What’s Your Bid?April 28, 10
While my experience of auctions is decidedly more eBay than Sotheby’s or Christie’s, I absolutely love these kinds of sales, albeit from afar. I really enjoy watching auction programs on TV, especially those that combine Antiques Roadshow-type valuations with an auction. Best of all, are those shows in which an item that was bought for just a few dollars ends up as a runaway hot seller. When that happens, the excitement of the televised auction room comes right through into my living room.
But, as I said, my experience of auctions is centered firmly on eBay. While the behemoth site has expanded far beyond its original operating model, in its earlier days, eBay was almost wholly an auction site, offering very few fixed priced sales.
As an extremely minor seller, I would forage around my bedroom looking for items to flog on the site. In my best ever sale, I made hundreds of pounds selling a few very collectable books, and while I can’t remember what I did with the profits, I have no doubt I ploughed them back into the website, buying other stuff to fill my now empty shelves.
Quite the most bizarre sale I ever made was a broken iPod, which I put on the site just because I didn’t want to consign it to landfill. Amazingly, four or five buyers worked themselves up into quite a frenzy over the gadget. As the days of the auction passed by, I watched in literal disbelief as the price for this useless bit of broken electronics rose and rose. I’m not sure what the iPod scrap market is like these days but if you have any deceased MP3 players lying around, it might just be worthwhile finding out.
Moving away from my, admittedly plebeian, auction experiences of books and defunct iPods, this month’s magazine concentrates on the big world of diamond and jewelry auctions, and what an exciting world it is.
For reasons that are made clear in the Focus, diamonds at auction remained pretty well immune to the financial constraints and reduced demand that characterized other diamond sales throughout the recent economic downturn. As a result, while miners were struggling to offload their stocks, manufacturers were holding off on buying rough for new goods and retailers were desperately praying for customers, auctions sales actually went through the roof. New record prices were set seemingly at every auction and according to the experts we talked to, we ain’t seen nothing yet. Prices are set to continue to strengthen, especially for the rarest and most desirable goods.
The Focus also takes a brief look at the world of rough diamond tenders, which can be a complicated subject for those not directly involved in that side of the business. Interestingly, just as the Internet is playing a greater part in the downstream side of the business, so too sales upstream are being conducted more and more with the help of the web. While online sales do not look as though they will totally replace more traditional methods of rough selling – such as direct negotiation – they are certainly gaining in importance and are likely to become increasingly important in the future as more and more mining companies and rough suppliers come on board this means of doing business.
To help make the happenings in the rough market more accessible, IDEX Online editor-in-chief
Chaim Even-Zohar offers his analysis of the recent rumors hitting the GIA’s Mumbai lab while IDEX Online researcher Ken Gassman gives his short but incredibly useful take on the engagement ring market.
I hope you enjoy these articles, as well as the rest of the content in IDEX Magazine. Please feel free to contact me with any thoughts, comments or queries. I am always looking for interesting opinion pieces to publish in the magazine. If you have something you are desperate to get off your chest, or something you think the rest of the industry must absolutely know, please send it to email@example.com