Monday, 18 January 2021
Bonhams will see a significant shift towards online-only sales. But let‘s have a look at what happened last year.
In 2020 Bonhams increased its digital capabilities and were quick to embrace remote sales. The jewelry department found its buyers and consignors in particular were predisposed towards buying and selling online. Leslie Roskind, Head of Jewellery in Hong Kong says: «This proved to be an effective way to both engage our existing clients and to attract new, especially younger, clients worldwide.»
Bonhams debuted a new series of online-only sales entitled ‘Luxury Online’ in May, first in Hong Kong and subsequently across all locations. The auction house has since hosted 10 in this format, 8 of which took place in Hong Kong. The new initiative combines jewelry with watches and other luxury categories, offering a one-stop shopping experience. The series attracted a new audience to Bonhams – over 40% of buyers were new to Bonhams and about a third of the bidders under 40 years old. A highlight of these sales was a 7.41ct F-colour diamond single-stone ring which sold for HK$875,6250, on 7 October 2020. This demonstrates that buyers have the confidence to acquire higher value, fine jewelry pieces online, and not just shop for everyday essentials.
About online sales in 2021, Leslie Roskind adds: «While undoubtedly there will still be a place for traditional auctions in the saleroom, the fast-tracked digital route in 2020 has already changed and will continue to change the way in which jewelry collectors spend.» Bonhams will see an increase in online-only sales, such as Luxury Online, in 2021 supporting the offline offering of the auction house, with jewels taking centre stage.
Over the last couple of years, Bonhams has seen record-breaking prices achieved for exceptional gemstones and diamonds, and in 2020 a number of important stones achieved prices well over their top estimates, reaffirming a continuing demand from collectors for the very best coloured gemstones. In 2020, Bonhams New York was entrusted with selling three exceptional Kashmir sapphires, which together achieved over US$2.7 million. Last July, a 9.23ct Superb Kashmir Sapphire sold for US$1,244,075 against a pre-sale estimate of US$475,000 – 775,000, and a 6.95ct Fine Kashmir Sapphire sold for US$381,325 against a pre-sale estimate of $250,000 – 450,000. Both these sapphires were consigned in Australia and had been in the same family for over 100 years.
Bonhams anticipates continued strength in the market for exceptional quality and extremely rare coloured, unheated gemstones. With many mines becoming depleted, the market for these top-quality gemstones sees a sustained and continued growth.
When it comes to pink diamonds, with less availability resulting from the exhaustion and closure of the Argyle mine, Bonhams anticipates demand will increase for this hotly contested gem – since the year 2000 the price of the Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender has increased 500%. Against this backdrop, the market for Fancy Pinks projects a strong area of growth in 2021 and beyond.
The “jewelry as art” concept appeals to a discerning eye looking for a wearable statement piece to add to their collection and will continue to attract new generations of collectors for decades to come. Prices for some exceptional pieces sold in the Private Collection of Jewels by Grima on 20 September 2017 demonstrate the strength and potential of this market and Bonhams predicts this trend will attract new collectors in 2021 onwards. In the autumn of 2021, Bonhams is planning a stand-alone sale of artists jewellery in London, further demonstrating the strength and appeal of this category.
Federica Frosini, Editor in Chief VO+