Jewels on the Block: A Guide to Buying and Selling Fine Jewelry at Auction

Fine jewelry has always symbolized luxury, elegance, and timeless beauty. It is no surprise that these rare and exquisite art pieces are highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts. Auction houses like Waddington’s have become the primary destination for buying and selling fine jewelry due to their ability to provide access to unique pieces, exceptional quality, and transaction transparency. This post will explore the world of buying and selling fine jewelry at auction, including what to look for, how to bid, and what to expect.

Researching Auction Houses:

When considering buying or selling jewelry at auction, carefully research the auction house. Different auction houses have different specialties and reputations. Some specialize in antique and vintage jewelry, while others focus on contemporary and designer pieces. Researching auction house catalogues and past sales results can indicate what to expect regarding selection and pricing.

It is also essential to consider the auction house’s reputation for transparency, expertise, and authenticity. Established auction houses have experienced specialists who can evaluate and authenticate jewelry based on its quality, rarity, and history. This expertise ensures that the pieces sold are genuine and of the quality described. This can help maximize the value of the jewelry being sold.

Choosing the Right Piece:

When buying jewelry at auction, it is essential to consider the piece’s condition, quality, and rarity. This can affect the value of the piece and how much one should be willing to bid.

Examining the piece carefully before purchasing is also crucial. Buyers should look for any visible signs of wear or damage, such as scratches or dents, and determine if the piece has been altered or repaired.

Another factor to consider when buying fine jewelry is provenance. Provenance refers to ownership history and is especially important when considering antique or vintage pieces. Jewelry with a notable history, such as having been owned by a celebrity or member of royalty, can significantly increase the piece’s value.

Setting a Budget:

It is essential to have a clear idea of how much one is willing to spend on a piece of jewelry before bidding. This helps prevent overspending and ensures that the purchase is a sound investment. Auction houses typically have a buyer’s premium, a percentage of the final sale price added on top of the hammer price. It is essential to factor this premium into the budget when determining how much to bid.

Selling at Auction:

When selling jewelry at auction, it is crucial to have the piece evaluated by an expert to determine its value and authenticity. This can help ensure that the piece is accurately described in the auction catalogue and the seller receives a fair price for the jewelry.

Choosing an auction house like Waddington’s, with a strong reputation and experience selling fine jewelry, is also essential. Sellers should also consider the timing of the auction. Auctions are more successful when they coincide with significant events, such as holidays or special occasions. This can generate interest and competition among bidders.


Buying and selling fine jewelry at auction requires careful consideration, research, and planning. With the right approach, however, it can be a rewarding and profitable endeavour for both buyers and sellers alike.

So, whether you are a seasoned collector or a first-time bidder, take your time, research, and enjoy acquiring or selling exquisite jewelry.

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