and the advice of one of us to talk them through it and then bid online.

These really are very rare pieces and no matter in what format the sale takes place, we know they will perform — but it was particularly pleasing to get the highest jewel price online during the lockdown.

Can you describe some of the highlighted items at the June 30 Geneva Sotheby’s auction?

We have a great array of jewels and stones coming up, including a beautiful selection of jewels from a British noble family.

What is the outlook for the top end of the jewellery auctions market, against a backdrop of forecasts for a severe global economic downturn?

Whilst it is no secret that the white diamond market has been in a downturn for a while, we have seen very good results for white diamonds in the middle market and hopefully this is an indicator of an upturn in the market.

Signed jewels continue to perform well and we are seeing more interest in ‘cocktail’ jewellery, slightly more frivolous dress jewels that make a display.