Do you know the real value of your jewellery?
How much? Auction house Bonhams launches 'January Jewels' campaign to reveal true value of little-worn or inherited jewelry and precious stones

METEORIC price rises for top-quality antique jewelry and gemstones mean tens of thousands of owners may be sitting on valuable family heirlooms without knowing their true value, according to one of the world's biggest auction houses.

On the back of increases of more than 1,000 per cent for some rare gemstones, Bonhams is launching a campaign to help owners understand the worth of their jewelry and guide them on achieving the best prices if they decide to sell.

Coloured diamonds, sapphires, rubies and emeralds, as well as fine pieces of jewelry from key eras like the 1920s and 1930s, have enjoyed unbroken price rises over the past decade, according to the leading auction house.

Analysing lots sold at auction, Bonhams is reporting excellent prices now being achieved at auction versus a decade ago. These include a 970 per cent price increase for sapphires; a 1,100 per cent increase for rubies and a 1,900 per cent price increase for emeralds.

Prices for Art Deco (1920s and 1930s) and Belle Époque (1890 to 1915) jewelry have soared by a remarkable 72 per cent since 2007.

Antique jewelry has risen by 54 per cent and jewelry from the post war era (1945-1975) has risen by 89 per cent during the same period according to new data released by Art Market Research this week.

Such rises mean many owners may be sitting on jewelry they rarely wear or may have inherited that is worth far more than they realise.

Jean Ghika, Global Director of Bonhams Jewelry, said: "Investors are rapidly recognizing the opportunities of collecting jewelry and, in the process, driving up prices of an already limited commodity."

As a result, Bonhams is launching a global campaign – January Jewels – to help people establish if they have a piece of value. It has set up a dedicated webpage where it is possible to communicate directly with a jewelry specialist at

Jewelry owners can also click on this link and have the option to upload a picture of their jewelry from their mobile 'phone, tablet or computer to help Bonhams' experts ahead of a valuation meeting, which will be taking place at various locations.

In Hong Kong, Bonhams is also holding an Open House for free and confidential jewelry valuations, without obligation, at its gallery located at Suite 2001, One Pacific Place, every Wednesday from 10am to 5pm throughout January, February and March. Home consultations also available upon request. Full details available at

Graeme Thompson, Director of Jewelry, Bonhams Asia: "We are opening our virtual doors through our January Jewels website and here in Hong Kong we will be conducting a series of free valuation days at our Pacific Place office. We would love to see what gems and items of jewelry people have tucked away and now is a great time to get a completely up-to-date valuation. The market has moved so fast, who knows, 2018 might provide an unexpected windfall for those who don't realize the rarity of the jewelry they possess."

To mark the launch of January Jewels, Bonhams has created a Top 10 list of hot jewels that are especially in demand.
The 'hot list' reflects items that perform particularly well during the sales the auction house holds throughout the year.

Top 10 list of hot jewels

1. Colored diamonds
2. Rubies
3. Colorless diamonds/white diamonds
4. Sapphires
5. Emeralds
6. Belle Epoque/Art Deco Jewelry
7. Designer jewelry eg from Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels,
Suzanne Belperron, Tiffany
8. Natural pearls
9. Artist jewelry
10. Spinels

Source: Bonhams

The greatest price gains are being seen with fancy colored diamonds, exceptional colorless diamonds, Burmese rubies, Colombian emeralds, Kashmir and Ceylon sapphires, natural pearls, as well as pieces of jewelry from key eras such as the Art Deco period and certain contemporary designers.

According to newly released data from the Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index, which tracks the price growth of 10 luxury investment sectors over the past 12 months, jewelry is a consistently strong performer.

The research shows that jewelry as an alternative asset class increased by 138 per cent in the last 10 years.

