Evelyn Clothier heads list for September Important Jewelry at Skinner Auctions

It’s that time again! In a previous post I mention some of auction houses having only online fine jewelry this month. Skinner Auctions in Boston will be having their auction and preview of Important Jewelry this month. Looking through the lots online before going to the preview, I noticed quite a few by Evelyn Clothier. It felt like she was the most listed designer in the 355 lots from this auction. Being an analyst, I had to see if that was right. I did not go through counting all the designers by myself, I used a little help from excel to get a tally. The list below of designers with 2 or more items in the auction:

Looks like this time I was right! Evelyn Clothier has the most pieces at auction in this sale at 19! Next is Cartier at 11. Evelyn Clothier is not the only new name for me I have not recalled much from Arthur King or Barbara Anton. Seeing Evelyn Clothier name so much I had to look again at all her pieces and find out a little more about her.

Evelyn Clothier, Fine Art of Award-Winning Design

That title was not made by me, Evelyn Clothier’s website lists her numerous AGTA Spectrum Awards.  She also had her jewelry sold in Bergdorf Goodman. The website has her pieces listed and a place to contact her. I did not find too much else about her like how long she has been in the business to what inspires her.

I did look to see if she had been sold at Skinner before, she had one piece at the Dec. 2011 auction. A pair of Aquamarine earrings that went unsold. A side note: these earrings were the winners of the 2011 AGTA Spectrum Awards. (All photos courtesy of Skinner Auctions)

A few of Evelyn Clothier’s designed jewels that will be sold on September 25th, that I am excited to see:

18kt Gold and Enamel Brooch, Evelyn Clothier
Gem-set Necklace, Evelyn Clothier
18kt Gold, Plique-a-Jour Enamel, and Diamond Brooch, Evelyn Clothier
18kt Gold and Plique-a-Jour Enamel Dragonfly Brooch, Evelyn Clothier

A few more thoughts on the auction

I’m eager to see how all the pieces do. Two pieces that are on the top of my list to see are both by Aldo Cipullo. They are of a unicorn and monkey made in the 1970s.

18kt Gold, Enamel, and Gem-set Unicorn Brooch, Aldo Cipullo
18kt Gold, Gem-set, and Enamel Brooch, Aldo Cipullo

 

Let me know what you think of the pieces. Have you heard or seen some of Evelyn Clothier’s work? What other designers listed would you like to know more about? Follow my Instagram over the weekend as I go to Skinner Auctions to see these pieces up close! And return to see my analysis of this auction on Data in the Rough!

Instagram changes since my first 1000 followers and what can be learned

Marketing sites and businesses keep talking about how changes to the Instagram algorithm have hurt engagement. In this post I will look at how I got to my first 1000 followers shortly before the changes took place and how my strategy to grow my following has changed since.

Looking back at all my posts it’s hard to believe I have been on Instagram over 2 ½ years! I started in early September of 2015 to help a designer start and grow her Instagram account. I knew I needed my own account to run my own experiments and see what would be best for my client in the interest of time and resources. I have since ended my working relationship with her, but my account has continued growing. I will start by how I got to my first thousand, strategies that can be helpful as you look to improve your brand.

Getting to 1000:

Once I got to 1000 followers it felt like no time at all, but it took me 4 months from the day I started until I finally got to 1000. The amount of posts was 215. It was in January and I was a bit discourage that I wasn’t growing as quickly as I hoped. I was at a little over 700 followers and decided to post on a rainy Sunday afternoon this Tiffany necklace designed by Paloma Picasso in the 1980s.

Tiffany gemstone necklace posted on my IG that got me to 1000 followers, seen at Christie’s in December 2015

One feature Instagram had was a trending hashtag section. I looked at the page where the trending hashtags were and saw #rainysunday was trending, so I worked that into my caption picking out the most bold and colorful piece to chase away those clouds! Posting around three in the afternoon I knew I’d get some likes, but I never anticipated that over the next couple of days I would get over 500 likes and about 300 followers which got me from 700 to 1000 almost overnight! I realized that my post had made it on the explore page which is why the jump in interest!

Paloma Picasso wearing her design for Tiffany, taken in 1980s. photo from Paris Vogue

Strategies to use now:

Since the changes I can no longer like pictures in real time of when they were posted unless I follow them and get notified when they post. Also, some accounts never make it to the top of my feed. So how do I try and improve my odds:

  1. Follow brands because you like their content not because you hope they follow you. I made the mistake when I first started of following accounts of people or brands that I thought would like me. The problem their feed was not always what I enjoyed seeing so I had to eventually unfollow and look at engaging with account that may never follow me but make my account a pleasant place to go to. Also, to note don’t follow them just because they follow you. They may like your posts, but you may not respond to their content as well, it comes down to engaging with accounts that resonate with you.
  2. Look at what your posting and research hashtags to use that are relevant. Mixing up your hashtags is a better way to grow your following and be in front of new people. Using the same ones can be too predictable especially if you are selling online. Look at what your posting and who maybe interested versus trying to advertise it’s for sale.
  3. Make Instagram friends. Too many small businesses and solopreneurs rely on friends, families or groups they belong to for engagement. The best compliments have been from people I have never meet but find my posts beautiful and interesting. I have even been able to meet with some of my new friends who give me inspiration and different ways to better serve my following.
  4. Experiment with different posts and times. I have read and gone to workshops about growing your following. Everything from running an IG contest to posting more about you as a person. Some ideas are helpful others I tried have failed miserably (I’ll share stories and lessons learned in later posts). For posts use the edits IG has with their photos. I try to make sure my photos are sharp, in focus and the colors vibrant to stand out better to my followers.
  5. Do not get too discouraged with slow growth or followers that leave you in the early stages. When first starting I got a lot of account follows and unfollows in hopes of growing their numbers. Instagram is still a game to many and if you worry too much about winning or losing you’ll miss the important reason for this platform to be social. Again, don’t follow just because they follow you, refer to tip #1.

