Top Tips For Buying Antique Jewellery At Auction

Visiting an auction house can provoke anxiety in a first time bidder, however we invited Liz from Fellows to offer some practical advice which will make you a pro in no time!

Will an unintended twitch in the halls of a London auction house leave you working out how to pay for an Old Master? Or will you be standing in a draughty warehouse trying to decipher a string of bids relayed in a high speed monotone?

Thankfully the reality is much less intimidating, and modern auction houses like Fellows, who are based in the heart of Birminghams Jewellery Quarter, are fun and friendly places.

Do your maths. Decide the maximum you want to pay for each piece, and stick to it. Getting caught up in auction frenzy is all too easy and you could find yourself bidding far more than you'd planned.

Don't forget to factor in the buyer's premium - an additional fee paid by the winning bidder to the auction house. Normally this is a percentage (15-30 per cent) added on to the final hammer price.

Do jump in when your item comes on the block. Auctions move fast. If you wait, the hammer may come down before you've worked up the courage to make a bid.

Don't miss the preview. You need to check the jewellery you plan to bid for! As an example, Fellows holds viewing days where you can call in to the saleroom without an appointment to view lots for a specific auction. Check to make sure you have the right date, or if you cant travel to the saleroom, contact the department to ask questions and view detailed condition reports and 360 images in the online catalogue. You'll find this is now possible at many auction houses.

Do register to bid and get a paddle number for the auction. You can't participate without one. Registrations take place on the website for commission and live bidding whereas if you want to visit the saleroom in person our receptionists will be more than happy to help.

Don't get into in a bidding war just because you're feeling competitive. If you beat another bidder, you may end up wishing you'd lost once you're stuck with paying far more than you planned.

Do make sure you want to buy. If you make the winning bid, you're committed to complete the purchase.

Don't put in your maximum too soon. The auctioneer will increase the price incrementally until the bids run out. Alternatively, you can place a commission bid before the auction.

Do look at the types of bid you can place. Commission (or absentee) bids are maximum bids which the auctioneer places on your behalf; handy if you cant make the auction in person, but does mean you cant retaliate. Telephone bids are an alternative to travelling to the saleroom, an experienced member of staff will call you before your lot is due to be sold, and relay the bids to you over the phone. Live bidding on online platforms is also a very popular way to buy auction trinkets, you can hear whats going on in the saleroom through live video and audio, and will know immediately if you have won your lot from anywhere in the world which has an internet connection.