How Much is a Natural Opal Worth?

Opal is the national gemstone of Australia, where the vast majority of the precious variety of this stone is mined. It is known for the striking display of shifting rainbow colors that the finest specimens exhibit, called play-of-color. No two opals are alike, from their base color to the hues found in their play-of-color, which means that determining the value of an individual stone is less straightforward than for other gemstones.

How Much is a Natural Opal Worth - Auction King

Take diamonds, for example. To determine the value of a diamond, you take into account the four Cs—color, clarity, cut, and carat weight. Evaluating an individual stone on these primary factors allows you to easily compare it to other diamonds. Opals, on the other hand, should be evaluated not only on the size of the stone and how skillfully it is cut, but on the base color, the stone’s clarity, and the colors and pattern of the play-of-color. Each of these factors will influence the value of the stone.

In general, opals tend to be cut in cabochons, which best display the shifting colors for which it is known. (The exception to this rule is fire opals, which may also be found in faceted cuts.) A jeweler may cut an opal into a free-form shape to best display an unusually striking play-of-color, but in general, symmetrical cabochons that are neither too thin nor too thick are preferred, and will be valued more highly.

The base color of an opal can range from white to black, with a white or light background being most common. Darker stones are preferred, as they tend to show a more vivid and thus more desirable play-of-color. Black opals, which have a jet-black base color, are the most valuable, and can go for thousands of dollars per carat, depending on the other factors affecting a stone’s overall appearance.

Opals can be found with a clarity from transparent to opaque, with greater transparency increasing the value of the stone. Clear opals of any base color are called crystal opals, and are coveted because their transparency makes the play-of-color throughout the stone more visible. Inclusions are evaluated solely on how they affect the overall appearance of the stone.

Many factors are considered in evaluating the play-of-color itself. First, the play-of-color should ideally be centered on the stone and not include any dead spots (i.e., places in the stone that exhibit no play-of-color). It should be bright and visible under any lighting conditions to command the best prices. How many and which colors are included in the play-of-color matter—colors on the warm end of the spectrum are rare, and a more varied display-of-color is better than a limited one. Finally, larger or rare patterns of play-of-color are more valuable than small patterns that may show only pinpricks of color across a stone.

Ultimately, the value of an individual opal is somewhat subjective—the beauty of each opal is unique to that particular stone, because of the geologic processes that form it. To find precious opals at below-market prices, visit the online auction at Auction King. Our live auctioneer can answer any questions you have about individual pieces via our chat module, so you can feel confident you know the characteristics of the necklace or ring you choose before you buy. Sign up for a free account to get started.

How to Get a Rolex for Cheap

Among high-end luxury watches, Rolex is the brand everybody recognizes, even if they don’t know much about watches. With a reputation for reliability, durability, and classic style, it’s no wonder that this has become the go-to luxury purchase for watch collectors or those looking to celebrate a significant career achievement or life event. Of course, with even the least expensive new Rolexes retailing for thousands of dollars, this isn’t a purchase most can make lightly. However, you don’t have to resign yourself to waiting until you can save up the money to pay full sticker price on a brand-new Rolex. If you know where to look, you can get a Rolex for a fraction of the retail price.

How to Get a Rolex for Cheap - Auction King

Rolex built its reputation on precision and durability, crafting its watches to function accurately in the most extreme environments. While Rolex watches come in a variety of different models, the overall iconic style has remained consistent and timeless. Classics like the Oyster, Submariner, and GMT-Master are still manufactured today in versions not radically altered from their initial iterations. This doesn’t just aid in brand recognition; it means even Rolexes that are decades old remain stylish rather than looking dated, and of course their superior workmanship means they still keep time perfectly. Savvy collectors take advantage of these facts to purchase used Rolexes at lower prices than can be found in retail stores.

As with many other kinds of luxury goods, your best odds of finding a good price on a Rolex are at auction. However, you need to be certain that you are buying from a reputable seller. Counterfeit watches are a big business precisely because luxury watches are such a desirable commodity, and Rolex is a prime target for those wishing to dupe unwary purchasers. While there are several ways to help distinguish a real Rolex from a fake, your first step should always be to take care in who you’re buying from.

You’re most likely to find a Rolex at a lower price at an auction that specializes in seized or abandoned goods. This is because these auctions won’t have a reserve, or minimum price, they are trying to meet before they’ll sell their goods. Rolexes are known for retaining or even increasing their value over time, so traditional auctions will set opening bids at a significant fraction of the retail value of the watch, while auctions of seized goods can start with bids as low as one dollar.

Just like a work of art, a Rolex is an investment that brings personal enjoyment to its owner while it appreciates in value over time. If you purchase one wisely, you can have the added satisfaction of knowing you got it at below-market prices. Auction King regularly features Rolex watches, along with other luxury watch brands. With deep experience in the auction business, we offer the convenience of online shopping with attentive customer service, answering all your questions on any piece so you can be satisfied that you are getting exactly what you want. Sign up for a free online account to get started today.

Are Lithographs a Good Investment?

