Bonhams Los Angeles will hold its California Jewels Auction featuring fine jewelry pieces by, among others, Cartier, David Yurman, and Bulgari on Monday. The privately owned British auction house recently hired Dana Ehrman as the director of Bonhams Fine Jewelry Department in Los Angeles. With 30 years of experience in the field, she’s an expert on the antique and estate jewelry market. While ogling the California Jewels Auction catalogue we asked her about the evolution of the live auction industry and the latest jewelry trends.
There are so many stunning pieces included in this auction. How is the selection determined?
We are always on the hunt for amazing one-of-a-kind jewelry and pursuing private collections and estates throughout the U.S. Our jewelry department works as a united team, sharing our knowledge and experience and strategizing our sales to maximize marketability. There is a psychology behind the California Jewels Sale as well as our Fine Jewelry Sale, each has its own personality. We carefully sort and place the jewelry in the most appropriate sale to achieve the highest hammer price.
What kinds of pieces are the most sought after right now?
Signed period pieces from high-end European design houses are still highly desirable, and always will be; they are rare on the market and coveted in collections. Early 20th Century jewelry has dominated the market for many years: Belle Époque, Art Deco and Retro have all been very strong. With gold prices dropping, we are seeing a resurgence of fashionable chunky gold jewelry, long chains and color! Large, beautiful gemstones, polychrome enamel, and nature motifs are in for spring.
The tech industry must be having its impact on the tradition of live auctions. What does the future of auctions look like to you?
I do believe that we are all moving more towards mainstreaming our sales on the Internet, however you cannot connect emotionally with a Kashmir sapphire or a Burma ruby unless you see it against your skin. Nothing replaces the feeling of holding a fabulous Art Deco Cartier bracelet in your hand, seeing the scintillation of the diamonds, the unmatched craftsmanship, and undeniable history. The auction industry is growing exponentially worldwide, but there are limitations. Having a personal relationship with a specialist, speaking to them one on one—those are things that cannot be undervalued and cannot be replaced.
These seven sparklers are some of our favorites (and the prices they are expected to fetch) up for bid on Monday: