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Expert Tips for Buying Jewelry Online

Whether you’re seeking wearable accessories to enhance a wardrobe, looking to add new pieces to an established collection, or searching for beautiful treasures to give as gifts, you’ll find that antique and contemporary jewelry is plentiful online.

Once regarded as items that required in-person inspection prior to purchase, contemporary, vintage and antique jewelry items are all part of a growing segment within the e-commerce realm. Global jewelry sales are expected to achieve $250 billion by the end of the year, with online purchases accounting for 4-5%, according to Forbes. While that may not seem like an overly impressive statistic, just wait. Within the next three years, it’s anticipated that purchases of jewelry via online platforms will account for 15% of total sales.

A current fashion-jewelry trend, according to an article in the Robb Report, is chunky vintage jewelry. A few of the 65 lots featured in Jasper52’s July 16, 2017 Loose Stones, Sterling & Silver Jewelry Auction fit this bill. This circa-1970s Italian silver bracelet by UnoAErre measures 9/23 cm when locked and has an affordable estimate of $70-$90. Jasper52 image

A significant factor behind the anticipated spike is increased consumer confidence. “If you’re buying from a trusted seller, it should make no difference how the transaction is accomplished. Buying online is just a more convenient way to acquire the same merchandise that ordinarily would be purchased from a traditional venue,” said LiveAuctioneers Senior VP Product and Marketing Phil Michaelson.

As the jewelry market continues to evolve, the opportunity to obtain jewelry from sellers around the world, regardless of one’s locale, is greater than ever. With that being the case, to paraphrase a quote from Marvel Comics’ Spider-Man, “With great opportunity comes great responsibility.” Research and ask questions before you make any online jewelry purchase, not afterward.

Scully & Scully 18K white and yellow gold owl brooch with ruby eyes and criss-cross design of diamonds, handmade in England, with original box. Entered in Alex Cooper’s July 20, 2017 auction. Estimate $1,000-$2,000. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers and Alex Cooper

Buying Tip: Look for diamonds that have been graded by the GIA (Gemological Institute of America). This world-renowned nonprofit institute issues laboratory reports with their opinion of a gemstone’s color and clarity.

Robert Kadet, a member of the jewelry industry for more than four decades and a graduate gemologist, says the credibility of the company offering jewelry should be a foremost consideration. “Find out how long the company selling the piece has been in business and make sure they have an upstanding reputation,” he advises.

Art Deco Burma sapphire, Colombian emerald and diamond brooch, estimated total diamond weight 1 carat. Offered in Fellows’ July 13, 2017 auction. Estimate £5,000-£7,000. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers and Fellows

The Better Business Bureau and sites like Yelp are among the sources where consumers can obtain information on a business, but when it comes to online auctions, it is important to bid through a platform where quality jewelry sellers conduct their sales. Check how many auctions they have run in the past, what sort of merchandise they carry, how long they’ve been in business, and most certainly, what their Terms and Conditions are.

Buying Tip: Pay close attention to the auction-catalog details for any item of jewelry you’re considering to bid on. When buying a piece of jewelry, you want to know what karat gold it is, the carat weight or total weight of diamonds or colored stones, and whether it contains precious or semi-precious stones.

A cushion-shape diamond in a claw-set mount, 26.29 carats, with a clarity grade of VVS2 sold for $847,667 at auction on June 7, 2017. It had been purchased for only 10 British pounds sterling ($13) in the 1980s. Image courtesy of Sotheby’s image

Nothing does more to inspire buyers to add a new sparkler to their jewelry chest than a high-profile sale of a dazzling gemstone, especially if it has a good story behind it. There was quite a buzz in jewelry circles recently when Sotheby’s held its Fine Jewelry auction. Leading the lots in their sale was a recently discovered diamond ring referred to as the “Tenner” diamond. The ring features a cushion-shape diamond weighing 26.29 carats in a claw-set mount reportedly dating to the 19th century. It was originally purchased by the consignor in the 1980s for just 10 British pounds sterling (US $13), hence the name “Tenner” – British slang for a 10-pound note. The ring had been misidentified as costume jewelry and was sold at a car boot sale, a market where individuals gather to sell household and flea market goods from the “boot,” or trunk, of their cars.

Buying Tip: Pay attention to the presence of photos, or lack thereof, within online jewelry listings. Photos of jewelry should be clear and represent all angles. Take the time to inspect each photo. If you aren’t satisfied with the photographic representations provided in an auction listing, contact the seller or auctioneer and ask for additional images of a specific angle. — Gemological Institute of America

Jewelry listings with photos of multiple views provide the possibility to inspect a piece closely, which can reveal important elements, including makers’ marks, as shown in this photo. This sterling silver ring with an oval-shape cabochon green agate, created by Georg Jensen circa 1910-1925, is included in Jasper52’s July 16, 2017 American, European & Mexican Silver Auction. Estimate: $650-$750. Jasper52 image

Discovering a wonderful piece of jewelry online, bidding on it, and winning it, is an exciting way to add to a collection. When the package containing your purchase arrives at your door and you discover that the piece is even nicer than you had initially thought, you’ll be glad you took the time to do your research before buying.


Rodger Kadet grew up working many aspects of his family’s jewelry business, Rogers and Hollands Jewelers, which has been in operation for more than a century. In 2009, he began doing business as Roger Kadet Ltd., operating as a private jeweler specializing in custom-made jewelry, as well as watches and other types of jewelry. He is a buyer of gold, diamonds, silver and coins. He currently serves as the president of the Chicago Jewelers Association (CJA), which was founded in 1874. In addition to serving as a resource and a forum platform for retailers, wholesalers/manufacturers, and sales representatives serving the jewelry market, the organization provides educational seminars, and operates a scholarship fund for college-bound students.