 

There are plenty of other ways you can improve. Here is an article I read on Hootsuite about ways to improve your account with the changes to the Instagram algorithm. I also read an article by Recode posted early this month, that stated that your Facebook friends can play into what accounts are one top when you log in. I do not follow a lot of my Facebook friends on IG since I want to keep more focused on my business with IG.

Even though it feels harder sometimes, I am still having good success on IG growing my followers and engagement. If you would like a more personal session to find ways to improve your IG please send me an email at Data.inthe.Rough@gmail.com Also feel free to make a comment below about something you’d like to understand or an observation about your experiences with Instagram! Thank you for reading my post, I hope you return soon! Also a bonus the matching earrings to that bold Tiffany necklace, because you can’t have a statement necklace without some statement earrings!!

Matching earrings to Tiffany necklace sold at Christie’s in December 2015!

Faberge at Auction: Lessons to Learn from Two Faberge Flowers hidden in a Shoe Box

Two Faberge flowers fell short of achieving a high estimate by Antique Roadshow when they hit the auction block in June. The article below looks at what key analysis were missed and trends that should have been focused on for future consideration.

Study the past if you would define the future. This quote by Confucius sums up my thoughts about what direction I am going and hope to be going. Digging deeper on issues always have ‘why’ questions that follow, why do I like this, why am I doing this and why do I want to continue this? Some of my whys are answered by looking back at what I love and why I loved it then and now. For the focus of this article I am looking at Faberge in the news, my all time favorite jeweler. A few weeks ago Hanson Auction in the United Kingdom sold two Faberge flowers. Not exactly news worthy at first glance but the story of how the pieces came to auction is worth a mention.

 

The two flowers are of a Dwarf Morning Glory and Barberry, that the owner had wrapped in a tea towel and stored in a shoe box! Pieces that sold for 340,000 British pounds ($451,1111) were tucked away in a small box for 40 years! Why did the owner wait until now to bring these pieces to light? The article in the Daily Mail claimed the man came to have the pieces looked at after seeing an Antiques Road Show episode in March where a similar item was valued at over 1 million British pounds.

Dwarf Morning Glory by Faberge sold at Hanson Auction June 11 for 180,000 pounds (hammer price). photo from Hanson Auctions

 

Barberry by Faberge sold at Hanson Auction June 11 for 160,000 pounds (hammer price). photo from Hanson Auctions

Initially these flowers were predicted to bring in 500,000 pounds by the Antique Roadshow but did not make that estimate. Hanson had a better estimate of 100,000-150,000 pounds for each flower. Why did these flowers fall a little short of the Antique Roadshow estimate? My theory: the Antique Roadshow didn’t look at recent trends in the industry and the seller didn’t take a good look at the market. Examples in an article by ArtNet News cite how auctions at both Sotheby’s and Christie’s either had the bids for the Faberge Flowers fall short of the Antique Roadshow estimate or did not sell at all.

Faberge flower estimated at 1 million pounds ($1.27 million) by Antique Roadshow in 2017. photo from ArtNet News

For the seller, besides the trends in selling Faberge flowers he should have explored the auction houses. Hanson auctioned the flowers off, but those two flowers were the only two Faberge items in the entire June Auction. Was that the right auction house for this sale? Should the seller have gone to Sotheby’s, Christie’s or Bonham’s to try and see if they would be better to sell the flowers? Sotheby’s just had an auction of Russian Works of Art, Faberge and Icons on June 5th.

 

There are other questions to be answered but those are the two main ones for me. I enjoy analyzing the jewelry industry and am growing my business to do more consulting on social media, strategy and business investments. For anyone regardless of industry or where you are in your career one piece of advice from the story above is don’t hide some of those treasures or dreams you are holding on to. I have held onto some of my personal goals for too long and need to start making things happen! You can too!

 

Return later as I pursue more wisdom from Faberge and go back to what inspires me so I can build a strong business and help you find ways to improve yours!   As always thank you for reading my posts on Data in the Rough!

Fred Leighton: Auction of the Jeweler who owned a Flower Shop

I learned a lot over the long weekend viewing the auctions for April. If you follow my Instagram account, you will see posts of jewelry that has been auctioned as well as pieces coming up that I got to see and try on! Although I learned a lot about the jewelry one piece of information left the biggest impression on me and that was the auction of Fred Leighton’s personal collection. This man was a jeweler to the stars. I never got the chance to enter his shop while he owned it but I got to see some of his celebrity pieces up close when Fred Leighton came to Dorfman’s in Boston.

