Posted on: 23 February 2022

A Sparkling Success: February 2022

Following the tremendous success of the Alison Barker Auction at the start of the year, we wrapped up the winter season with a spectacular February sale.  This was one of the first auctions of the pandemic period when bidders were allowed to bid in person by appointment, creating a great atmosphere on the day.  “It’s so lovely to have our room bidders back” said Christina Trevanion, “although the pandemic has promoted exponential growth in online bidding, nothing beats having bidders in the room pursuing their favourite lots – the buzz on sale day was palpable!”

Jewellery and watches took centre stage in the auction, with the top hammer price of the day being taken by an exquisite sapphire and diamond ring, which sold for £10,000 + Buyer’s Premium.

A colour change sapphire and diamond ring, sold for £10,000

“We have been lucky enough to sell an exquisite array of coloured gemstones in the past twelve months,” says jewellery valuer Helena Waudby, “however, this one was truly unique. As the name suggests, a colour-change sapphire does indeed change colour – but not in the way you might expect a mood-ring to! These sapphires appear one colour in daylight and a different colour in artificial light. This particular example transformed from a rich, royal blue hue in daylight to a vibrant violet. It grabbed the attention of our bidders from the moment our catalogue went live, and was the most watched lot of the sale. The colour and sparkle of a sapphire is always bound to captivate many, but the subtle colour-shift in this piece added something a little more magical!” With interested parties from across the globe, on sale day the bidding came down to two UK based parties, eventually selling to a private client.

A Victorian diamond sunburst brooch, sold for £5,000

Other highlights from the jewellery section included a spectacular Victorian diamond sunburst brooch which sold for £5000, and an Edwardian demantoid garnet, pearl and diamond line bracelet which sold for £3800. “Diamonds, of course, are always sought after and retain their value better than most other gemstones, but they have been performing particularly well over the last few months, especially antique diamond pieces.” Helena continues. “It doesn’t matter so much their setting or style, buyers are looking for good size, good quality diamonds, which are wearable. I would strongly advise anybody who has jewellery that they’ve been meaning to get valued, but perhaps haven’t gotten around to doing so just yet, to book an appointment now and capitalise on this boom!”

A WWII British Military Issue International Watch Company W.W.W manual wristwatch, sold for £4,200

There were further successes within the watch section of the auction, which boasted examples by top brands, including a Cartier Santos which sold for £1400 and an Omega Constellation which realised £1100, as well as special military issue pieces. Of particular note was a WWII British Military Issue International Watch Company W.W.W manual wristwatch, an example of the highly collectable ‘dirty dozen’ wristwatches. This name refers to the twelve brands of wristwatch which were given to British soldiers in World War Two, which were specially commissioned by the British Ministry of Defence – they had to be accurate, durable, waterproof and shockproof. The watches also had to have a black dial, luminous markers, a railroad minute track, shatterproof crystal, and a stainless-steel case. While they were standard issue in WWII, the watches have become legendary amongst watch collectors, many of whom are on a mission to collect all twelve examples. After catching the eyes of eager watch collectors from across the UK, the watch sold for an impressive £4,200. There was further success with a Hamilton General Service Tropicalized Military wristwatch, which sold for £1300.

“The demand for vintage watches exploded during the pandemic,” says auctioneer Ashley Jones. “In particular with military watches, people are fascinated by the stories behind these pieces, which played a starring role in a key part of our history – watches with good provenance are all the more saleable. Time and time again, people say that when investing in watches, the make is key – designer pieces by Rolex, Patek Phillipe or Audemars Piguet should retain their value. However, the prices for period military watches have only been going up for the past few years, and show no signs of slowing down!”