The credit crunch may have affected some areas of the art market, but antique jewellery sales are, according to the auction houses, zipping along as buyers display an increased appetite for tangible assets over poor returns on money left in the bank.

Amid the wealth of sources for contemporary design, salerooms and specialist dealers still remain the best places to source jewellery with provenance. ‘Period jewellery is doing particularly well,’ says Jean Ghika, director of jewellery at Bonhams. ‘Signed pieces, by jewellers such as Van Cleef and Arples, and Cartier will always be popular, and we have seen an increase in interest in 20th century designers like Stewart Devlin and John Donald.

A lot of people like the fact that at auction you are often buying a one-off piece with history. Our 9th September sale included a gold and diamond dress ring from 1965, by John Donald, which exceeded its estimated of £1200-1500, selling for £1,950

‘The advantage of buying at auction is also the huge variety of pieces available,’ agrees Alexandra Rhodes, senior jewellery specialist at Sotheby’s. ‘And if you can’t find what you are looking for, our specialists will often be able to run through past catalogues, and keep an eye out for pieces that come up. At the moment there is huge demand for pieces from the ‘60s and ‘70s, which tie in well with current fashion trends, so now is a good time to consign if you have un-worn pieces just sitting in the safe.’

And it turns out that regional auction houses are faring equally well: the July sale of Fine Jewellery at Halls Fine Art in Shrewsbury was their best ever. ‘People are looking for other things to invest their money in,’ says Christina Trevanion Head of Jewellery at Halls. ‘And the appeal of jewellery as an investment is that you can get a lot of pleasure out of wearing it as well. Anything timeless, classic and elegant is particularly popular at the moment.’
 
According to Robert Ogden of Richard Ogden, specialists in traditional and antique jewellery based in Piccadilly’s Burlington Arcade, certain items will always be popular whatever the market. ‘Items that you would wear everyday, like rings and earrings, are always good pieces. Rings in particular are not only versatile, in that they can be worn everyday as well as well as for occasions, but they often represent special events, such as engagements or anniversaries. His advice to anyone buying jewellery is to think of the next generation. ‘A special piece of jewellery should be for the future, though this investment is not just a financial one. There is a massive personal element, especially if you are buying to mark an occasion. You are buying a moment in time.’  

For more on contemporary jewellery see Country Life’s fantastic jewellery special article, out on Wednesday September 23. Image: A diamond and coloured diamond set butterfly brooch retailed by Wartski, sold for £6,700

List of jewellry upcoming auctions 

South East

Trooveys, Antique & Fine Art Auctioneers & Valuers, Sussex
7th October, Oil paintings, watercolours, drawings/prints, Silver/Plate, Jewellery, Coins & Banknotes
4th November, Oil paintings, watercolours, drawings/prints, Silver/Plate, Jewellery, Objects of Virtu
2nd December, Oil paintings, watercolours, drawings/prints, Silver/Plate, Jewellery, medals, militaria and weapons

Gorringes, Lewes
The leading fine art & antiques auction house in the South East.
21st – 22nd October, Fine art, antique furniture, ceramics, silver, jewellery, collectables and other interesting pieces
9th – 10th December, Fine art, antique furniture, ceramics, silver, jewellery, collectables and other interesting pieces

Dreweatts 1759
Donnington Priory Salesroom near Newbury, Berkshire
14th October, Fine Jewellery & Watches
Godalming saleroom
11th November, Jewellery, Silver & Watches

East of England

Cheffins, Cambridge
Auctioneers and Valuers in the mid-Anglia region
23rd September, The Fine Art Sale. Includes a fine selection of ceramics, glass, silver, jewellery, decorative arts, paintings, watercolours and drawings, collectors’ items, furniture and rugs
25th November As Above
(Also have a ‘Decorative Interiors Sale’ including an eclectic mix of Antiques, Collectable & Decorative items, 8th October, 12th November, 10th December. And ‘The Sporting Sale’ including sporting paintings/prints, equipment and guns, 15th October)

South West

Cotswold Auction Company, Gloucestershire
22nd December, Antique Furniture, Clocks, Boxes, Silver, Jewellery and Watches – Cheltenham

Dreweatts, 1759, Bristol saleroom
6th October, Jewellery, Silver & Coins

London/Intrernational

Christies
September:
6th, Paris Jewels, Paris
21st, Jewels: The New York Sale and The Annenberg Diamond, Rockefeller US
21st, Jewels at South Kensington, South Kensington, London
28th, Jewels and Watches: The Dubai sale, Dubai
November:
3rd, Jewels and Watches, Amsterdam
16th, Important Watches , Geneva
18th, Jewels: The Geneva Sale, Geneva
19th, Jewels at South Kensington, South Kensington
25th, Jewellery, Milan
December:
1st, Jewels: The Hong Kong Sale, Hong Kong
2nd, Important Watches, Hong Kong
2nd, Jewellery, King Street
8th, BVLGARI Celebrating 125 Years: An auction honouring Save the Children, Rockefeller Centre
10th, NY Jewels, Rockefeller Centre
11th, Ancient Jewellery, Rockefeller Centre
15th, Important Watches, Rockefeller Centre
16th, Jewels at South Kensington, London

Sotheby’s
October:
7th, Magnificent Jewels & Jadeite, Hong Kong  
19th, Important Jewels, New York
December:
9th, Magnificent Jewels , New York
17th, Important Tiffany, New York

Bonhams
September:
21st, Jewellery and Watches, Las Vegas
23rd, Jewellery, New Bond Street    
October:
14th, Jewellery, Knightsbridge
20th, Jewellery and Watches, New York
November:
4th, Decorative Arts, including Jewellery, Gordon Russell & Cotswold School Furniture, Knowle
25th, Fine Jewellery, Melbourne

December:
7th, Affordable Jewellery, Sydney
7th, Fine Jewellery, Sydney
9th, The Art of Jewels. New Bond Street
14th, Jewellery, Adelaide, SA

Halls Auction Services, Shrewsbury
November:
11th, Pictures, Silver, Jewellery and Watches,