Looking at the auction book for a little more about his life I came across an interesting insight into his life that resonated with me. On page 8 of the auction catalogue the first line of the second paragraph reads, “After opening a florist shop in Los Angeles, Mr. Leighton returned to New York in the early 1960s and purchased a shop specializing in Mexican crafts, silver and folk pieces on MacDougal Street in the West Village.” This stood out to me because I don’t come from having a background in the jewelry industry. I have no relatives that I was aware of that did anything with the jewelry business. I have a background in business but a love for jewelry. It was refreshing to see someone start out on one path and transition to another like Mr. Leighton. Breaking into an industry can be difficult. For those that follow my blog I have been sporadic with my postings over the year.

For 8 months I was unemployed and recently started a new job. It has nothing to do with jewelry which can have its good and bad points. Trying to find a job that blends your passion with your skills (math in my case) can be a challenge. Those that do not have those skills can look down on those with ‘less creative’ talents. For the next few weeks I plan to highlight designers and businesses that have done better at mixing art and science. I will focus on those with a less traditional background or those that have both a head for numbers and artistic flair.

This post is focusing on Leighton and his auction. As I went through the preview at Sotheby’s in New York City, I was struck by how many were coming to find one last hidden treasure that Leighton was holding back. I watched a few dealers going over necklaces and rings with loupes taking notes of the lots they liked. The impression I got was that many of these pieces meant something more than money to Mr. Leighton. I came across a set of Van Cleef & Arpels cat brooches with coral stones. These were so small and not at all like the animals you see now.

Aren’t they precious?

One of the associates told me nobody that day had even looked at them. I obviously took them out to see. I love cats and couldn’t bare the thought of these cute gems going unwanted. They did sell so some one was paying attention. But not all of Leightons jewelry sold. I looked at the total auction and divided the lots by jewelry and other (furniture, paintings, etc).

Break down of lots for Fred Leighton Auction at Sotheby’s

The top table is by the number of lots and the second table is in percentages. There were 229 lots offered 95 (41%) of the lots were jewelry; 134 (59%) were other items. Overall 84% of the items sold. By category jewelry did not do as well in % sold as the other items. But what about items that sold far above the estimate? Well I looked at that too!

Of the lots sold on average the non-jewelry category did better. Leighton not only had an eye for jewelry but also furniture, paintings and other beautiful, unique objects.  The top 5 jewelry items that performed the most above their high estimate (buyer’s premium included are below).


To see a better view of the chart above click:

Top-5-lots-Fred-Leighton-Jewelry-Auction-Sothebys 

I was surprised at what did so well and what did not sell. This snake bracelet of gold and rubies did not sell, but a pair of turquoise shell earrings by Leighton estimated to go between $600-800 sold for $6,875. These pieces were pretty but also quirky and many of them fun.

I remember seeing the documentary the September Issue, about getting the fall publication by Vogue put out, and watching some of the deleted scenes. My favorite part of the documentary was the deleted scene with Andre going to Fred Leighton’s shop to see some of his jewelry highlights. It starts with Fred Leighton himself waving some beautiful vintage fans in front of the camera and heading over to talk to Andre in more detail about the fans he is looking at. Leighton in smiling and singing as he makes his way to the editor. Enjoying himself through out the short scene. Fred Leighton did not come from a background in jewelry and in some ways, I think that was a strength. He had an eye for jewelry but was a business man by trade.

Above was how his jewelry was laid out in the cases. Leighton had miniature replicas of Asian inspired furniture that he had made. His family lent it to Sotheby’s because they did not know what to do with it or even if they wanted to keep it. Mr. Leighton, I have a feeling would have been pleased to know that his miniature furniture was a hit! I asked an associate about what would happen to these props, after the sale and with the interest that the public was showing they too may soon be on the auction block at Sotheby’s. Be on the lookout! Before I conclude I will let you see what the top 3 other items that performed above expectations.

Yes, that looks like a gold foot. Not sure if the auction house was off on the estimate or they had misprints, but Leighton did have some unique tastes and others liked it. He did not follow trends but created them and found items that match the style and quality that he wanted to be known for. I hope you will return soon as I get back into posting more on my own personal journey to try and blend my love of jewelry with my analysis skills. Please comment below or send an email if you would like to share parts of your own career journey. As the saying goes, it’s not where you came from but where you are going that counts. Data in the Rough is back!

 

 

 

 

Analysis: Town and Country 2018 Jewelry Awards

We are in award season right now. Movie and music awards have been reported on. The Super Bowl has been played in a winner take all game. Even the jewelry industry bestowed some awards. These awards were acknowledged in Town and Country’s February issue, the first issue to have a jewelry awards section. My question is for all award ceremonies, why? These results can be subjective. A bad call from a referee or hint of cheating leaves questions for the fans and some fierce debates. Music and movies are like art, what determines the best story or actor? I feel like jewelry is the same way. If you are not listed in Town and Country are you less of a jeweler? So why did T&C try this and what can it mean for you as a reader or business person?

 

I have a few theories as to the benefit, that I will conclude with. First, I will look at T&C’s explanation of the creation of these awards. Then look at the types of awards and follow this by addressing the business side of T&C. I am focusing only on the current issue, February 2018.

