Skinner Fine Jewelry Auction: June 2017 Analysis

Back for part two of my analysis of the Skinner Fine Jewelry Auction of June 2017. If you missed my highlights from the Susan Freeman collection that was a part of the June fine jewelry auction, click here.

The results are in! This article will look at how Freeman’s collection of % sold did against the other items in the Skinner auction for this year and last year. Then I will look at what the regular items did by category and see the bottom 6 and top 6 of the auction.

This year versus last year

In my last analysis, we saw that the lots sold were 68% and unsold were 32 % for the Freeman collection. Below a chart of sold and unsold lot % for the 2016 and 2017 June Fine Jewelry Skinner Auctions.

Bar-chart-Skinner-Fine-jewelry-yoy-2017-2016

Freeman’s lots are included in the chart for 2017. You see the bars to the left is the % for 2016 84% sold. The right has this year which is a little lower at 83% sold. If the 14 unsold lots had been sold from the Freeman collection, this would only bump that number up to 86% sold, not a major change from last year. Had all of Freeman’s lots been removed from the auction the sold rate would be at 85%. Even though her collection did not perform as well as the average it did not have a significant impact on the % sold versus last year.

What didn’t sell

So then what categories did not perform as well for the items that did not belong to Freeman. Below a table that does not include the Freeman Collection. The total lots on auction were 413; 37 were Freeman’s leaving us with 376 regular lots at auction.Table-Skinner-June-Fine-jewelry-2017

The category with the most lots were rings at 108 lots. 90% of them sold. The lots in the same category as necklaces and earrings were the lowest performers with only 78% and 76% selling. Without making the article too long and tedious the categories can be drilled down to see if for example studs sold less than long earrings etc. but I am just showing a high-level view for your interest. The categories are not as important as seeing what big ticket items did not sell. For example, which would you rather have if you were employed by an auction house, 3 pairs of earrings estimated to sell for $500 each that do not sell or a ring estimated for $10,000 that is not sold? For me, the later would be worse because more money is lost to me than if the former scenario happened.

The top 6 unsold items by their estimate below:

Skinner-June-Fine-jewelry-2017-Top-3-unsold-itemsSkinner-June-Fine-jewelry-2017-next-3-unsold-items

Hard to believe the Bulgari and Van Cleef & Arpels pieces did not sell. Do you think it was due to the cost, lack of interest, or the design was not pretty enough? As I work more with auction data I will hopefully have a better answer for that.

So, what did better than expected?

King George

A list of the top 6 sold items that performed better than their high estimate. This is different than top selling items by price. If you want that go to the Skinner results and sort by that. I am hoping to dig a little deeper with this data.

Skinner-June-Fine-jewelry-2017-top-3-items-above-estSkinner-June-Fine-jewelry-2017-next-3-items-above-est

For this auction, it was all hail King Georg Jensen! 5 of the 6 pieces did better than estimated. All these pieces were signed. I feel there may be a trend for well-made silver jewelry emerging. I have seen Jensen do well at auctions but time will tell if this will be a designer whose pieces are increasing in value at the auction block.

I hope you enjoyed my auction analysis for the June Skinner Fine Jewelry. Return soon for more from Data in the Rough!

 

 

Reevaluating Your Social Media Plan with 3 Lessons from a Tortoise and a Hare

Two years ago, this month I started posting on Data in the Rough.  The time felt right to continue working on something I was passionate about, jewelry and analytics. I have not done as much analysis as I would like to but I see that as an improvement not a failure. With the holidays’ over and winter in its last stages, it really is an ideal time for anyone that has made a resolution to reevaluate their goals and benchmark their progress. For me it is focusing a little more on driving insight and results through data around me. One way is to refocus on my social media plan.

I am on the usual platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.  I have also consulted a few people on their social media for their personal or business use, mainly Facebook and Instagram. The comments and questions I get center around followers, engagement, content to put out, protecting your intellectual property and return on investment, to name a few. All these platforms have different audiences and expectations. So how does a small business owner or someone looking to create their personal brand do it and not waste too much time? A strong and adaptable social media strategy!

To do that you need a plan and a focus. For that I have 3 suggestions as you find the right social media plan and strategy. Since this blog focuses on the jewelry industry I am going to use jewelry from Christie’s auction house to highlight some important lessons from the Aesop fable, The Tortoise and the Hare, that you can apply to creating a stronger social media plan.

Rabbit – by Kutchinsky sold for $10,032 at Christie’s London Auction, gold and gemstones; Turtle – by David Webb sold at Christie’s online auction, gold, platinum, lapis lazuli, mabe pearl, diamonds

So you want to join the latest social media craze, everyone is talking about it, everyone seems to be on it. You should be too, right?

  1. Look at what you are currently doing and see if it is possible to effectively use this new tool. The tortoise challenged the hare to a race, not to prove the tortoise was faster but that he could beat the hare. Can you see yourself benefiting from this new platform? Are your customers asking about your presence on this platform? Is your target audience on this platform? How much time are you willing to spend or pay someone to spend?
Rabbit- by Cartier sold a Christie’s Geneva Auction for $18,118, gold, ruby, enamel; Turtle- artist unknown sold for $15,000, diamonds, pearl
  1. Look at your own attention span and current social media platforms you are on. Do you have patterns that may make it difficult to focus on starting this new social media tool? How can you improve your current social media accounts to learn about yourself and your business moving forward. The hare is clearly faster but he got distracted comparing himself to others. Taunting the tortoise on his slower strategy without thinking about his own did not change either racer.

    Turtle-unknown artist, online auction, emerald, diamond, ruby; Rabbit-by Raymond Yard sold at Christie’s for $37,500, diamond, multi-gem
  2. Don’t compare yourself with others on social media. This is the hardest and most important thing to remember when online. It is hard not to see others bounding ahead and you continue to inch by or feels like you are standing still. The tortoise (turtle) knew that the hare (rabbit) was faster but his slow and steady pace worked for this one race. As I mentioned above, had the rabbit worried about his own progress and not of the turtles then he would have easily done better by finishing the race at his own pace. The rabbit got distracted by the turtle. There are times you’ll feel like the tortoise and see lots of ‘wascally wabbits’ pass you by.
Turtle- by Van Cleef & Arpels sold at Christie’s online, pink and blue sapphires,gold; Rabbit-unknown artist sold at Christie’s London for $893, gold, diamonds, ruby

 

They get featured on a blog or have a photo that earns them a lot of likes and followers. That kind of thing happens with the world of social media and ‘overnight’ success stories. You need to only focus about your brand and your story. A clear focus and some daily effort can get you a clear path to your own finish line!

That also leads to another question you need to answer, what will be your primary measurement of success for this platform?  Using money as your only way to gage success can leave you missing valuable opportunities. For the jewelry industry, it can take several visits either in a store or online before a purchase is made. The platform you choose to be on is another touch point. Somethings to consider when looking at measurements for your return on investment:

  • Can you sell on this platform?
  • How secure is the payment method?
  • Will this affect your relationship with other stores that sell your product?
  • Is your supply chain agile enough to take an increase in your business? Do your other vendors/suppliers have other clients that may take a higher priority?

So then how can you make progress for your brand if money is not a great metric? Some suggestions for other metrics:

  • Brand awareness-Getting more people interested in your brand could lead you to be picked up by a store or featured on a blog.
  • Getting a specific message out- Are you supporting a cause that is affecting a greater population? I have seen companies that are wanting to make money but also have social issues that need to be addressed, like ending human trafficking.
  • Engagement with your customers-Social media is a great way to get feedback and test out new ideas with your fan base.

This is only a starting point. I am going to continue to look at different social media platforms and tools to see what might help you in moving forward with your social media plan. It’s a race with yourself that will determine your outcome.  Keep following Data in the Rough for more on jewelry and the data behind the diamonds. Let me know your thoughts on the subject and what platforms you’d like to hear about. Instagram is a favorite of mine so I’ll be posting a bit more on that throughout the next few months. As a thank you for reading this post below are my two favorite pieces of jewelry that I found when looking for turtle and rabbit jewelry to use for my blog.

A pink diamond and white diamond rabbits’ brooch with a ruby by Graff sold at Christie’s Hong Kong Auction for a little over $129,000. The turtle is an antique brooch sold a Christie’s auction for $70,500 and is made of opals, diamonds and rubies!

Elizabeth Taylor’s Sapphire Earrings Return to Auction

Elizabeth Taylor Auction December 2011

I remember the day I went to see the Elizabeth Taylor Collection at Christie’s in New York. I made plans to see the collection on Friday December 9th. I waited in line as the auction house had the sidewalk lined up with people waiting in the cold to see this famous collection and remember the woman who was their guardian. I had to make plans over a month in advance. I usually wait to buy a ticket to NYC the night before I decide to leave, however this was an auction I have never experienced before and probably never will again.

It was unique for several reasons one being the history behind each piece, the second the amount of fine jewelry owned by one person and finally the fact I had to pay to attend an auction preview! Yes for those that did not see the Elizabeth Taylor Collection, you had to pay $30 plus tax AND…pick a time to reserve for your spot to see this collection. I have a piece of the email confirming my ticket below.

email

I signed up for a Christie’s account at the end of October so that on November 5 of 2011 I could be the 3rd transaction of thousands that would see this jewelry. Parts of the collection traveled around the US until it reached its final place which was Christie’s at Rockefeller Plaza.

