Investing in antique jewellery

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From the Egyptians to the present day, many cultures throughout human history have put their money in material things, wearing their wealth in the form of gold and precious stones. And while clothes wear out and most consumer goods are likely to deteriorate and be replaced, a piece of jewellery which has been cared for can last for generations.

So jewellery should always retain at least part of its value – and can potentially increase that many times over, depending on the quality and rarity of the piece.

One of the reasons for building a collection of jewellery is that simply owning and wearing a nicely crafted piece gives you pleasure. It can also make sense to structure your collection around a particular theme. You can collect items by a specific designer – such as Tiffany – or around certain emblems you favour.

Alternatively, you may have a liking for a specific period. If you can find it, then you may like the hand-made, soft imperfections of Georgian jewellery, the romance of the early Victorian – or the splendour of mid-Victorian pieces. Moving into the 20th Century, the flowing aesthetic of Art Nouveau continues to have an impact on today’s designers, while Art Deco or Art Moderne designs have a more angular, almost Egyptian look.

Experts advise you to buy the best examples that you can afford, and remember that while jewellery typically has a high mark-up, the seller’s margin is likely to be lower as the value increases. While antique jewellery has clearly had a long life before it gets to you, ensure that its overall quality is as close to perfect as possible, as it will likely hold its value better in the long term. It makes sense to use a small ‘loupe’ or eyeglass to inspect a potential buy to make sure no stones are missing. Remember too, that the quality of the metal involved will affect how much a piece of jewellery is worth.

To take diamonds as an example, experts suggest that examples of medium quality – but without obvious flaws – are the easiest to sell and will appreciate at a similar rate to a more expensive stone. In addition, while you may like more intricate designs, remember that a single stone may be cheaper to re-set, and a classic brilliant cut will be less susceptible to fashion – and therefore easier to sell.

Finally, while there are many online sellers, it’s obvious that you are not going to be able to inspect the piece if you buy this way, and it will therefore be more difficult to check authenticity. You may find that part of the fun of the owning experience lies in hunting out what you really like, discovering items in independent shops or at auction. It could also be useful to have an interest credit card, or if you run your own company, you might like to investigate business credit cards; so shop around for the best deal and then make a credit card application.

Of course, a jewellery collection that is worth many thousands of pounds is nevertheless relatively small, light and portable – so it’s best to keep it well hidden and to make sure that it is properly insured. Remember that – as with all investments – the market can go down as well as up. And bear in mind that while jewellery can appreciate in value, some have warned that simply putting your money in investment gold – bullion itself, or investment products linked to the price of gold – could be a safer option.

A credit card may be a good way of spreading your payments, but bear in mind that you will be charged interest if you do not pay off your balance in full, and late or missed payments may mean you lose any promotional rates and affect your credit rating.

This article has been written for information and interest purposes only and should not be construed as advice or used to make financial decisions. Expert financial advice should always be sought and any links contained within this article are included for information purposes only.

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