 

Why T&C created these awards

If you are like me, when I get a magazine that has an article I want to read I go straight to that page. If you did that with this article, then you would see these awards were made to acknowledge the year’s most notable jewelry moments. A clear explanation of what to expect in the section but not the why. I went back to the letter from the editor to see what they had to add.  Stellene Volandes, T&C’s Editor in Chief, focused her letter on the next generation and how the readers used the magazine to discover ‘jewelry they should collect now to hand down later.’ A nice thought but one I look at skeptically given tastes and trends that differ between generations. I think a better reason for these awards is to highlight the industry but is it purely for the readers?

 

What were the ‘Award’ Categories

There were 18 categories:

  • Red Carpet Award of the Year
  • Collections of the Year
  • Stones of the Year
  • Philanthropists of the Year
  • Diamonds of the Year
  • Green Award for Sustainability
  • Watches of the Year
  • Retail Innovation of the Year
  • Gold Designs of the Year
  • Breakthroughs of the Year
  • Collaborations of the Year
  • Jewelry Champions of the Year
  • Pearls of the Year
  • Innovations of the Year
  • Events of the Year
  • Rediscovery of the Year
  • Fashion House High Jewelry
  • Legends of the Year

I like that they had about retail innovation and collaborations, topics that need to be explored more in the industry. There were three winners for each category. So, you are looking at 54 winners. 54 designers/businesses that will get some recognition. But who sees it?

David Webb, Gold Hammered Earrings, Webb won in Gold Designs of the Year

T&C Business Side

The T&C media kit outlines the reader. They average 50 years of age and mostly female. For a business looking to reach a range of ages I would press for more details and a better breakdown of who is reading the publication.

My Opinions

So here we are at my analysis. After a brief look at the magazine and awards I think another piece is advertising. Of the 138 pages (front and back cover included), 54 pages were dedicated to advertisements. Of the 54 pages of ads, 33 were for jewelry. See the table below:

Over half of the Ads were for jewelry. I know T&C has lots of jewelry advertisements, but I would like to see if this issue boosted that group of Ads. For those paying for placement in the magazine I would be asking some of the questions above about what reach this would have and how it would benefit my business.

Alexandra Mor, won Innovators of the Year, for her use of the Tagua seed. Ring pictured is made of a Tagua seed with a pearl in center.

I have a few more points I could go into, but I want to stop here and get some feedback from you. Have you seen the issue? What were your thoughts? Do you think this is something Town and Country should continue to do? Return in the next week as I get back on a schedule of regular posting after my holiday hiatus. Thank you for reading Data in the Rough!

Analysis of Audrey Hepburn Auction at Christie’s

Analysis of Audrey Hepburn Auction at Christie’s

 

‘I have learned how to live, how to be IN the world and OF the world, and not just to stand aside and watch. And I will never, never again run away from life. Or from love, either.’ ~ Audrey Hepburn (Sabrina 1954)

Remember watching Sabrina and hearing Ms. Hepburn’s voice speak these lines as she is writing to her father? Maybe you remember the first sign of her up in the morning peering into the Tiffany window with her long black dress, pearls and sunglasses in Breakfast at Tiffany’s? No matter the movie Hepburn became that part and it was fantastic! In late September her family auctioned off some memorabilia, personal items and photographs of the late Audrey Hepburn at Christie’s in London. Another Hollywood legend had her items auctioned that week too, you can read my analysis here.

I had some assumptions about this auction and in my analysis, you can draw your own opinions about the sale. Let’s start off with the types of items sold and location of the auction.

Types of Lots

I condensed the lots to a total of 10 types/ categories to better analyze. Fashion is for clothes, outfits and fashion accessories are shoe, hats, gloves, etc. Personal accessories included luggage, makeup cases, etc.

In contrast to Vivien Leigh’s auction, Hepburn’s was more focused on her Hollywood persona. Many of her lots were photographs and scripts from various movie roles. Which is why I was disappointed in the location of the auction.

Location

The sale and preview resided in London, England. There was not even a tour of Hepburn’s key photos and movie memorabilia.  Hepburn was Hollywood royalty, even though she lived abroad I think there was a devoted enough fan base in the United States for it to have made sense to hold the auction here instead of London. There was interest worldwide naturally but in Hepburn’s case not enough to sell all her items like Vivien Leigh.

Sold versus Unsold

Note: I am only looking at the live auction not the separate online auction that went into early October.

Below is a bar graph of the sold and unsold lots by type.  The gray bar to the right with the percentage marks how much out of 100% did not sell.

Only 4 categories had a lot or two that did not sell, those were personal accessories, jewelry, fashion accessories and fashion. To get a better idea of the amount which was small, I have a table with the count of what sold versus unsold by lot.

You can see the biggest types sold were Photographs, followed by Documents/Scripts. This auction was not Hepburn the person but of the movie star. Jewelry had the highest number of items unsold (to be fair it is only 3 items). So, what went unsold and why?

Unsold Lots

Below are the 8 unsold lots with type, lot number and description.

I am focusing on the jewelry for the interest of this post.

Unsold Jewelry

Hepburn’s collection was of costume jewelry except for a few items I will mention later, so the amount it would sell for was not expected to be extremely high. I was a little surprised to see these 3 unsold until I looked at the pearl necklace lots, they are just strands of costume pearls, very basic with no special sentiment tied to them. The colored glass bead set was one of the first lots up. I loved the colors of this set!

