Storefront on Jeweler's Row in Philadelphia

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Provenance In Jewelry

The recent sale of Kim Kardashian's former engagement ring got me thinking about how "provenance" affects the value of jewelry.  Provenance is used to explain how an piece of jewelry, art, clothing, etc becomes increasingly more valuable because of who the previous owner of the item was.  For example a strand of pearls could be valued at a certain price, but a nearly identical strand of pearls could be worth a considerable amount more had they belong Audrey Hepburn or Jackie Kennedy.  Similarly, an item of jewelry can become much more valuable based on who the designer is.  An antique ring signed by Tiffany's or Cartier is far more valuable than an identical ring that is simply a reproduction.     
Kris Humphries reportedly sold Kim Kardashian's former ring at a Christie's auction for close to $750,000.00, however, that value is nearly double the $300,000-$400,000 price it was expected to sell for.  Auctions do tend to be the best place to sell exceptional jewelry, due to the likelihood rival bidders will drive up the price of one of a kind items.  Kim's ring may have sold for more because multiple buyers simply "had to" have it and thus created a bidding war.  More likely though, the Kardashian name itself was enough to convince the buyer that it was worth more than its estimate.  Both her former and current ring (given to her by Kanye West) are from designer Lorraine Schwartz.  Lorraine Schwartz herself is a famous name in celebrity jewelry, so that could have driven the value up as well. 

This is just a modern day example that got me thinking.  Most of the time provenance has to do with signed jewelry from famous design houses like Tiffany's, Cartier, Van Cleef and Arpels, Mikimoto etc, or from famous monarchs or celebrities.  These items are more likely to be found at auction than at a brick and mortar jewelry store like ourselves.  

Nevertheless, feel free to shop our online store to add to your own collection of jewelry.  Who knows, maybe the fact that YOU owned will someday make it more valuable.  


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