Young Indians Investing In Heritage Jewellery At Online Auctions

There is a growing awareness about heritage jewellery among the young generation of Indian collectors.

In May 2021, AstaGuru’s Heirloom Jewellery, Silver, and Timepieces online auction realised a sales value of Rs. 18.31 crore ($2.54 million).  The auction sold 79% (94 lots) of the 120 lots, of which 30% sold above their higher estimates.

The auction encompassed a curation of heirloom and vintage pieces, high quality gemstones from across the globe, and jewellery from celebrated brands in Europe as well as traditional Indian masterpieces. It also included silverware and timepieces from well-established horological brands.

In comparison, AstaGuru’s previous jewellery auction in October 2020 realised Rs. 8.87 crore ($1.25 million), with 67% of the 118 lots being sold.

A Vintage Gold Jadau Thussi fetched Rs.22.77 lakh, at AstaGuru’s Heirloom Jewellery, Silver & Timepieces Auction. Image courtesy AstaGuru

The surge in sales figures in the two-day auction was attributed to a growing collector base in India. Jay Sagar, Jewellery Specialist at AstaGuru, said, “We are extremely proud of the milestone achieved by our auction in India. The impressive results indicate a strong demand and a growing collector base in India that is looking to own pieces which are steeped in aesthetic and historical value. The category is slowly becoming one of the most anticipated in our annual line-up of auctions with a great number of bidders showing interest with every new edition of the auction.”

An impressive Vintage Mango Mala, circa 1930, realised Rs. 58.49 lakh at AstaGuru’s Heirloom Jewellery, Silver & Timepieces Auction.

When asked to analyse the auction further, Sagar explained that they had a number of first-time bidders participating, many of whom won bids placed. “The growth in the auction market for vintage jewellery can partly be attributed to the rise in the number of young and first-time bidders,” explains Sagar. The other two factors being an excellent mix of lots which appealed to the bidders and a growing awareness about vintage jewellery in India, noted Sagar.

A rare Colombian Emerald Cameo, circa 1940, realised Rs. 40.91 lakh. Image courtesy:  AstaGuru
An Important Pair of Large Emerald & Diamond Ear Pendants, circa 1960, fetched Rs. 92.21 lakh. Image courtesy: AstaGuru

In fact, the whopping results have led AstaGuru to receive numerous enquiries post the success of the last auction. They plan to host two exclusive auctions for vintage jewellery annually from the annual jewellery auction they have held since 2018.  

A rare diamond, ruby, pearl and enamel guluband, achieved the highest price in the entire sale. Comprising thirteen hinged square panels, each set with a central cabochon ruby and table-cut diamonds on the sides, it wentunder the gavel for Rs. 1.52 crore ($211,422).

The second and third highest sales were dominated by Basra pearls. A two-row necklace comprising 107 finely matched and graduated Basra pearls, sold for Rs. 1.50 crore ($209,110). The third highest price was achieved by a four-row Basra pearl necklace, comprising 367 finely graduated Basra pearls. It was sold for Rs. 1.26 crore ($175,254).

The two-row Basra Pearl Necklace, circa 1940. Image courtesy: AstaGuru

Among other notable sales were a pair of large emerald and diamond ear pendants, totalling 60 carats of Colombian emeralds and 3.50 carats of diamonds, and an impressive vintage mango mala, circa 1960.  

An important two-row Zambian Emerald Bead Necklace fetched Rs. 91.08 lakh. Image courtesy AstaGuru

Leading the timepiece section and achieving the fourth highest price in the auction was Piaget’s celebrated Limelight Tonneau-Shaped Diamond wristwatch (lot 119) that comprises 980 pieces of diamonds, weighing approximately 10.10 carats. The selling price of the lot surpassed its higher estimate by an impressive margin and was sold for Rs. 1.10 crore ($154,070). An 18-karat yellow gold Perpetual Calendar wristwatch by Patek Philippe and a Limited-Edition Royal Oak Offshore Survivor Chronograph wristwatch by Audemars Piguet were among the top-selling lots at the auction.

AstaGuru’s auction results are in sync with a Boston Consulting Group report from September 2020 which talks about the growing consumer base for second-hand hard luxury items—primarily watches and jewellery. They estimate that the sector is globally growing at 8% a year, faster than the luxury industry overall.

The report attributes the surge to online sales, changing consumer preferences, and rising concern about the sustainability of luxury goods, particularly among younger consumers. These trends were already well underway before the Covid-19 outbreak hit, but the pandemic and the economic slowdown it created has only accelerated them. 

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