A closer examination saw how deteriorated they were and would need major restoration if possible. Something to think about when listing, is this piece in good condition or is there significance to the piece that can be translated to a story? So, what did sell?

Top Lots at Auction

Hepburn’s items still did very well of the 246 that did sell 90% were above the high estimate and many were in the 1000’s for the percentage above calculation. I removed the buyer’s premium for the calculation of the percent above high estimate. Here are the top 5 lots (in USD).

No surprise Breakfast at Tiffany’s lots made it to the top. The jewelry item is my focus for this part.

The Always bangle was given to Hepburn by Steven Spielberg, for her role as Hap in her last film the 1989 film, “Always”. Spielberg wrote to Hepburn about how she inspired him and loved her in, “Wait Until Dark” and “Two for the Road”. After the filming her present Hepburn with this bangle inscribed on the inside, You are my “inspiration” Always, Steven. Outside is engraved, Audrey. It’s no wonder that this piece sold so well!

What were your favorite Audrey Hepburn movies? What items were you watching for the auction? If you were able to go to the viewing or have any comments, please share! I hope you enjoyed my take on the auction. Return soon for more Data in the Rough!

Depending on the Kindness of Strangers Pays Off for Vivien Leigh Auction

It’s been too long since my last post, but I have a lot of exciting things planned for this blog! First though I want to finish my analysis of the auctions I had in my last post. First is the Vivien Leigh auction held at the end of September at Sotheby’s in London.

It was an interesting auction to follow due to the star having passed away about 50 years ago and her last movie was over 52 years ago. Even though Ms. Leigh did not have as many films to her credit as other stars of her generation, the films she did were outstanding. I have not seen all her films but of the ones I have she made it feel as though she was meant for that role. Many remember her for Gone with the Wind but a favorite of mine was That Hamilton Woman, starring her then husband Laurence Olivier. Even in black and white her beauty and talent shown through. All photos courtesy of Sotheby’s

Caesar and Cleopatra, 1944, photo by Cecil Bateman

The auction had many of her personal possessions such as clothes, jewelry, photographs and furniture from the 1930s-1960s. This auction was interesting in how it tried to recapture the memories and life she led privately with her husband Olivier. It was clear that even though their marriage ended in 1961 after 20 years of marriage that she clearly continued to cherish the time they had together. So how did this translate to the bidders… very well in my opinion.

Leigh and Olivier

For my analysis I looked at US dollars and took out the buyer’s premium from the result when calculating how far above the estimate the lots went. My first thought when looking at the auction estimates was that they were too low. I was right all the 321 lots sold and of those 287 sold above the high estimate given by Sotheby’s.

I grouped the lots into types/categories, so you could get a better idea of how well the groups did.

Typically, when I look at auctions I see percentages above the estimate by lot go between 100%-600% for the top lots. For this auction the percentage was in the thousands. Below are the top 5 lots picked by percentage above the high estimate that they sold for not including buyer’s premium.

If you read my blog post before this, you would have seen that I picked the ‘eternally’ ring as a lot to watch. It is ridiculous to think that this ring given by Laurence Olivier to Leigh was only thought to go as high as $793. This tells me that the bidders were sentimental as well to this union.

Next was the Ship of Fools bracelet. I saw this movie recently, funny and sad all at once. Even though she is playing a bitter and aging beauty she is still charming, witty and striking as she had been in her previous movies. This bracelet went above the $198 to result in a sale of $7429.60, good for a costume bracelet.

Ms. Leigh was also a fan of art. She painted, collected and received artwork. Winston Churchill had been noted to give Ms. Leigh some of his own paintings as they were good friends. This piece is an illustration by Roger Furse around 1948 made of watercolor, pen and ink and pencil on paper. Vivien loved cats and I think this was a great tribute to those interests. This was only thought to bring in about $1982, its final price $67,540. As I said something was off with the predictions

Another jewelry lot consisting of a culture pearl brooch from 1964. Estimated to go to $159, sold for $5403.20.

Furniture, books, personal accessories such as dishes for entertaining was the biggest part of the auction.  The fifth lot to do better than its high estimate was a Pier Mirror made between 1765 and 1780.

You might be wondering what was the lot that brought in the most money? That was reserved for the former Prime Minister Winston Churchill whose oil on canvas board titled Study of Roses brought in $719,020.

It really is beautiful. Made in the 1930s by Churchill and given to Leigh as a gift in 1951.

One more lot to note is lot 307 the diamond bow brooch that had been shared countless times on social media.

It was estimated to go for about $46,253. It sold for $49,980 (without buyer’s premium). Sotheby’s predicted that correctly.

 

Takeaways

Sotheby’s London clearly underestimated the interest in Vivien Leigh. Four of the five lots to outperform their estimate were personal items to her. Three were jewelry and not high-end jewelry, a gold band, a costume bracelet and a small pearl brooch. The illustration was of her and what she loved: reading and cats, among many other things.

 

For those looking to bid in future auctions keep in mind the emotional value an item has that may not be accounted for by the auction house. For those selling an item if it has a story, tell it! Sotheby’s I’m sure got a bit of a surprise with the success of those lots. Maybe though if they had shared other lots stories on social media those items may have done better still! The diamond bow brooch was nice, but Ms. Leigh had so many items that were noteworthy, not for the value of the lot itself but of the value of the owner. Ms. Leigh led a complicated and in some instances tragic life but always was a professional who continues to leave an impression on the public to this day.

