A Photo Worth 1000 Likes

As I continue to work on improving my social media standing after a brief hiatus, I look back on what worked for me in the past with a photo that got 1000 likes in 24 hours. Repeating my successes is important but for this post I look at what I can learn from my past, understand a little better how Instagram works and of course review some basic metrics.

In a previous post I talked about a post that ‘trended’ on Instagram and got me to 1000 followers. Trended for this post means it made the explore page and was found organically. I have had posts that have resonated well with my followers but do not always make it to a wider online audience. You may have experience that as well.

I few months ago I shared a brooch that caught my eye at a Skinner Auctions preview with my followers. It was a lady carved in chalcedony with a diamond and opal tiara that was adorned in more diamonds and opals. My picture was a bit blurry at the bottom but overall not bad. I loved it but did not expect the reaction I got after posting it. Not only was the picture liked by my followers, Instagram thought it worthy to share with a wider audience and within a day I had over 1000 likes!

What was different about this picture from others I posted? For me a few things come to mind:

 

  • Variety-I post a lot of diamonds, flowers, and big statement pieces (like David Webb). This was the first post in a long time that had a face on it. A face in blue chalcedony which is a little unique.
  • Trends-My lady had a tiara and regal look to her. This summer has been all about the royal wedding of Harry and Megan, so that probably didn’t hurt my chances of getting my photo noticed. Also, as of today #tiara has 1.4 million posts, #tiaras have over 467,000 posts and a favorite hashtag of mine #tiaratuesday has over 9,000 posts. People love a good tiara.
  • Patience (& luck)– I had been a consistent poster and I know Instagram has ways of telling who is resonating well with their followers. For me I have started to see trends for what my followers like. I keep that in mind when taking photos or making captions.

 

How much does the Instagram Algorithm play in my account’s success?

The algorithm is like Facebook, the more your followers like your posts the more likely those posts will show up at the top of your followers’ feeds. The short answer is in my opinion about 85% is determined by the Instagram Algorithm.

How can you influence that other 15%?

Posting consistently so your followers go to your Instagram page and see what you’ve got if it did not show up in their feed. Take some time out to just like your followers’ posts and show some love back. I need to do more with this as well.

What can a trending post do for my account? (basic social media metrics)

Besides growing your following, this picture in about 38 hours gave me 113 new followers. It can increase your engagement for that post and others. I had about a 10% engagement rate (Likes of a post divided by followers) from that post. It varies by industry but typically a 2-3% engagement rate is good, for example if you have 10,000 followers you should be getting around 200-300 likes per post. For me at the time of the post I ranged between 250-350 likes. The next photo I posted got over 700 likes. I kept up with the tiara trend for one more day.

Have you ever had a trending photo? What was it? Would you like to improve your engagement and attract more followers? Reach out to me and we can come up with strategies to test to grow your social media presence and your business. Return next week for more Data in the Rough!

 

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!

How to comeback from a Social Media Hiatus

Are you struggling to keep up with your social media? Do you take long breaks between posting or wish you could call it quits? I took a month-long social media hiatus and started back tonight after reflecting on why I am really doing this. I discuss how I got to this point and what helped me refocus.

It’s like anything else you put off, once you find something else to do or a reason to stop; time slips away and you return to the task and see how much work you still have. Sometimes you do need a break. I took one recently from my Instagram and other social channels. It can get overwhelming not only balancing another job, but social media can make you feel like you’re competing over who has more followers, better photos or a more relevant story than you. Time to admit that all happened to me.

As I’ve mentioned some, I am not a full-time blogger, I am an analyst in the Retail Industry. This job is not as sexy as some of the other flashier (or more sparkly) jobs out there. My skill set is one that I feel is needed in this industry, I love numbers and am not afraid to use them. I also understand designers, artists and small business owners who struggle to maintain a social media presence and are unsure how analytics can work for them.

So, what do you do when you stop and need to get back to posting on social media? I have a few tips that have helped me get back my focus and start maintaining my sites again.

  1. Don’t rush back into posting. Sounds counter intuitive but it is ok to take a break. I have maintained the same number of followers since I stopped posting in August. I gain some one day and lose others the next, but it balances out. It’s better to take a moment and reflect than burn out again. Which leads to the next point…
  2. Ask yourself the ‘why’ questions. The first ‘why am I doing this?’ In this case posting on a social media channel. If money is your main answer you will be lost in a sea of accounts that all are wanting quick returns. The real question is ‘why do I think I have a unique viewpoint that others will follow and respond to?’ I have been thinking about that. I don’t have the access to as many big-name jewelry events as I’d like too. I also don’t have the connections to the big jewelry designers and workshops to give me a decent stream of exclusive content. My answer, I am looking at more than just the name or the cost I am looking at the craftsmanship and the story, especially how those translated with data.
  3. Think about your answers above and make a plan for posting. Don’t worry about posting in the evening, afternoon or morning; what will you post is more important right now than when. If you are creating a new piece show the inspiration in one post and walk through the stages to the finished product. Ultimately you want to convey what you are hoping for which is sales but do it by showing who you are and what you offer.

 

I forget that too and can get caught up in all the excitement. It’s also a reason you need someone to help you understand what is working and what is not. My not so subtle way of mentioning my consulting on digital and social media analytics. If you are interested in a more in-depth chat send me an email (data.inthe.rough@gmail.com) and we can talk. Also keep following my blog for more tips and my own journey to discover the data in the rough!

Also, since I can’t go with out a picture of a fabulous jewel. A David Web piece I posted tonight to get back into the social media cycle. Enjoy and good luck!

Christie’s and Sotheby’s increasing September Online Jewelry Auctions

As summer comes to an end Fall auctions are fast approaching. Instead of the auctions taking place around the world more auctions of Fine Jewelry are happening online. Read more to see how Christie’s and Sotheby’s are adapting to the change in technology and what this means for the public.

I don’t go too often to New York in the Summer, it’s hot, crowded and the jewelry industry slows down over this season. What I do look forward to is my treks up to the Big Apple to see some major bling in the Fall.

In 2016 I went to both Christie’s and Sotheby’s for their September Fine Jewelry Auctions. Christie’s had a preview of their online jewels and the Private Collection of President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan, that was sold in NYC.

A few highlights from Mrs. Reagan’s Collection:

Bulgari Ring

Sotheby’s had plenty to see too. With previews of upcoming auctions happening in London and New York.

A few highlights:

Tiffany moonstone and enamel necklace
Bulgari flower brooch
Yellow and white diamond brooch

Last year neither auction house had previews in NYC. Sotheby’s had two auctions in London, one their Fine Jewelry and the other the collection of actress Vivian Leigh. I took a closer look at that auction in my previous post here.

Christie’s had one jewelry auction, but it was online in September 2017. This year again no September auctions that occur offline for these two auction houses. Sotheby’s has one general fine jewelry auction, one that is selling loose diamonds and the last highlighting one Italian designer. All these auctions occurring online.

Is this a trend that will continue?
Yes, I think more auctions will be having an online presence. Sotheby’s has also tried removing the buyer’s premium to encourage people to try online with out the hidden fees. I am anxious to see how the auctions do with collectors and how smaller auction houses will adapt.

How will this affect the way jewelry is previewed at auctions?
I still think their will be previews and auctions to see the items and handle them. It is very difficult to take size into account when looking online and some gems like opal are hard to get good photos of.

For those that post on social media and blog I think that a time will come that your following and status will play a bigger part in getting to participate in the previews. For now, I have an auction preview in Boston at the end of the month I plan to go to and I’ll be heading to NYC in October not for a preview but for a fun trip that I will share later.
Return for more on the upcoming online auctions and other topics in the jewelry industry dealing with business and marketing. Thank you for reading my article.

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!