When I heard over the summer that another auction of Elizabeth Taylor’s possessions was taking place in December I was elated! I remembered her last sale and the fun I have had since see her jewelry reappear on the auction block.
This sale was a little different. It was suppose to show the star’s fun side. So when the catalog appeared on Julien’s Auction website I combed through looking at the history and for the jewelry. There were a few pieces but not to the level of her last sale.
The Piece That Didn’t Sell
I did think that most if not all pieces would sell. So I wasn’t surprised to see a few unsold items but did wonder why a particular item went unsold. The item I am referring to was the first item up for auction. The Cartier belt engraved as a gift to Elizabeth’s mother. The estimate was $10,000-$20,000.
The engraving was written in Elizabeth’s own hand. The inscription reads: “To My ‘Hippy’ / Mom / All my love / Elizabeth” . A sentimental piece that was the first item to be passed over at the auction.
Is the Marketing Wrong?
If you are in the retail business or follow marketing articles, retailers are always being told that a compelling story can set your product and business above the rest. A way to differentiate your self is to have a unique story. You probably have read other articles with the same advice.
Over the next year I am going to look deeper into this auction and the other Elizabeth Taylor auction that was over 8 years ago at Christie’s. I will also be looking at other auction data and seeing if there would have been a better way to have presented this item so it might have sold or is this an indication of something else.
Thank you for reading. I plan to get back to a regular blogging schedule for 2020! Happy Elizabeth Taylor Tuesday!
Skinner Important Jewelry Auction results are in! There are many ways to look at the data. In the interest of time I am focusing on how signed pieces did versus the unsigned pieces offered. I will look at my previous observations on Evelyn Clothier and Aldo Cipullo, the top 5 items above their estimate, and overall signed versus unsigned.
A look back at my highlights
In my previous post, Evelyn Clothier had the most signed pieces at the Skinner Important Jewelry Auction. So how did her pieces do? Below is a table showing how her pieces sold at auction. Note results do not include buyer’s premium.
Evelyn’s pieces did well 18 out of 19 pieces sold. The piece that did better than its estimate, Lot 220 the gem-set necklace I highlighted in the other post. This necklace was only expected to bring in around $7,000 it brought in $18,450, 2.6 times better than the high estimate.
A little over half exceeded the high estimate. The item that didn’t sell was also the only bracelet offered by the designer. I tried it on and thought it was a sweet piece, so that was a little surprising.
The results of the next designer shocked me, Aldo Cipullo. The monkey and unicorn brooches that I was excited to see, were beautiful in person. A few pictures of them below.
Neither of these pieces sold. I really thought the unicorn would with an estimate between $5,000-$7,000, seemed reasonable. The monkey I thought was a bit too high, estimated for $15,000-$20,000. Still the unique design I thought would drive some interest.
Included is a table with designers that had more than 1 piece at auction and what percent sold.
There are several designers that either sold 100% or they sold less than half. David Webb had 3 pieces but only 1 sold. Are there other designer’s above that you wonder about the results?
Top 5 Lots
What were the top 5 items that did better than estimated? The top item was Lot 24, an Art Nouveau Turquoise Necklace.
Below is the table with the details.
If you notice only one designer made this list. One pair of Opal earrings by Andrew Grima. Andrew Grima has done well at past auctions in London and New York. Seeing his name make it in the top 5 did not surprise me. I was intrigued that a few more signed pieces did not do better than the unsigned ones.
Signed versus Unsigned
How important is it that a piece is signed? The best answer is it depends. For example, pieces attributed to a designer, especially a well known designer like David Webb, that are not signed would not be as valuable to a collector. For Skinner the unsigned pieces sold better than the signed ones. I broke the numbers into three parts.
Top: The actual numbers, there were more unsigned pieces than signed. There were also more sold than unsold.
Middle: Percent of Sold and Unsold, overall 80% of the items sold, which is where the number is usually at from previous auctions.
Bottom: Percent of Signed/Unsigned lots sold vs unsold, Of the Sold Items 60% were unsigned, for Unsold the percentage is the same at 59% for unsigned pieces.
So are unsigned pieces better? Skinner has lots of lots that are antique from Edwardian to Art Nouveau at their auctions, these pieces are usually unsigned and highly desirable for their design and beauty. The other side is that the signed pieces are not always as flashy as pieces from Christie’s or Sotheby’s, they are a bit more every day.
Storytelling is important. The designer pieces, especially Evelyn Clothier’s could have sold much better if there was a bit of context about the designer and pieces. This 19-piece collection was the perfect opportunity to spotlight the designer and make her story known. This collection was also owned by the same person. A talk or interview from the owner on what their relationship was and why so many pieces were bought, would have been one idea I would have tried to get more interest. I feel Skinner dropped the ball on this unique opportunity to focus on an American woman designer that has won several design awards and had her jewelry used on the red carpet. If you struggle to think of ways to differentiate yourself or your product contact me for ways to break out of the same old gimmicks and try something else.
Thank you and I look forward to you reading more from Data in the Rough!
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.
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!
Back for part two of my analysis of the Skinner Fine Jewelry Auction of June 2017. If you missed my highlights from the Susan Freeman collection that was a part of the June fine jewelry auction, click here.
The results are in! This article will look at how Freeman’s collection of % sold did against the other items in the Skinner auction for this year and last year. Then I will look at what the regular items did by category and see the bottom 6 and top 6 of the auction.
This year versus last year
In my last analysis, we saw that the lots sold were 68% and unsold were 32 % for the Freeman collection. Below a chart of sold and unsold lot % for the 2016 and 2017 June Fine Jewelry Skinner Auctions.
Freeman’s lots are included in the chart for 2017. You see the bars to the left is the % for 2016 84% sold. The right has this year which is a little lower at 83% sold. If the 14 unsold lots had been sold from the Freeman collection, this would only bump that number up to 86% sold, not a major change from last year. Had all of Freeman’s lots been removed from the auction the sold rate would be at 85%. Even though her collection did not perform as well as the average it did not have a significant impact on the % sold versus last year.
What didn’t sell
So then what categories did not perform as well for the items that did not belong to Freeman. Below a table that does not include the Freeman Collection. The total lots on auction were 413; 37 were Freeman’s leaving us with 376 regular lots at auction.
The category with the most lots were rings at 108 lots. 90% of them sold. The lots in the same category as necklaces and earrings were the lowest performers with only 78% and 76% selling. Without making the article too long and tedious the categories can be drilled down to see if for example studs sold less than long earrings etc. but I am just showing a high-level view for your interest. The categories are not as important as seeing what big ticket items did not sell. For example, which would you rather have if you were employed by an auction house, 3 pairs of earrings estimated to sell for $500 each that do not sell or a ring estimated for $10,000 that is not sold? For me, the later would be worse because more money is lost to me than if the former scenario happened.
The top 6 unsold items by their estimate below:
Hard to believe the Bulgari and Van Cleef & Arpels pieces did not sell. Do you think it was due to the cost, lack of interest, or the design was not pretty enough? As I work more with auction data I will hopefully have a better answer for that.
So, what did better than expected?
A list of the top 6 sold items that performed better than their high estimate. This is different than top selling items by price. If you want that go to the Skinner results and sort by that. I am hoping to dig a little deeper with this data.
For this auction, it was all hail King Georg Jensen! 5 of the 6 pieces did better than estimated. All these pieces were signed. I feel there may be a trend for well-made silver jewelry emerging. I have seen Jensen do well at auctions but time will tell if this will be a designer whose pieces are increasing in value at the auction block.
I hope you enjoyed my auction analysis for the June Skinner Fine Jewelry. Return soon for more from Data in the Rough!
When you travel what items do you buy as souvenirs for yourself? Do you buy any jewelry from your destination? Skinner Auction House in Boston Massachusetts hosted a small sampling of a traveler whose taste veered towards the Arts and Crafts and high-end costume jewelry that went up for sale today. Susan Freeman, a jewelry designer and collector based in New York had 37 items in the June Fine Jewelry sale at Skinner.
I will look at some highlights from Susan Freeman’s collection (to see full collection at Skinner click here) and then look at the results for her collection.
For me the top item I wanted to see was the praying mantis brooch by Marcel Boucher. I have a few of his costume jewelry pieces. Marcel Boucher started his career in the 1920s at New York, working for fine jewelry houses such as Cartier. He started his own business in the late 1930s. Many of his pieces are highly collectible due to the quality of work can mistake them for fine jewelry. One of the most collectible pieces is the praying mantis. I have seen it online for sale of up to a few thousand dollars. I went to see Freeman’s brooch in person and was surprised at its size.
A large brooch but if I get the chance I will buy one day. It makes quite a statement.
Another fun item of costume jewelry was a bracelet attributed to Hobe. A designer based in New York in the late 1920s. The jewelry company was popular in the ‘40s and ‘50s. This bracelet is rhinestones and carved green glass.
Another vintage costume brooch, designed as a bird clutching a floral spray. No designer listed
A change from the costume was a small amount of Arts and Crafts jewelry like this Silver, Boulder Opal, and Beryl Necklace, with Celtic motifs. Picture from Skinner on left, my picture on right.
Art Deco and sterling jewelry were also featured in the sale as part of her collection. The pieces came in different materials but were not the romantic, high sparkle you might traditionally think of. Some examples below. (Photos from Skinner)
(l) Art Deco Silver Pendant, Etienne David, France, c. 1930, (m) Art Deco Enamel and Aluminum Cuff, (r) Art Deco Lacquered Metal and Leather Brooch, Attributed to Jean Dunand
Her tastes in jewelry are unique. I tried to find more about her but only saw she had a sale at Bonhams for another jewelry collection in December of 2009. (Link to that auction here) Picture below of Freeman from the 1970s provided by Skinner.
How did Freeman’s collection do in Boston? Her collection sold at a rate lower than what last year’s rate of sold versus unsold was. For last year’s fine jewelry (June 2016), 84% of the pieces sold. In Freeman’s collection of 37 pieces only 23 (68%) sold. Of those 23 sold only 9 (39%) met the high estimate or went beyond it. For example, without the buyer’s premium, Lot 32 the Art Deco Silver Pendant by Etienne David pictured above was estimated to sell between $600-$800, it sold for $800. The praying mantis brooch lot 11 was expected to make between $600-$800, it sold for $1000 (no buyer’s premium included). Which is great for the auction house which adds a percentage on to the sale for their fees.
What did not sell? One quick scan of the items shows that of the 14 items, 6 (43%) had been attributed to a designer, meaning the style was inspired but not created by them or at least cannot be proven that they designed it. The pieces that mentioned attributed did not sell. For collectors and investors attributed will not do much for resale value unless the buyer cares only about the design for their own enjoyment or the materials have some value.
The results of all pieces from the fine jewelry auction will be updated and I will see in my next post how the whole auction did and see if Susan Freeman’s collection matched the results for the rest of the auction items. I hope you enjoyed the article. Do you have any stories about a piece you collected? I would love to hear about it in the comments. Return soon for more from Data in the Rough!
What does the color red invoke in your mind? Does it bring up thoughts of passion, anger, evil, danger? For gemstones, rubies are considered, ‘the king of precious stones’. These stones are highly prized in cultures from the past and present. At auction these stones are also highly sought after. Jewels du Dour looked at the top rubies at auction for their July 2015 article. I want to update that and include some current rubies that have surpassed the cost per carat of the reigning champs. My table is below:
May of 2015 Sotheby’s topped the charts with the highest amount paid per carat at auction for their Sunrise Ruby Ring. An almost 26 carat ruby that brought in over $30 million for the final bid. The price per carat was over $1 million a first for an auction house to receive for a ruby. The Sunrise Ruby surpassed the highest amount per carat of $997,727 ($8.6 million total) that Sotheby’s received for the 8.62 Graff Ruby auctioned in November 2014. The record was not theirs for long, the Christie’s December auction sold a 15.04 carat ruby for over $18 million making the per carat $1,222,233 a little over $15,000 more per carat than Sotheby’s Sunset Ruby. Then another top selling ruby hit the Christie’s Auction House, a ruby ring by Verdura. I saw this ring at auction, it had a great color and the design was befitting a king,for only royalty could have afforded a ring this grand! I posted pictures that I took below!
It will be interesting to see who comes out on top for the next round of auctions. Diamonds both white and colored have been topping the news as major selling pieces, but I like watching the other precious gemstones go up for auction. If you have any quality rubies you are thinking about parting with it might be time to look into selling before the economy starts going into a recession. I personally feel the country is due for one soon.
Do you own any ruby rings? I have one given by a family member as an heirloom, not as pricey as above but it creates feelings of love and excitement for me! Thank you for reading my article. Sign up for my email above to keep updated! Also for the July birthdays or ruby lovers, the below photos are for you, rubies that I have seen at auction. Check back later for more from Data in the Rough!