Leigh photograph taken in 1950s

There are so many other angles to look at this auction data. If you are interested in this return soon as I look at Aubrey Hepburn’s auction that occurred after Vivien Leigh’s at Christie’s London. Also, any comments about my thoughts or opinions on the auction or actress are welcomed. Please return for more Data in the Rough!

Bonhams 2017 Fall Jewelry Analysis: The $8 Brooch Sells

A busy weekend for me. Lots of auctions coming up but let’s finish our look at the auctions last week. I plan to make this a shorter analysis. I am not including a past auction of Bonhams to compare. Bonhams removes the unsold items from its list after the auction so if you do not gather your data before that then it is harder to get. My plan then is to focus on this auction only. I will look at the stats and percentage of sold versus unsold lots. Next, we will look at the top performing items and then look at the highlights from the post last week.

Sold versus Unsold

Note my results do not include buyer’s premium.

Looking at the table below you can see the percentage sold and unsold by category (type). There were 180 lots up for auction. The types are in order by highest percentage sold.

I also listed the total lots in each category so you get an idea how much was for sale. Watches did well but there were only 4. Same logic can be applied to the worst performing categories that only had 1 lot up for sale in that category. The category with the most items was the Ring category. From the Skinner analysis, we saw rings did well in that auction too.

Let’s dive a bit deeper into the items. Below is the table with the mean, median, and mode. I describe the significance of using these metrics in the Skinner analysis.

The lots ranged from $2,000 to $1,500,000 for the high estimate. So it is no surprise to see the average be so far off from the median and mode. Those higher end products can throw off the average. We see that most items were around $10,000 and sold at or slightly (10%) above the estimate.

Were there any outliers? What were the best performing lots?

Top 5 Lots

I like to look at the lots that outperform their estimates, not look at the lots that made the highest sale. Sometimes those are the same as we saw for that emerald brooch at Skinner. This time that was not the case. There were no major outliers. I created a table of the top 5 lots that were above their high estimate.

It is a good mix of designer and early 19th century that made the list. Below are the first 3.

Diamond and ruby line bracelet from 1925 was estimated to go between $5,000-$8,000. It sold for $20,000.

The emerald diamond ring sold for $22,000 and was estimated between $6,000-$8,000.

This fine diamond pendant from 1910 was thought to go between $8,000-$12,000 and sold for $28,000.

Past Predictions

So what about the items we looked at last week?

The wooden gold brooch by Cartier…

and the black opal that was estimated around $300,000.

Both went unsold. I was surprised about the brooch, it was estimated between $10,000-$15,000. Which I did not think was that bad.

Now to the final piece the story of the yard sale brooch bought for $8 and sold for…

$21,000. Bonhams predicted that right. They estimated getting between $20,000-$30,000.

All photos courtesy of Bonhams.

What are your thoughts on this auction? Do you agree with my findings? What was an item you were watching in this auction? The coming week is going to be fun! I will look at two celebrity auctions based in London. Check back this week for more on Data in the Rough!

 

 

 

Skinner Fall 2017 Fine Jewelry Analysis: The Emerald Outlier

Skinner Fall 2017 Fine Jewelry Analysis: The Emerald Outlier

Week one is done of my auctions schedule. I know I was excited to see the results from the week. There were plenty of ways to look at the data from the Skinner Auction and I confess I took a bit longer trying to see what the best story to tell would be. So, after different ways of dissecting the results I am structuring the article to focus first on the mean (average), median (the middle value of the data) and the mode (the number that is repeated most often) with the % breakdown of the types of items sold vs unsold. Then look at our predictions from the last article and finally the stand out piece in the auction.

Items to remember I used results for both September 2016 and 2017 that do not include buyer’s premium. If the item was withdrawn I considered that unsold.

Sold vs Unsold

For both September Fine Jewelry auctions at Skinner, the percentage was the same, roughly 81% of the lots sold, leaving 19% of the lots unsold. But did the same percentage of items sell in each category (type)? Many did stay the same.  Let’s look at 2017.

Now 2016. I have the categories arranged by highest percentage sold in each category.

I have bolded 2 categories of interest the rings and watches. In 2016 there were 18 watches on auction and 2/3 of them sold. For the 2017 auction there were 11 and 9 sold. I have been reading about trends in the watch industry. I will dig a bit deeper on my own to see about the designers and make. Those numbers though of the count are small. Rings are a bit higher in amount of lots. In 2016 there was a total of 113 auctioned. In 2017 the total was 94. As you can see this auction had great luck on selling rings, 88 were sold! I have not seen as much out on rings trending but it may be something to keep in mind.

So now for the statistics. Last year had over 300 more lots on auction versus this year. Skinner ended up getting a large collection to sell from a museum, I enjoyed viewing the lots and lost a bid for some earrings.

I looked at the data two ways, what were the statistics for the high estimates on the lots and of the lots sold how many times did they go above the high estimate? That calculation was the result $/high estimate.

