Auction houses are not just for collectors or the affluent. Christie’s Hong Kong experts Shiu-Fung Chiang and Nicholas Biebuyck tell SARA WEE how to score affordable fine watches and jewellery.
Piaget white gold watch with diamonds at Christie’s.
I’ve always been intimidated by the idea of bidding at auctions as I associate them with sky-high prices. But the truth is that they can be a great source of reasonably priced, beautiful jewellery and watches, as established auction houses like Christie’s offer a wide range of curated items. You may find Tiffany & Co. diamond necklaces with a starting bid of US$5,000 (S$6,787), or fivecarat vivid green diamonds from US$6,000,000. “Auction houses are perfect for beginners wanting to learn more about jewellery and collecting.” explains Shiu-Fung Chiang, associate vice-president and specialist of Christie’s jewellery and jadeite department. “We are not limited to one-ofa- kind items; we sell lots of affordable jewellery at market price.” I was pleasantly surprised to find starting bids of US$3,200 for a Blancpain wristwatch, US$9,000 for a Breguet automatic wristwatch, and US$3,800 for a turquoise and diamond jewellery set. At their watch and jewellery auctions in May 2016, 15 per cent and 31 per cent respectively of the items sold had starting bids of below US$10,000. The experts are of great help if you’re like me – clueless about the technical specifications of watches. “One month before the auction, you can call us or drop us an e-mail. We’ll send over additional pictures, answer any questions you have, and give an honest opinion of the watch. We can also provide a complimentary condition report, which gives you an honest appraisal of what we think the quality of the watch is overall.” says Nicholas Biebuyck, senior specialist of watches and wristwatches at Christie’s. My biggest takeaway from talking to these experts would be this piece of advice from Nicholas: “Never buy a watch for investment. Always buy what you like. There is nothing worse than picking up a watch you think is going to make you money, which you don’t particularly like, and being stuck with that.”
Shiu-Fung Chiang, associate vicepresident and specialist of the jewellery and jadeite department at Christie’s.
Nicholas Biebuyck, senior specialist of watches and wristwatches at Christie’s.
Gimel platinum earrings with diamonds at Christie’s.
Glashutte pink gold watch with jewels at Christie’s.
THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT ONLINE BIDDING AT CHRISTIE’S
• Visit Christie’s website (www.christies.com) for step-by-step instructions on registering, and indepth information about online bidding.
• All successful purchases through online bidding will be shipped; in-person collection is not an option.
• Put your mind at ease with Christie’s Art Transport service, as it provides multiple shipping alternatives, depending on your requirements. You can even get a shipping cost estimate before bidding on an item!
• If you are interested in live bidding, four options are available to you: online bidding with real-time video and audio; in-person bidding at a salesroom; over the telephone; and through an absentee bid – where you write your maximum price on a bid form you can get online, fax it to the bid department, and a Christie’s representative will bid on your behalf.