The Importance of Reputable Merchants: A bit of advice
If you ever have anything you think is of value that you want to sell, never consult just one expert/dealer. Consult three. I can’t stress enough how important this is. Three opinions (or more, if you have the energy) will ensure you avoid a mishap. I’m saying this because I woke up to a doozy today. Someone brought me a Van Cleef & Arpels diamond bracelet last week to know what sort of market value it had. I fastidiously checked it out. Maker’s mark, gold content, serial number etc. I gave them my opinion that the best way to sell jewelry of that calibre is through the major auction houses in London. It requires a bit of work, but they’re the places where the largest amount of possible buyers will see your item (and then compete to buy it). Plus, these days the commissions aren’t too bad. They can be as low as 10%.
As usual I told the client to not take my opinion alone and check with other experts. She contacted a place called Anthony’s Diamonds (open since 1979, in the province of Malaga, Spain). I’d normally not mention a place’s name like this, but this is too egregious not to. An attendant there told her the hallmarks and serial numbers were all wrong and that the bracelet was a fake. That they’d weigh it and pay for the gold weight and a bit extra for the diamonds. ABSOLUTE. TOTAL. HOGWASH. I checked all that, and after I checked it, I confirmed my opinion by checking with the head of the jewelry dept. at one of the world’s two big auction houses. Had the client been only to that shop, or in a hurry to sell, she could easily have believed what they said and sold the bracelet for a fraction of its real value. Anyone can make a mistake, but there are only two viable explanations for this one, gross incompetence or gross misconduct. Always be very careful when the person appraising your item is also the person buying it. Some may be extremely honest, but there’s no guarantee. In some cases you might have to pay a fee to consult someone who doesn’t have a vested interest, but many people, like me, don’t charge for an initial opinion. The major auction houses (Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Bonham’s) also don’t charge for an opinion, but they also don’t necessarily respond to your emails if they don’t feel your item rises to the level of what they sell- so if you’ve written to them and got no response, but still feel confident your item is the real thing, check their websites for people in the appropriate departments and then give them a call to make your case.
And just for fun, here’s Grace Kelly wearing her Van Cleef & Arpels diamond and ruby tiara.