Bonhams has cited a number of examples of lots it has sold in its Top 10 Hot Jewels to illustrate how well jewelry and gemstones are currently performing, backed up by the latest research:

1. Colored diamonds

According to The Robb Report, just 10 years ago, a buyer could have bought a vivid blue diamond for US$200,000 to US$300,000 per carat; today that same stone is fetching US$2 million to US$3 million per carat. This tenfold increase in value surpasses the growth rate of the FTSE 100 and the S&P 500 Index and also the housing market /real estate market.

A one carat vivid blue diamond, for example, can command roughly ten times more than a light-blue stone of the same size, according to the Fancy Color Research Foundation, whose recent figures show that between 2006 and 2014, blue, pink, and yellow diamonds experienced an average appreciation of 154.7 per cent.

Prices are set to continue to rise according to data released from The Fancy Color Research Foundation (FCFR) with the average price of all fancy blue colored diamonds rising by 8.1 per cent in the last two years.

Bonhams recently consigned a Fancy Intense Blue diamond, weighing 4.03 carats, which had been held in a private collection for nearly 30 years. This sold for £2,685,000 (US$853,203 price per carat) against its pre-sale estimate of £1,200,000 - £1,500,000 (US$1,650,000 – US$2,000,000) in last September.

2. Rubies

In the jewelry world, rubies are on fire. Traditionally they have always been one of the 'big four' in fine jewels, alongside emeralds and sapphires, but now they have become the main attraction, and attracting huge interest around the world according to Bonhams. The auction house's records show that an Art Deco ring by Lacloche, containing an unheated five-carat Burmese ruby, sold for £30,000 (US$41,000) in 2007. A comparable ruby in a ring by Cartier fetched £362,500 (US$497,930) more recently. This represents an 1,108 per cent increase over just seven years.

3. Colorless diamonds/white diamonds

Diamonds are never out of fashion and remain the universal symbol of love and romance. Easy to wear, elegant and effortlessly stylish, diamonds remain popular.

4. Sapphires

There has been a resurgence of interest in colored stones and Bonhams is reporting a growing trend for people choosing colored 'statement stones' like sapphires. Sapphires come in a wide variety of colors - including pink, yellow and padparadscha (a rare pinkish orange color) – and these hold a great appeal for serious jewelry collectors and investors. That means the stones are not only holding but also increasing their value, making them an appealing buy in an otherwise increasingly volatile financial market.

Antique sapphires from historic mines are particularly sought after due to their rarity. Today Kashmir sapphires are among the rarest of all gemstones and collectors are prepared to pay princely sums for top-quality specimens.

Bonhams has seen many sapphires dramatically exceeding pre-sale estimates at auction. In 2004, an 18.24 carat Kashmir sapphire sold at Bonhams for £129,350 (US$178,000). In 2016, Bonhams sold a similar sized stone sold for £1,385,000 (US$1,900,000), representing a 970 per cent increase over a 12-year period.

5. Emeralds

Like many stones, the per carat price of fine quality emerald escalates rapidly with size. Value also hinges largely on color of the stone and clarity. Top quality, untreated stones (with certification) hailing from Colombia are in demand and have sold well at Bonhams auctions in the last year and have markedly increased in value in the last 10 years. For example, in 2004, Bonhams sold an 8.30 carat Colombian emerald ring for US$47,000. Fast forward 10 years and Bonhams sold a similar emerald, weighing 10.49 carats, for £362,500 (US$612,000). In the same year, a 10.09 carats emerald sold for HK$7,240,000 (£591,500), representing an increase of 1,900 per cent.

6. Belle Epoque/Art Deco Jewellery

Jewels from particular eras are also catching the eyes of buyers around the world. New data by Art Market Research shows strong performance of jewelry over the last decade. In the last decade, antique jewelry is up by 54 per cent; jewelry from the 1945-1975 period is up by 88.9 per cent and Art Deco (1920s and 1930s) and Belle Epoque jewelry (1890 to 1915) up by 71.8 per cent.

