What’s It Worth? The Power Of Friendly Competitors

Brooches have fallen out of favor during the past few years. Women often see them as gaudy. The ones who like them think that a simple costume jewelry brooch will do. But the common complaints about the fine gold versions are that they are “too heavy, and they ruin my blouse with their pins and mess up the drape of my outfit.”

But brooches are seeing a bit of a renaissance right now, surprisingly being worn by … men! Most notably Adam Lambert, John Legend and Timothée Chalamet have been seen with oversized diamond brooches on their lapels.

So I put the word out to my colleagues around the U.S. and have been buying them at VERY advantageous prices, because most dealers still despise brooches. We sell them to private customers (often men but mostly women) and online. Profit margins are thin but we still love them.

Last week, a Los Angeles jeweler needing to “thin the herd” (raise cash by selling stuff that has been in his showcases too long) offered me a collection of nine heavy 18k gold brooches for 5 percent over scrap plus $100 per carat for the diamonds. Yes, they were heavy and yes, the cost was close to $15,000, but how could I go wrong? I am the master of these things, I told myself.

When I got them, I chortled a bit – as I noticed that two of them were signed by Claus Vollrath (hah! I scored!) and quickly sold one of them for double what I paid. I scrapped two (losing 5 percent) and put two of them in our showcase and two more online. One puzzled me; we could not figure out what the hallmark was. The maker’s mark was small and slightly buffed; I spent several days trying to figure it out. It was a stunning piece and I offered it to a few customers and colleagues for $1,500 (10 percent over scrap). No takers.

For fun, I posted it in a private online jewelers group for my friends to see. A lot of good-natured ribbing about my penchant for ugly old brooches ensued. Then a Chicago colleague, a friendly competitor, called me and shared who the maker was and asked for my best price. I quickly said $3,000, expecting a counter offer, but he rapidly said “sold,” and it now resides in his personal collection.

It turns out even though the hallmark was mostly unreadable, he was able to discern the maker because he had a similar one in his collection that was almost identical. It was made in 1915 by Fuset y Grau of Barcelona, Spain, and they are quite collectible.

If you have any valuable brooches that you would like to sell, we would like to see them.
We make house calls or will meet you at your attorney’s office anywhere in Tampa Bay.
We are former Sothebys.com associates. You have read about us in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal

St. Petersburg: 1131 4th St. N. 727.896.6656.
Tampa: Hyde Park Village. 1607 W. Swann. 813.875.3935.
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