In association with Webb’s.
In a world overwhelmed with fast everything, the secondhand luxury clothing and accessories market is booming. As well as making economic and environmental sense, and providing access to super-special pieces, buying preloved delivers a shortcut to coveted brands hindered by global supply-chain issues and with waitlists that can stretch to months or years.
Auctions such as those run by New Zealand’s premier auction house Webb’s offer items at the more premium end of the market, encompassing antique, vintage and contemporary finds you can style your way or repurpose into bespoke pieces. Here’s head of fine jewels, watches and luxury accessories, Christine Power, to tell us more.
So Christine, where does Webb’s source its items from? We’re lucky to have a steady roster of repeat clients, and they often refer new clients to us. The majority of consignments are self-purchased pieces that a vendor is looking to part with in order to make space in their collection or simply change up their style. Sometimes we also receive antique and vintage jewellery that has been passed down through the generations. We tailor the consignments to our respective auctions — either online or live auction formats.
What lengths do you go to to ensure authenticity? Provenance, examination and assessment of pieces are absolute prerequisites. Every item of jewellery is meticulously assessed by our resident gemologist, with testing conducted on metals and stones. All of our specialists operate in a similar fashion to establish the composition and value of each piece, and we can also extend our network to include independent appraisers and valuers to provide market estimates and insurance values.
What research should people do when purchasing luxury goods at auction? I encourage buyers to have a good look over our past catalogues to get a feel for pricing and take notes on comparable pieces. If you can, it’s a great idea to visit the gallery [in Mt Eden, Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland] to meet with us and view auction items in person. Our team of specialists is available on site and for those not based locally to guide you and provide condition reports and any other further information.
What trends have you noticed recently? There’s a lot of demand for branded jewellery from international maisons. Take Cartier, for example — we have an avid following of their Love collection of earrings, bangles and rings. Tiffany & Co is also popular, from its collectible silver jewellery to more high-end pieces, and vintage Louis Vuitton is loved for its high-quality materials and finishings. When respectfully cared for, these pieces can last a lifetime, and astute purchasers recognise and seek out this sort of quality and longevity.
Are you much of a collector yourself? Anyone who knows me knows I covet Chanel. I’m a sucker for the iconic shapes of its bags and appreciate its variety of accessories, be they sunglasses, card holders, clutches, tote bags or travel pieces. On my wishlist is a classic Chanel flap bag in caviar leather with silver hardware. In terms of jewels, white gold and diamonds are my go-tos.
What would you consider the ‘must-haves’ in a jewellery collection? Choose chic, timeless staples, such as diamond studs, hoops, or French hook, diamond drop-style earrings. Classics like diamond solitaire pendants, diamond tennis necklaces, diamond tennis bracelets and diamond bangles are versatile styles, or perhaps choose a dress ring with a gemstone with a hint of colour.
Have you had any truly exceptional accessories cross your desk? A favourite to date was a rare consignment — a diamond tiara we presented to market in March. It was an utterly exquisite vintage piece of 11.44 carats, comprised of single-cut, rose-cut, mine-cut and native-cut diamonds, and it could be disassembled, so the floral diamond centre doubled as a brooch. It had been purchased in London’s Bond Street by the vendor’s father and had been in her family for several special occasions, including her wedding. It was even supplied to us in its original shaped Frazer & Hawes box. It was just gorgeous.
To see what’s up for sale now, head to the Forthcoming Auctions page on the Webb’s website, webbs.co.nz.