7. Designer/signed jewelry

Designer/signed jewelry has achieved remarkable prices over the past few years at auction, with buyers from around the world seeking out the best examples of pieces of jewelry made by the great Houses including Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Bulgari, Verdura, Suzanne Belperron and Tiffany.

One fascinating example Bonhams cites the sale of a Van Cleef & Arpels ballerina brooch for US$68,500 in December 2012. In June 2014, it sold a similar brooch for US$221,000, representing a 223 per cent increase in less than two years. Another example is an Art Deco coral brooch by Cartier sold at Bonhams in September 2009 for £45,600 (US$62,600). A comparable Art Deco coral brooch, also by Cartier sold in 2014 for US$317,000 (£189,250).

8. Natural Pearls

Natural pearls have seen a surge in value over the last decade, and gray natural pearls, are rarer and more valuable than white pearls. Data from Art Market Research report a 286.1 per cent increase in natural pearls over the last decade and two out of Bonhams top 10 lots sold at auction in 2017 were natural pearls.

9. Artist jewelry

Another area that is performing well is Artist Jewelry. These tend to be one-of-a-kind pieces, miniature pieces of artwork, and are being collected the way people collect contemporary art or sculpture. Jewelry by Suzanne Belperron, Coco Chanel, Hemmerle, Georges Braque, Daniel Brush and Andrew Grima are all in demand.
Bonhams recently sold a CHANEL Twist Necklace designed by Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel. This was given to one of Bonhams jewelry experts at a regional valuation day by a female customer who thought the chunky gold "twist" necklace studded with large cabochon citrines was worthless costume jewelry.  In fact, it was a very rare piece of mid-20th century jewelry by Coco Chanel herself. The necklace had a pre-sale estimate of £4,000-6,000 (US$5,500-8,200) and eventually sold for £68,500 (US$94,000) in April 2015.

10. Spinels

Many of the world's most famous "rubies" are, in fact, spinels. The magnificent red gemstones that are the showpieces of several European state crowns are actually spinels.
According to Bonhams, there is a noticeable interest in spinels with many collectors recognizing their value and wanting to buy the best examples. It recently sold a 5.30 carat Burmese red spinel in its sale in April for £65,000 (US$89,000) versus its pre-sale estimate of £15,000-20,000 (US$20,600-27,400). There was equal interest in a 9.15 carat Sri Lankan blue spinel in its November sale which sold for HK$625,000 (£60,000) against a pre-sale estimate of HK$200,000-300,000 (£20,000-30,000).

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For those who want to consign, Bonhams will be hosting dedicated Fine Jewelry sales at Bonhams in London, New York, Hong Kong during February, March and April.

Follow Bonhams Fine Jewelry on Instagram on @BonhamsJewels.

For more information and to arrange an appointment for a valuation, please visit



For further information and images call Louise Oram on +852 6892 1171 (Hong Kong), or email or

Notes for Editors

Art Market Research (AMR)

For each of category of jewelry, AMR's experts track prices of ten pieces that are representative of the whole. AMR then applies a time series methodology to account for seasonality (prices are updated twice yearly after major sales).  

About Bonhams
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest and most renowned auctioneers of fine art and antiques, motor cars and jewelry. The main salerooms are in London, New York, Los Angeles and Hong Kong, with sales also held in Knightsbridge, Edinburgh, Paris, San Francisco and Sydney. With a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 22 countries, Bonhams offers sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of forthcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments, please visit

Follow Bonhams on
Twitter: @bonhams1793
Facebook: bonhams1793
Instagram: @bonhamsjewels @bonhams1793


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. Today, the auction house offers more sales than any of its rivals. The main salerooms are in London, New York and Hong Kong. Sales are also held in the UK in Knightsbridge and Edinburgh; in the US, in San Francisco and Los Angeles; in Europe, in Paris and Stuttgart and in Sydney, Australia. Bonhams also has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of forthcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments, please visit

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