It was an exciting day, as I mentioned above people were waiting in line for a turn to look at these amazing jewels. I had never seen so many fur coats in one place. The crowd was older but they were still awestruck at the wealth, beauty and lifestyle that was Elizabeth Taylor!

The Christie’s windows were dedicated to Elizabeth and her jewels. A shot below.

elizabeth_outside_christies

The First-Time I saw the Earrings

My time was called and I entered to find the jewels surround by glass with photos and stories of their role in Taylor’s life at every turn. The surround by glass is no surprise for an auction preview but there was no Christie’s assistant at any displays to let anyone try the gems on. The assistants were only at registers or walking to make sure everyone was where they should be. That was my only complaint for that day. Everything else was perfect the jewels were at times a bit gaudy for my taste were well crafted with the finest materials.

One item I truly loved were a pair of Sapphire Van Cleef and Arpel earrings. They have a mystery setting and were made in the 1980’s. They had that almost too over the top look, but the color was too beautiful not to go back a few more times to admire. I was also hoping maybe someone from Christie’s would walk by and let me get a closer look. I can still picture them suspended in the case. They were estimated to sell for $150,000-$200,000 and sold for $338,500!

sapphire_earrings

Now, imagine my delight when I looked last month at the upcoming Christie’s auction and saw that these earrings were back on the auction block! The estimate now is $220,000-$300,000. I believe they will make that estimate if not exceed it. This is an item to watch but on Saturday when Christie’s had its preview I went with a goal to try them on.

Elizabeth-Taylor-Sapphire-Earrings

The set up was a little different from the past the earrings were in a salon like setting and placed in a window. I had another fabulous blogger with me Jill from Everything Just So join me to see if we could try on the famed earrings. With luck the crowd had died down and we did get a chance to wear the earrings. They looked over the top at first but on they are light weight with a subtle sparkle from the sapphires.

There is an inspired version selling on QVC to benefit the Elizabeth Taylor Trust. The link is here if you are interested.

qvc-elizabeth-taylor-inspired-earrings

They are also featured in My Love Affair with Jewelry by Elizabeth Taylor

qvc-inspiration-elizabeth-taylor-photo

Getting a Second Chance

I was fortunate enough to make my bus on time to get to New York and to Christie’s where I was greeted by Jill from Everything Just So and her daughter. I saw the earrings displayed like a shop window display and proceeded to enter and ask if we could try on the earrings. Handling jewelry this expensive can be daunting but I had seen the earrings so much and wanted to wear them so badly that having the chance was a relief and so fun! See below!

Elizabeth-Taylor-Sapphire-Earrings

 

The drops are removable but I was not going to push my luck on seeing them like that, besides the mystery setting sapphire drops are part of the glamour. My favorite color is blue if you couldn’t tell from my blue top. I can’t describe enough how amazing these earrings are and how great I felt wearing them for the brief time I had.

Wearing-elizabeth-taylor-sapphire-earrings

I also felt like trying the jewelry on was part of the joy Elizabeth got from her jewels. The stories I heard from online accounts, QVC and personal acquaintances was she was generous in letting others try on her jewelry. I finally had to take them off so that they could be put up and the assistant could help another person looking to try on a piece. The memory will stay with me forever and maybe I’ll get a chance to see them again!  Come back for more stories about jewelry as I focus this month on Elizabeth Taylor the movie star, business woman and jewelry collector extraordinaire! Thank you for reading if you have a story or comment or have tried on some of Ms. Taylor’s jewelry I would love to hear about it!

Famous Jewelry Collectors

With summer in full swing many of you probably have plans for how you will spend your summer, trips to the beach, finishing outdoor projects, planning family outings, etc. Summer also has fewer jewelry auctions to preview and is traditionally a slower time for jewelry stores so not a lot of new inventory is in. How will I spend my summer to fill that void of jewelry? I plan on starting on a summer reading list focused on jewelry, book bling. So for the summer I plan to post once a week a book review of a jewelry book I have read. I went to the local library and found several that will be fun to learn about. My first deals with famous jewelry collectors. The book, Famous Jewelry Collectors, is by Stefano Papi and Alexandra Rhodes published in 1999.  Here is the cover:

Famous_Jewelry_Collectors_book_cover

I saw this cover and knew this book was off to a great start. I have featured several of the Duchess of Windsor’s jewels on my Instagram and consider her jewels the finest collection I’ve ever seen!

The chapters about the collectors are broken out into three groups by their social class.

