I have a confession for you, my darlings: I’ve never bought jewelry from an auction house. Shocking, I know. But it’s true! I find auctions intimidating and I’ve never managed to push through the fear…until now.
I’ve partnered with my friends at Fellows in England to have my very first jewelry auction experience and share it with you here so that we can all become auction aficionados together!
You might associate jewelry auctions with either eBay tchotchkes or very very very expensive museum pieces, but that’s a misconception. A huge number of the lots in the Fellows jewelry auction I’m currently browsing have starting bids under £100 and auction estimates under £500.
Yes, it’s in GBP, not dollars. Don’t get scared! We can do this! Current exchange rates mean that the dollar and the pound are very close in value. Use any online currency converter to be sure you have your numbers straight.
The exchange rate is a big part of why we’re talking about this today: do you know how rare it is for the dollar and the pound to be this close?? We Americans have to snap up that sweet across-the-pond jewelry while the currency is in our favor.
Why would I want to buy jewelry at auction?
Auctions are an opportunity to score great jewelry at good prices because it’s a purchase point close to the beginning of the retail food chain. Most jewelry stores source jewelry from dealers, who acquire their jewelry from collectors, other dealers, or auctions.
Each time a piece changes hands in this process, its price goes up. When you buy from an auction house instead of from a retail store, you skip two whole stages and therefore two levels of price increase.
Auction houses also have quality control procedures in place that simply don’t exist in more casual jewelry buying situations. Every piece in a Fellows jewelry auction has been evaluated and authenticated by Fellows’ in-house jewelry specialists.
How does bidding work?
The key mechanics of auctions are the same everywhere: bidders say how much they’re willing to pay for an item and the person with the highest bid at the end of the auction wins the item. Don’t forget that once you win an item in a jewelry auction, you’re obligated to buy it for that amount; a bid is a binding promise.
To place a bid, simply scroll to the item’s listing in the current Fellows jewelry auction, type the amount you’d like to bid, and click “place bid.” If someone outbids you, you’ll receive an email notification and then you can decide if you want to add a higher bid or accept defeat.
If someone places a bid within the last 30 seconds of a Fellows auction, the auction will extend the bidding time for that item by an additional 30 seconds so that anyone who wants to place a higher bid may do so.
How do I know what I’m buying?
Every listing in a Fellows jewelry auction includes the key information about the item for sale, as well as photos. If you want more, you can contact Fellows to request more images or a set up virtual viewing.
A virtual viewing allows you to have a one-on-one Zoom meeting with a Fellows specialist to discuss and view any of the items in the auction that interest you. It’s basically free personal shopping. The Fellows auction specialist can also help explain the buying process to you, if you are a first-timer like me.
If you get confused by any of the terms in the listing, the handy Fellows Auction Terms Glossary is there to help.
Don’t auctions have hidden fees?
Auctions do have fees, but at a reputable auction house like Fellows, none of those fees are hidden. The vast majority of Fellows jewelry lots ship for free, and the ones that don’t offer free shipping are clearly marked.
If you win something in a Fellows jewelry auction, you’ll pay the amount of your bid (called the “hammer price”) plus a Buyer’s Premium, which is 30% of the bid. You can use the Fellows Bid Calculator to calculate the final price of your purchase at any time.
Now that we’ve discussed why one would want to bid in a Fellows jewelry auction and assuaged our fears, it’s time to get in there!
How do I register to bid in a Fellows jewelry auction?
Signing up through the Fellows website is very straightforward. You enter your name, address, basic contact info, password, everything you would expect. I was happy to see that the registration form offers both “nonbinary” and “prefer not to say” as options for the gender field. Yay, inclusivity!
That gets you an account, but there’s one more step before you can place a bid: you have to verify your name and address through Fellows’ Identity Checker. I uploaded a photo of my Driver’s License, allowed the Identity Checker temporary access to my webcam to confirm that my face matched the image I uploaded, and I was in!
(Pro tip: the Identity Checker was initially confused because I was too far away from my webcam. I had to get close enough to the camera for my face to be the same size as it was in the Driver’s License photo I uploaded before it approved me.)
Here’s a peek at my own Fellows wishlist!! This slideshow is all of the lots I’m considering bidding on in the current auction. It’s an epic two day jewelry sale that just opened yesterday. Day 1 of the sale ends November 8th, Day 2 on November 9th, so go take a look right now!
What do you think, my darlings? Are you comfortable bidding in jewelry auctions, or is it new to you too? Do you have any advice for me on my auction journey? Have you ever bought anything from Fellows?
This sponsored post is brought to you by Fellows. All images c/o Fellows.