Looking at the table above we see 2017 had items that had a higher estimated value given to them than last year. The same for median and mode. So higher estimated items in 2017 than last September. What about the results? Looking at the amount above the high estimate it looks like the auctions are about the same. The average says that the auctions had their items make the high estimate. This is why I like the other two metrics. The median shows that the results are less than the estimate. To get the median I arranged the numbers from lowest to highest and went for the item in the middle, or if it is an even number the average of the two middle numbers. The mode looks at the highest number of times the item is listed. So highest amount of lots for 2017 sold for 30% less than what Skinner predicted. In 2016 that number is 20%. Even though the amount per item was lower in 2016 the results were a little better.

Past Predictions

If you read my post last week I had 2 items that I was following. Those were the natural pearl pendant selling between $50,000-$75,000 and the Georg Jensen pieces.

Natural Pearls

The pendant from my last post.

The pendant did not sell. What does that mean in the auction world? Are we seeing a decline in interest? That pearl was not the only one on sale. Lot 383 an Antique Natural Pearl and Diamond Necklace, estimated to go as high as $15,000; sold for $29,000. Almost twice the estimate. The pendant may have been priced too high or there was a flaw that was not disclosed.

Georg Jensen

This designer did better than the pearls. Below are all the Jensen lots that were in the 2017 auction.

Only one Jensen item didn’t sell and 6 of the 10 sold above the high estimate. Here are the top 2 Jensen items.

.830 Silver and Amber Brooch, Georg Jensen

.830 Silver, Amber, and Green Onyx Necklace, Georg Jensen

Now let’s see how Jensen did with the other items. Below is the table for the top 5 items above estimate. Some items tied so more than 5 items are listed.

You see lots 7, 11, 10 all are Jensen. I think this Danish designer is still hot on the auction block. Wait, does that look like a typo, a lot did 10 times better than estimated? Yes, it did. If listed correctly, I checked the catalog and online, the last lot 384, an antique emerald brooch was the stand out piece of the auction.

The Emerald Outlier

This piece was listed to sell between $7,000-$9,000 and its final price was $90,000 (not including buyer’s premium)! What a way to end the auction!

I saw this small piece at the preview.

The emerald measured 9.55 x 9.50 x 4.65 mm and the brooch was less than an inch long. The interest lines in the origin of the emerald, it was a certified Colombian emerald, the finest you can get. Fun fact the emerald brooch and pearl necklace belonged to the same owner, Natica Inches Bates Satterthwaite. A native New Englander whose father worked at Harvard University. She passed away in 2015.

What did you think of my auction recap? Anything you’d like to point out or comment on? Next is a quick recap of Bonhams then more auctions to look forward to on Data in the Rough! Photos except the first one are courtesy of Skinner Auction.

 

 

 

Evolution of the Jewelry Industry in America: Late 19th Century

Evolution of the Jewelry Industry in America: Late 19th Century

We will now conclude this series by looking at the 25 years leading up to the 20th century. In the colonial era,  we saw jewelry that was available only to the wealthy as much of it had to be imported for lack of skilled labor and need. For the federal period, the innovation in machines created a bigger market for jewelry to be affordable for more people but we see goldsmiths start to grow in confidence about becoming jewelers. Then in the Mid-19th century the jewelry manufacturing start to decline as the people tire of mass produced jewels and jewelers start to grow their business by establishing jewelry stores that we know today. In the next 25 years, 1875-1900, there are major shifts in the jewelry industry. This is of course driven by the trends of the people and what the current climate is like.

Before we get into all the details and history a set of jewelry I saw at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The set was made in France with amazing enamel details from 1900.

Front view:

Back of the jewelry also enamel:

What was happening in this period?

  • Queen Victoria ends mourning 1887
  • 100 years of America
  • United Press starts in 1880 to challenge monopolies
  • New wave of immigrants
  • Rise of millionaires ex. Carnegie, Rockefeller
  • Rise of the press

In keeping this post to a decent length, I will use a couple of examples to try and explain as much of this period affecting the jewelry industry in the late 19th century.

Let’s look at the beginning of this period at around 1876. The country is celebrating 100 years of independence.  At this stage in the country’s history we have 2 groups; the established Americans who have a long family history of living in America and those newly immigrated to America. Around the time of the civil war there was an influx of immigrants coming to America. I had family that came to this country from Germany in the 1860s through Ellis Island. As many celebrated their American roots there was a renewed interest in the jewelry of their patriotic ancestors.

Weddings are considered a good time to wear beautiful jewelry either as a bride or as a guest but before the 1880s wedding jewelry was not that common among the public. That changed when the Press started covering society weddings. The trend of jewelry at weddings started with Queen Victoria and then the wealthy started to have wedding jewelry be more common. One wedding listed in Martha Gandy Fales, Jewelry in America book, is the wedding of Lilia Osgood Vanderbilt in 1881. The gifts from family and friends included:

  • Pearl and diamond necklace
  • Set of diamonds
  • Diamond and ruby ring
  • Diamond necklace
  • Diamond clasps to secure lace veil for bride’s silver satin wedding dress

Could you imagine receiving any of these gifts? That was not all. The groom after spending a small fortune on the ring was expected to give each of the bridesmaids a gift and the traditional gift was jewelry. What did the bridesmaids for the Vanderbilt wedding receive? There were four bridesmaids all nieces of the bride, they received a diamond pansy pin from the groom. Small gifts were also given to the attendants and ushers from the bride and groom. The rest of America was being exposed to all this wealth creating a need to copy these trends.