1: Screen Actresses and a Diva

Merle Oberon – Mary Pickford– Ava Gardner –  Paulette Goddard – Joan Crawford- Renata Tebaldi

actresses_group

2: Aristocracy

Cornelia, Countess Carven-Gladys Duchess of Marlborough-King Umberto II of Italy-The Princess Royal, Countess of Harewood – The Princes von Thurn und Taxis – The Duchess of Windsor

Aristocracy_group

3: Society

Countess Mona Bismarck – Lydia, Lady Deterding – Daisy Fellowes – Ganna Walska – Barbara Hutton – Helena Rubinstein

society_group

I want to then look at one collector from each group to highlight their story and jewels.

1: Screen Actresses and a Diva: Merle Oberon

Merle_brooches

I have always admired Ms. Oberon’s work. If you haven’t seen Wuthering Heights (1939) (photo of scene below) costarring Laurence Oliver, it is a must!

Merle_Wheights

Her striking features were due to being born to a mother who was Indian and a farther that was British. He died when Merle was a small child, which had her and her mother relocate from Bombay to Calcutta. The fact her mother was dark skinned created a lot of prejudice against Merle and left her ashamed of her past. Her background was kept secret when she became a star. How did Merle go from India to Hollywood? With her stunning looks she always had admirers and one of them offered her a chance to go to France when she was in her late teens. The fling ended when the man met Merle’s mother but now with her in France she found another man who offered her a part in a film he was directing. She moved to London where she worked as a hostess at a café while getting small roles. As she climbed up the ladder to stardom she had suitors and husbands that gifted her with amazing jewels. One of my favorite pieces is a necklace by Cartier bought in London, 1938. The beads are emeralds with diamond spacers (pictured below).

Merle_emeraldbead

Another fun set to see was a set of brooches in turquoise and diamonds by Van Cleef & Arpels (below).

Merle_brooches_turqMerle also had earrings and a necklace to match. She also wore some of her real jewels in her movies. The 1967 movie, Hotel features the turquoise necklace and earrings. The 1938 movie, The Divorce of Lady X, also features an antique emerald and diamond necklace owned by the actress as she costars again with Laurence Oliver. I could not get a good photo of that stunner for this post. Many of her jewels were auctioned by Christie’s in April 1980 after her death in 1979.

2: Aristocracy: Gladys, Duchess of Marlborough

Gladys_painting

The next collector I chose because of her story being unique to all the others in this group. Although it is the usual start with Gladys being very beautiful and charming, pursued by many eligible bachelors. Gladys declined their advances and pursued learning, mastering new languages and increasing her knowledge of art. This was rare for a woman, especially one in high society to not marry, but Gladys had an independent spirit. Her admirers gifted her with jewels throughout her years. One in particular was the Duke of Marlborough, she met him in 1897 when she was about 16 years old and he was 26. The Duke was engaged to a Vanderbilt whom he married but always kept in touch with Gladys.  He was married 26 years to his first wife when he had it annulled and finally got Gladys to marry him when was now 40. She was hesitant because she loved her life without constraints. She did get some major perks and one of them was the jewelry. Below is an imperial pearl and diamond tiara.

Gladys_crown

This belonged to the Romanovs, the Duke bought it after the Bolsheviks sold it and other items of royalty off. Another item of great beauty is this amethyst and diamond sautoir by Cartier, a great example of art deco jewelry (picture below).

Gladys_amethysts

The marriage was not successful they separated in 1933 and the Duke died in 1934. She disappeared out of much of the public view. She was tracked down by a biographer whom heard of her through mentions in a diary by an admirer. The biographer found her in a little village and got her story. She died in October 1977 at age 97 and her jewels auctioned in 1978.

3: Society:  Helena Rubinstein

I had not heard of this woman until reading this book. Helena Rubenstein is the founder of the beauty product line that bears her name. Helena was born in Poland in 1870 and traveled to Australia at 18 to spend time with her brother’s family. She packed several jars of beauty cream with her for the harsh Australian weather. She shared this cream with her new Aussie friends who were happy with the results. The cream was not invented by her but she ended up partnering with the maker to open shops in Australia to sell this cream.  She married and had children but continued building her businesses. The jewelry was mostly bought by her. She would buy what she called ‘quarrel jewelry’. When she and her husband would have disagreements she would indulge herself with a beautiful piece of jewelry.

Helena_chunky_necklace

She loved chunky jewelry which I found interesting because of her petite size. She height was only 4’10’’. She acquired quite a bit of jewelry and in this book it had a story about her experience with airport security. Her jewels were sold big and colorful that Helena would lie and say they were costume and security always believed her! Below are some photos of her and her jewelry.

Helena_hands

I really enjoyed this book and could not cover it all in one post. I hope the women I highlighted help guide you into reading more on them or finding other books that give more details into the life of the collector. Please let me know your thoughts or if you have a question about this book! Look for more book reviews this summer!