How to make money by selling at auction
With all the current craze for decluttering and "konmari", people are digging through their cupboards and garages and throwing out items they no longer want. Making space is great, but making money by selling through auction is even smarter. You could have a treasure trove in there!
Last year an old Chinese vase, belonging to a Perth family for many years, sold for $500,000 through auction. Andin 2017, a ring assumed to be a fake, bought at a garage sale for $17, turned out to be a 26ct diamond that went under the hammer in the UK for over a million dollars.
Most items at auction come from deceased estates, people downsizing in retirement, and people wanting to realise money from valuable assets they’ve invested in. An auction is a great way to sell a collection of items, such as fine jewellery or Swiss watches, because there will be other collectors there who are prepared to pay a far higher price than casual buyers. Auction houses also want to get the commission, so it’s in their interest to help items sell for the best price.
Selling at auction is also easy, because everything is taken care of for you. The auctioneers will appraise and value the article, take professional photographs, and promote it widely, for example through catalogues, direct mail, social media and advertising.
These days online auctions enable the maximum number of buyers to participate, including overseas collectors. This makes selling through auction an even more powerful way to realise the maximum from your jewellery. Many buyers are time poor, or simply prefer browsing and bidding from the comfort of their own homes. The ARA (Australia Retail Association) says many Australians are buying their bargains online, rather than bothering with crowded shops and malls.
An online catalogue also enables high definition photos of your item to be displayed, along with all the relevant certification and details.
Selling at auction: the first steps
What’s the best way to proceed? Firstly, find an auction house that specialises in what you’re trying to sell.
First State Auctions are specialists in fine jewellery and collectible Swiss watches, including loose gemstones and branded jewellery such as Cartier, Chopard and Tiffany. Our lots come from private individuals and private collections, as well jewellers selling off excess stock, deceased estates and police seizures. So there’s a very wide range available, from new to antique, and this attracts collectors. All items for auction are examined and certified by gemmologists and diamond graders.
Assesment of auction selling values are usually free of charge. You can start by photographing your item yourself and sending the images to an auction house. Ensure that photos are taken in a good light, and take close ups of identifying marks such as a manufacturer’s stamp. Include any other information you have about the object, including any history that you know. This can add to its value: a gold watch once owned by the Tsar of Russia and donated to your great-great-grandfather will have extra historic value and could command an incredible price.
Setting a price for your item
The auctioneer will give you a low and high estimate for which your item may sell. You may decide that you only want to sell if the auctioneer achieves the low amount. If so, you can set this price as the reserve. You don’t need to worry about cleaning jewellery or repairs - the auctioneer will advise on any restoration needed.
The auctioneer’s commission will be quoted to you and includes an insurance component. It’s deducted from the eventual sale price of your item. You can find more information about the sale process here.
At First State Auctions, jewellery and collectible watches can go under the hammer at incredible prices. If you’re planning to dispose of heirloom jewellery or newer items you no longer want, consider selling at auction as a great way to make the most money for your possessions.