A Lineup of Famous Names in Jewelry

Tiffany & Co., Cartier and Bulgari are several of the famous names that stand out in a diverse mix of contemporary and designer jewelry offered in this week’s collection. Whether you’re on the hunt for an iconic designer piece, or a one-of-a-kind contemporary item, this curated auction has a gem for you. Take a look at the highlights from the collection below.

Among the fine estate jewelry coming up for bids in the sale is an 18K gold snake ring from Bulgari’s Tubogas Collection. The ring features a rich red cabochon ruby.

Bulgari Tubogas 18K gold and cabochon ruby snake ring. Estimate: $3,250-$3,500. Jasper52 image

 

Golfers will love the Cartier 18K white gold cuff links set in the form of a golf ball and tee. Each cuff link is marked “Cartier, 750” with reference numbers, the maker’s mark, and a French 18K gold assay mark. The set dates to circa 1990.

Cartier 18K white gold cuff links, 12 grams. Estimate: $1,850-$2,225. Jasper52 image

 

Prolific 20th-century artist Salvador Dali designed an 18K yellow gold pendant necklace in the likeness of Carmen from the famous Georges Bizet opera. The pendant is marked #9 of an edition of 1,000 and measures 1.25 inches tall. It is also marked with “Dali, 18K, 750” and has a 16.5 inch long chain with rose-like links.

18K yellow gold pendant necklace designed by Salvador Dali, 31.5 grams. Estimate: $3,650-$3,950. Jasper52 image

 

French fashion designer Paloma Picasso, widely known for her jewelry designs for Tiffany & Co., is represented in the auction with an 18K yellow gold ring of double hearts intertwined. The ring is signed “Paloma Picasso T&Co.”

Tiffany & Co. Paloma Picasso double loving heart ring, 18K gold, 10.2 grams. Estimate: $625-$6540. Jasper52 image

 

Another stunning contemporary ring in the collection is a John Hardy sterling silver ring set with a Batu smoky quartz gemstone. The ring is new without tags.

John Hardy sterling silver and Batu smoky quartz ring. Estimate: $1,700-$1,900. Jasper52 image

 

Several pieces in this collection are in the form of wildlife, including an alligator sterling cuff and matching pendant by Judith Ripka.

Judith Ripka alligator sterling pendant and cuff bracelet, .925 silver. Estimate: $120-$140. Jasper52 image

 

View the full collection and decide which pieces you’ll be adding to your jewelry box.

Fine Jewelry Auction Sets Stage for Premier Designers’ Gems

David Yurman, Georg Jensen, William Spratling, Cartier and Tiffany are a few of the famous names represented in this weekend’s upcoming fine jewelry auction.

Sparkling with fine creations by illustrious designers, this collection offers a kaleidoscope of exquisite pieces, including vintage and estate jewelry. Trends evolve, but diamonds, silver and gold never go out of style. Here are a few of our favorite things… from this collection:

Diamond and sapphire earrings, 1.5 ctw. Estimate: $6,000-$8,000

Diamond and sapphire earrings, 1.5 ctw. Estimate: $6,000-$8,000

Topping the list is a pair of diamond and sapphire earrings in 18K white and yellow gold. The diamonds in these flower-shape earrings have a total carat weight of approximately 1.5 to 2.0 carats (est. $6,000-$8,000).

Seven pieces designed by sculptor David Yurman are entered in the auction, including an 18K gold X crossover diamond ring. The size 7 ring features Yurman’s signature cable detail and pave diamonds (0.04 ctw).

David Yurman 18K gold X crossover diamond ring. Estimate: $900-$1,000. Jasper52 image

David Yurman 18K gold X crossover diamond ring. Estimate: $900-$1,000

A classic example of Mexican silver is a 1930s River of Life cuff bracelet designed by William Spratling, which is estimated at $1,750-$2,000.

 

William Spratling ‘River of Life’ cuff bracelet, 980 silver. Estimate: $1,750-$2,000. Jasper52 image

William Spratling ‘River of Life’ cuff bracelet, 980 silver. Estimate: $1,750-$2,000

Two postwar Georg Jensen lots will be sold: a 1 1/2-inch sterling silver No. 20 brooch and a pair of sterling silver No. 66 “Bird” earrings by Kristian Mohl-Hansen.

 

Georg Jensen sterling silver ‘Bird’ earrings by Kristian Mohl-Hansen, with screw back clasps, 1-inch diameter. Estimate: $500-$600. Jasper52 image

Georg Jensen sterling silver ‘Bird’ earrings by Kristian Mohl-Hansen, with screw-back clasps, 1-inch diameter. Estimate: $500-$600

This 18K white gold and diamond “C” heart ring by Cartier has an estimated value of $4,500-$6,000.

 

Cartier 18K white gold diamond ‘C’ heart ring, sized 5.25. Estimate: $4,500-$6,000.

Cartier 18K white gold diamond ‘C’ heart ring, size 5.25. Estimate: $4,500-$6,000.

Just “a little something” from Tiffany’s, the pair of 14K yellow gold full links shown below carry a $200-$300 estimate.

Tiffany & Co 14K yellow gold cuff links, 11.3 grams. Estimate: $200-$300. Jasper52 image

Tiffany & Co 14K yellow gold cuff links, 11.3 grams. Estimate: $200-$300

Also within this unique assortment of more than 100 lots are a Victorian gold conch brooch and a Navajo green turquoise necklace. And the best part? All bidding start at just $1.