Studio and craft jewelers continue to create unique offerings. But as the price of gold continues to climb, retailer and wholesalers alike are offering ever lighter gold jewelry or eschewing gold altogether. Bead jewelry, by such makers as Pandora, has been the strongest seller for over a year. Many local jewelry stores would have to close their doors if bead jewelry and gold scrapping were to go out of style. A number of major mall chains have consolidated or filed for bankruptcy in the past three years, as the lucrative bridal diamond market has migrated to web vendors. Wal-Mart is now the largest retailer of jewelry in the United States.
By contrast, auctions across the country are selling jewelry featuring heavy gold, fine workmanship and significant gemstones, unavailable or unaffordable in the retail market, to a clientele in search of classic, well-designed jewelry, whether 20th century or antique.
“Sellers, who have been holding back their best pieces waiting for an economic upturn, are consigning them to auction, where they are bringing strong prices as an alternate investment that can be enjoyed or resold,” said Sarah Churgin, who directs the Jewelry and Silver department at the Rago Art and Auction Center. “I’ve been holding annual, multimillion dollar sales in December. But with an increase in consignments in 2011 meeting a growth in demand, I’ve added my first spring jewelry sale on April 10. It’s a no-reserve sale. Good pieces in the $150-2,500 range with an average price around $500. I’ve coupled with silver and couture. Buyers simply can’t find this at retail and if they could, they’d pay more.”
Those with interest in the April 10 auction at Rago’s can view and bid online now at ragoarts.com and liveauctioneers.com or preview at the auction house in Lambertville, N.J.
Churgin can be reached at 609-397-9374.
ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE