Fine Jewelry Auction at Doyle- Part Two

by Reema Farooqui

A conversation with Ann Lange Senior Vice President/Executive Director, Jewelry at Doyle Auctioneers and Appraisers

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Ann Limer Lange, Senior Vice President/ Executive Director, Jewelry at Doyle Auctioneers & Appraisers in New York. Even though Ann was busy with the Jewelry Online Auctions at Doyle (taking place every two weeks during the lockdown instead of every two months), she very kindly agreed to talk with me on the phone. Ann joined Doyle in 2004 but prior to that she was Vice President and Director of the Arcade Fine Jewelry Division at Sotheby’s for fifteen years. She has also been a consultant in private sale and in the wholesale jewelry business.

Warm and extremely insightful, Ann’s knowledge of the history and appeal of fine jewelry, jewelry sales and auctions is as wide as it is deep. However, when she shared with me that her signature look is a triple strand necklace of graduated white pearls, she immediately won a special place in my heart! While we initially connected over our mutual love of pearls, we also talked about the fascinating and exciting world of Fine Jewelry Auctions.

What does Doyle Auction house look for in pearls and pearl jewelry?

White colour is important for clients in America as well as the cleanliness of the surface and thickness of nacre. However, lustre is the most significant element. What is more, bigger pearls in general are more attractive as compared to pearls of smaller size. These days, gray pearls, with different hues to them such as eggplant, green or rose are also well liked. Nevertheless, white, is still the most popular colour.  

Why is it a good idea to buy fine jewelry at auctions?

Once you get into buying jewelry at auction, you will not be able to buy it from anywhere else again! The beauty of auction is that you can get such a variety and it can provide a great source of learning. You can see 19th century jewelry, to mid 20th century jewelry all the way to David Webb’s designs. In addition, there are lots of ways to be stylish. For instance, some 19th century jewelry can be very distinctive. As far as price goes, insurance estimates for some diamond pieces can be almost 25% of what was paid for at retail. So, if you are building a collection, buying at auction, is a fabulous way to acquire name brands and sometimes you might be surprised by the many different directions of jewelry styles you can go into. However, as a buyer you have to take a chance. Sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t, but in the process, you may learn something new.

Do natural pearls still have an appeal among buyers?

Very fine natural pearls still sell very well. In fact, Doyle had sold a pair of natural grey pearls at a world record hammer price of $3.3 million USD in April 2014. They were the most exquisite I have ever seen in terms of lustre, thickness of the nacre as well as symmetry. These days there is a strong demand for natural pearls in the global market, especially in India and the Middle East.

What role do sale-value estimates play in jewelry auctions?

Estimates are starting off points.  Auction is very psychological, emotional and even impulsive and an unreal estimate can turn people off. An auction house just has that one shot to pull somebody in. At Doyle, we understand the value of the pieces very well and generally most pieces sell within or above the estimates.

What has been the impact of the pandemic and lockdown on the fine jewelry auction market?

 There are many jewelry sales up online now and doing very well. The good thing is that people are more comfortable buying without first physically seeing and handling the items. Giving very complete and honest condition reports on everything is paramount to building trust. In fact, at Doyle, more photographs or videos are sent if requested by a client. In addition, the reputation of the Auction house is particularly important. These days extreme vigilance is needed with the signed pieces as there are many fake pieces out there. It is better to err on the side of being conservative rather than being too aggressive or too optimistic. Trust is everything in any business but especially so in fine jewelry auction and appraisal.

What are the current trends in fine jewelry sales at auction?

Van Cleef & Arpels has been a magical name for a number of years, especially their pieces from the Seventies including the long chain with the pendant, the big cuff bangles and their pendant ear clips. Also, there are other houses that also attract a lot of interest such as Cartier, Bulgari and Tiffany. Day jewelry and gold jewelry is extremely popular. Coral is extremely popular these days and turquoise has had a come back as well. Nevertheless, Ann felt that these days bright, gemmy pieces are selling, even if they are not from a well known jewelry house. I think right now we need a lot of happy jewelry.

I do so agree! Beautiful jewelry, like art, can be a bright spark in our lives and can add so much joy in our lives. Thank you, Ann, for talking to me about pearls, pearl jewelry and fine jewelry auctions

Doyle Auctioneers & Appraisers are currently having their Jewelry Online Auction, the soft close for which begins Tuesday, May 19, 2020 at 12 am EDT.

Featured Image: Lot 291, Pair of Gold and Mabé Pearl ‘Wild Rose’ Flower Earclips, Tiffany & Co. Important Jewelry Auction Wed, Oct 16, 2019 at the Doyle Auctioneers & Appraisers. Sold for $2,250 USD

All images used in this post are the property of Doyle Auctioneers & Appraisers. Any person or organization not affiliated with Doyle Auctioneers & Appraisers may not use, copy, alter or modify any of the images used in this post, without the advance written permission of Doyle Auctioneers & Appraisers.

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