Why something nearly EVERYONE has at home can be top of the auction lots!

Posted on 01/06/2021 in Press Coverage

People often ask what to look out for around the house to gain auction success but tend to overlook the most obvious thing – jewellery!

We may not all have antique furniture, a rare painting or a Harry Potter first edition but just about everyone has some unwanted jewellery, a vintage watch or, perhaps, a piece of silver.

They may be inherited pieces, gifts from decades ago or purchases you’ve forgotten about. They end up tucked in drawers, hidden in wardrobes, stuck in boxes or under the bed.

Valuable items get lost or are forgotten

And this happens because, amid our hectic lives, we often fail to grasp the potential value of items gifted to us. For example, a client inherited her late aunt’s jewellery. She thought it was mainly costume bits and bobs and tucked it away as a mark of respect. She had no wish to wear it.

Kate Bliss with just a few top-selling jewellery and silver lots sold by Hansons.

It was misplaced in a house move then - by chance 20 years later – she found the tiny box of gems in a storage box under the bed while cleaning. For the first time, she realised a bracelet inside was gold. Gone unnoticed for years, it sold for £350. An impressive return for an hour spent cleaning!

Diamond ring bought for £5.50 at charity shop!

Rings, bracelets, necklaces and brooches tend to be bought as Christmas or birthday gifts, or as a token of love. However, their diminutive size leads to them being easily mislaid. Plus, lack of knowledge means precious gems are sometimes mistaken for costume jewellery.

I often wonder how a £6,000 gold and 2.3 carat diamond ring, once consigned to sell with Hansons, ended up being brought for £5.50. It was found in a junk jewellery box at a charity shop. It was, perhaps, given to the shop along with a whole host of other items following a house clearance.

Diamond ring purchased for £5.50 from charity's junk jewellery box.

Our jewellery valuers including TV personality Kate Bliss - a favourite coming to our Derbyshire Auction Centre soon - have lost count of the times they’ve plucked precious objects from boxes of jewellery brought for valuation. Eclectic collections, often passed down through families, are assumed to be costume jewellery. Often, people approach us with an apologetic smile and the immortal line, ‘I don’t think these are worth anything but …’

Kate, a familiar face on Bargain Hunt, hopes to hear those words when she makes a welcome return to our valuation marquee at Hansons, Heage Lane, Etwall, on June 16, 10am-4pm, to offer free valuations of jewellery, silver and watches. If you’re thinking of selling at auction, do pop down – no appointment necessary.


Kate loves to unleash a happy surprise. It’s always a pleasure to deliver good news. And right now, it’s a tremendous time to sell. Gold and precious metal prices are high and jewellery does well under the hammer. In rocky economic climates investors prefer to spend their money on tangible assets.

Add to that a global army of online bidders, and auctions deliver some sparkling results. They offer a way to maximise the potential of unwanted objects. Even broken jewellery or single ear-rings can net a good return.

In addition, there’s growing demand for jewellery from discerning buyers who like to swap and change items of quality at auction. They enjoy recycling and rediscovering glittering objects to enhance their collections.

What this all means from an auction perspective is that jewellery is often the top-selling lot in any given sale. Take our recent Derbyshire Fine Art Auction. It included a plethora of treasures from fine porcelain and paintings to furniture but the top lot, 98, was a stunning early 20th Century 17.5 carat aquamarine and diamond set pendant brooch, above right. It was contested to £5,000. Another top 10 star was lot 168, a ladies’ Omega De Ville Ladymatic Co-Axial 8520 chronometer watch, £2,900, above left.

70s watch worn down garden sells for more than £51,000

Vintage and quality designer watches can gain incredible prices. They’re seen as a good investment by wealthy investors and collectors. A Tudor Rolex steel Oysterdate wristwatch, estimate £3,000-£5,000, made £51,100 at Hansons. It was bought for a few hundred pounds in the early 1970s at a Nottingham jewellery shop and had been worn while gardening. Other sought-after makes include Omega, Cartier or Longines.

This Tudor Rolex sold for more than £51,000 at Hansons.

Back to jewellery, and a glance at our May and Antiques and Collectors Auction top 10 reveals more dazzling stars. The top-selling lot, 241, were diamond and 18ct white gold solitaire earrings which soared to £5,650.

Then there was lot 169, a diamond and 18ct white gold bracelet, £2,750; lot 244, diamond and 9ct gold stud earrings, £900; lot 301, 9ct rose gold Albert link fob chain, £680 and lot 231, 9ct gold fancy link chain, £570.

And we must never forget silver. Tableware sells well and is often in immaculate condition. Wedding presents were often kept for best or never used at all. In a recent sale, a late Victorian matched King's pattern 12-piece flatware service made in Sheffield in 1894 sold for £1,400.

As well as free jewellery valuations with Kate Bliss at Etwall Auction Centre on Wednesday, June 16, 10am-4pm, Hansons’ head of jewellery and associate director Helen Smith offers free jewellery and watch assessments. To book an appointment with Helen, email: [email protected].