How did these events affect jewelry trends?

  • Increase in wedding jewelry
  • Emulating trends of the rich
  • Increase in imitation jewels
  • Revival jewelry started to trend because regular people wanted jewels they did not inherit p315
  • Increase in popularity of silver jewelry
  • Immigrants bring in jewelry design skills
  • New styles of jewelry art nouveau and arts and crafts popular to combat the industrial trend of jewelry

Not everyone was a Vanderbilt so imitation diamonds were getting more popular and not everyone had family that came over to America in the late 1700s so copies of antique jewelry were also in demand. Cameos and diamond necklaces, all the trends from the past were being made and sold to those that had no family jewels. This was not limited to ordinary strands of diamonds, a major trend in the earlier times for the country was the Greek, Roman, and Etruscan jewelry. The revival jewelry we see in museums today.

I saw several of these pieces at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. A few of my photos below:

Earrings by Italian designer Castellini, made around 1870-1880, using ancient technique of granulation

Enamel ring from the 19th century created in 16th century style

Gold and Amber Archeological Revial necklace from Italy made around 1880

Elizabethan Revival necklace in silver, gold, pearl, diamonds, emeralds, agate and glass made in England around 1890, cameo depicts Queen Elizabeth I

You think jewelry manufacturing would start to see a revival? That was not the case. I have included the chart from the last post and added more years and removed the jewelry only listings to focus on the trends for the last half of the century.

We see a slight dip in the Boston Jewelry, Watch and Plate listings in 1876 around the time people are looking to grow their own collection without all the money the wealthier Americans have. This remains unchanged for about 10 years. Then something new happens, the trend is more handmade materials. The over saturation of mass produced jewelry has Americans looking for more novel artistic jewelry and this is the beginning of the Arts & Crafts movement. As we get closer to 1900 the trend for more jewelers and a decline in manufacturers becomes clear.

What gemstones & materials were popular in jewelry at the time?

There were lots of new designs and ideas taking off. Art Nouveau was becoming popular. The Arts&Crafts was unique because it used more affordable materials like silver and semi-precious gemstones. Below are some pieces from the late 19th century that are from the collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Arizona turquoise, demantoid garnets, and gold pendant, by Marcus and Co made between 1891-1902, New York

 

Gold, peridot, diamonds, pearls, and enamel brooch, by Marcus and Co in 1900, New York

 

Gold, plique-à-jour enamel, diamonds, pearl, and ruby pin, made by Riker Bros in 1900, New Jersey

 

Gold, diamond, and enamel pin, made by Tiffany & Co. in 1890, New York

Silver vest chain made by Unger Bros. in 1900, New Jersey

What was the role of the jeweler and jewelry store at the time?

  • Rise of artistic jeweler
  • Price war and low margin for manufacturer
  • Recession, fire, theft major hindrances to industry
  • Establishment of Jewelry League of NYC 1877
  • Wholesales business increase created greater need for reps/salesman

We established in the last post that jewelry stores are starting to come into their own and expand into viable businesses. Jewelry is trending and there were years that were very good but the jewelry industry did suffer from some setbacks. Two notable ones occurred in 1877 and 1882.

In New York City in 1877, on a night in early March a fire broke out at the Waltham building in the center of the New York Jewelry trade buildings. Firemen immediately were at the scene but were unable to save the valuable goods due to how they were stored. The jewelry was stored offices and stores with iron clad safes, doors and windows to protect the building from theft. The fire got so fierce that the building collapsed. The work then began to salvage the wreckage. One company assessed their damage and found that of the $275,000 worth of valuables only about $10,000 could be saved.  Some lessons learned, better comparisons between brands of safes. Tests on how safes could handle damage were measured and shared for future purchases.

Other years that were notably bad for the jewelry industry were 1882, 1893, and 1897 due to combinations of recession, fire and theft. Some examples are a recession that happened in 1882. The Spring of 1882 saw a sharp decline in jewelry sales and many in the industry either lost their job or had to reduce the hours worked. Another problem at that time was a decrease in profit for the manufacturing industry. With the increase in competition the prices were lowered. To reduce costs for manufacturers better machinery and techniques were sought as well as using cheaper materials for the jewelry. Some of these attempts were successful but as you see in the present time cheaper materials is not always the best answer. The jewelry industry cannot wage price wars and still have the message of luxury product unique to the individual.

I covered a lot and still could go on for more posts but I hope you started to see the parallel themes from the past to the present. If you want to understand your industry and customers better, you must understand the environment around you and globally what is trending. Politics and those featured in society have a major effect on trends. America still gets inspiration from England and its royal family. Keeping up with what your neighbor has is still going to happen, just look at how people want the latest in technology. Don’t just follow what is happening in your industry, read business articles on retail trends and policies that can affect you customers. This is one of the best ways to keep up or be a head of your competition and if you are in the jewelry industry you need that advantage as I see this as one of the most saturated and fragmented industries to make it in.

If you enjoyed this series and are interested in looking at my take on the business of jewelry I encourage you to join my email list. I am looking to launch a newsletter soon with alerts and other insights from my blog. Please visit Data in the Rough soon for more articles and thank you for reading.