Ramble On Ron

Diamonds, Music and other Facets of Life

Guest Blog Post: To Bid Or Not To Bid

Posted on | September 21, 2009 | 2 Comments

This is an awesome guest blog post by Dana Kiyomura, expert in estate and antique jewelry. Dana has an office in NYC where she buys and sells vintage jewelry and you can follow her on Twitter @winebrilliant.

“Bidding at a jewelry auction is time consuming and can be dangerous.

First you have to preview the jewels.  For professionals, that often means sitting down at a table with viewing assistants showing you all the lots you are interested in.  This is where I got my start – as a viewing assistant.  Now I am on the other side of the table.  Loupe and pen in hand I look at each piece and decide on what to bid.  Taking notes in the margins, a calculator is imperative to figure out what to pay including the buyer’s premium.  For many auctions, this premium can be between 15-20%.  Pretty steep in my opinion – the auction makes money from both the buyer and the seller.

The day of the auction, I am often on the phone.  Someone from the salerooom calls a few lots before the lot I want to bid on, and then acts as my agent, raising a paddle for me.  This is the most dangerous part.  Auction fever.  Of course, there is competition for most lots.  Once I get my bid in and then someone else raises the bid, I have the option of bidding again.  When I am maxed out – there is always that little voice in my head that says, “if you go one more bid you may get it.”  When I listen to that voice, I almost always am sorry I pushed.  Must learn DISCIPLINE.

In other scenarios, I pick things up for way below my mark – a pleasant surprise and most times a score.  Jewelry professionals are drawn to auctions hoping to find that little overlooked item – literally a gem that is the “sleeper.”  However, these days, I am finding there are no secrets anymore and the days of identifying a signed piece of jewelry that no one else has recognized is now passed.

After the sale, the items are shipped or picked up and then you can access the damage.  It’s almost like the morning after, and the beer googles come off.  “What was I thinking?”  Somehow things look better when other people want it too.  Now, it’s mine and I have to hope someone still wants it after me!”