As far as auction houses are concerned, there are two massive names in London. Christie’s and Sotheby’s are two of the most respected auction houses in the world, with millions of pounds of goods flowing through their doors every day. Their jewellery auctions are legendary, selling everything from historical artifacts to celebrity jewels and everything in between.
Christie’s is somewhat of an institution, having been established since 1766. Through the centuries that have followed, they have handled and sold some priceless works. They’ve made the news for their sale of the first work of art worth over £1 million, though now their art works can fetch hundreds of millions of pounds. This auction house is often referred to as the largest of its kind, based on the sheer amount of sales that they make on a yearly basis. They’re also known as specialist dealers of fine arts, jewellery and anything with a high enough price tag. They’ve smashed a number of records with their auctions and items, which have been eagerly snapped up by buyers.
In the very same city of London resides Sotheby’s auction house, which deals with similar items. They were founded slightly earlier in 1744 and now have auction houses all over the world. Selling real estate, original printings of books, Chinese calligraphy and, of course, jewellery, this company have long since been linked with the finer things in life. This is the fourth oldest auctioneers in the world, with only three Swedish firms existing before it. Their London and New York branches are the most famous, with fine art being a specialty of the auction house. These auctions can often last much longer than a standard auction, as bidders attempt to take home the piece.
Although these auction houses have been around for a long time, they are still very much active to this day. They host events, sell collections and even collect money for various charities through gala evenings. Both auction houses have guest collections and highly anticipated pieces coming through their doors in the coming months.
From the end of the year onwards, Christie’s will be showcasing items from Audrey Hepburn’s personal collection. These include items of clothing and jewellery from the star; this will truly be a historic auction. There will be sure to be thousands of fans eagerly awaiting this auction to see a snippet of the star’s collection. This includes accessories from the actress, such as a compact that she used on the set of several movies. The catalogue for this auction can be requested in advance, though many of the pieces do not yet have a definitive price tag.
Their day-to-day jewellery auctions are still filled with exceptional pieces. In the past, they’ve sold notable works from Cartier, Armani and others. From gem-encrusted brooches to the most delicate accessories, this auction house is always bustling with amazing jewellery.
For the jewellery lovers out there, Sotheby’s have some of the most experienced and influential dealers in the world. They specialise in the identification and sale of precious diamonds, among other stones. These unique pieces come and go quickly within the auction house, with some fetching millions of pounds. In the coming months, their auctioneers will be allowing visitors to bid on exclusive Christian Dior pieces. This will coincide with the 70-year anniversary of the Dior brand and will place a special emphasis on costume jewellery. This jewellery is some of the most interesting and opulent in the collection, with pieces that have been created over the decades.
For watch collectors, Sotheby’s also have an auction in September for designer time pieces. They will feature brands such as Rolex, Patek Phillipe and more. This comes after a similar successful sale targeted for watch enthusiasts last year.
Records and Results
Both of these auction houses have broken records over the years, with lucrative pieces often bringing eye watering results. In the last year, Christie’s have sold millions of dollars’ worth of products, including their Post War and Contemporary Art sale, which grossed almost $4million. This has been their largest sale collection of the year thus far, though their sale of the goods of Countess Spencer has come a close second.
The sale of Countess Spencer’s goods included jewellery and home items, including her hand-crafted jewellery boxes. The 300 pieces all sold incredibly quickly, as fans of the Gentry purchased them in their droves. Portraits, couches, tables, and lamps were also among the items sold, with some bringing in over double the estimated price at auction.
2016 was one of the busiest years for the auctioneers at Sotheby’s, breaking all their records from their history. Among these items were a pair of diamond earrings, which sold for a grand total of $5,844,739. The bidding war for this jewellery was heated, with online and in-house bids coming in at an astonishing rate.
The nearly 9-carat diamonds that are set in the earrings are among some of the most perfect in the world, with almost no flaws. They were inspected by diamond experts that vouched for their value, which was later confirmed by the buyer. With one orange and one blue earring, these certainly would not be to everyone’s taste, but for those that were interested, these pieces were priceless.
To date, each of these auction houses has bought, sold and distributed millions of items. They have both established their names as the last word in all things sophisticated, though it’s hard to say which exactly which one takes the top spot.
It’s unlikely that any up and coming auction house will be able to challenge the might of these two giants. They will continue to command some of the best pieces in the world, including jewellery from the rich and famous. They’ll no doubt continue to be in the press and on our radars for years to come.