Collecting fine art is a pastime often associated with the fabulously wealthy. This isn’t just an indication that rich people appreciate culture—they have found throughout the centuries that art can be a good investment as well. It is possible for those with more limited resources to purchase artworks as an investment, and lithographs are a popular choice. Are they a good investment? The answer, as with so much in the world of fine art, is “it depends.”

Are Lithographs a Good Investment - Auction King

Lithographs are authorized copies of original works of art. Sometimes these copies are made by the artist; sometimes the copies are made by someone else. In general, print runs of lithographs are kept low to preserve the value of each individual print. While a lithograph will rarely bring as much as the original artwork, they can be quite valuable even while being relatively more affordable. If you are considering buying one, look for these factors to assess the lithograph’s worth and potential for appreciation:

Rarity: The more copies of the same lithograph there are on the market, the less any individual piece will bring. In some cases, the original plate will be destroyed after the print run, ensuring that no future copies of the piece will be made to dilute the value of existing lithographs.

Quality: The quality of the print itself can contribute or detract from the value of a lithograph. Learn what you can about the process used to produce the image, as some lithographs are printed using traditional artisanal methods, which can boost the value of individual prints.

Condition: As with any other kind of artwork, the condition of the piece itself can greatly influence its value. A well-preserved lithograph without marks, dirt, or tears will obviously be worth more than if it is damaged.

Artist: Paradoxically, a famous artist may not be your best choice for purchasing a lithograph for its investment potential. Lithographs by extremely famous artists tend to command top dollar from the outset, which means that there is less potential for growth. You may be better off looking for attractive lithographs from up-and-coming artists—the advantage here is that you’re likely to pay less at the outset.

Authenticity: You’ll want to be sure that the lithograph you purchase is in fact authorized. Many of the signs you’d expect to find on or with an authorized lithograph—a certificate of authenticity, hand numbering, and even an artist’s signature—can be faked, unfortunately, so it is best to purchase your artwork from reputable dealer or auction house you trust.

It’s worth remembering that you should be prepared to hold onto any artwork you purchase for investment potential for a long time. The value of art tends to appreciate slowly, and is subject to the whims of artistic fashion. Your best bet is to choose a high-quality lithograph that appeals to your own taste, so you can enjoy it until you decide to sell. If you’re ready to consider purchasing a lithograph, check out the live online auction at Auction King. We offer below-market prices on fine art every day. Sign up for a free account to get started.

Rolex vs Cartier: Which is Better?

High-end luxury watches are a must-have accessory for both men and women of discriminating taste. Far beyond being simply a method for telling time accurately, such watches are a discreet way of conveying one’s fashion style and elegant taste. Although there are several well-known brands of luxury watches to choose from, two of the most venerable and respected are Rolex and Cartier. If you’re considering buying a luxury watch, you might wonder which of these two is better. The companies’ respective histories and philosophies may help guide you to the watch that is right for you.

Rolex vs Cartier: which is better? | Auction King

Rolex, perhaps the name most associated with luxury watches, was founded in 1905 by Hans Wildorf. His early focus in developing wristwatches was on producing the most accurate possible timekeeping movement, an effort that quickly garnered awards for precision never before bestowed on wristwatches. In 1926, the company produced the first waterproof wristwatch, called the Oyster, and in 1931 it invented and patented a self-winding mechanism. Throughout the years it has introduced innovations to its watch designs to make them suitable for professionals working and adventuring in a variety of extreme environments, from Mount Everest to the Mariana Trench, with an ongoing reputation for accuracy, durability, and enduring style.

Cartier was founded in France in 1847 by Louis-Francois Cartier to make jewelry and watches. Associated with both royalty and celebrities, the company was called “the jeweler to kings and the king of jewelers” by King Edward VII of England. Cartier designed its first men’s wristwatch, the Santos, in 1904 for Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont, who wanted a watch more practical for flying than a pocket watch. The design was a hit, and the company still produces variations on its classic square-bezel look today. The Tank, another long-standing Cartier line, inspired by the mechanized military equipment used on the Western Front in World War I, was introduced in 1917. Cartier is known for a fashionable design sensibility evident in their varied lines of watches.

Both brands offer outstanding timepieces well worth adding to anyone’s collection. However, if a company offering a focus on the quality and innovation of the watch’s mechanism appeals the most to you, then Rolex might be your preference. On the other hand, if you’re most interested in a luxury watch designed with a jeweler’s eye, then you might be leaning toward Cartier. The truth is, it’s hard to go wrong with either of these esteemed companies, so you can safely let your personal aesthetic taste guide you in your ultimate choice.

You can find both Rolex and Cartier watches, as well as many others, up for auction at truly incredible prices at Auction King. Access their live online auction conveniently from the comfort of your own home to view the latest finds in luxury watches, jewelry, and other high-end goods. Auction King’s auctioneers can answer your questions in real time via their chat module to help you get exactly what you’re looking for. Register for a free online account and get started today!

3 Tips for Spotting a Fake Diamond

Whenever you have a highly valuable, coveted gemstone like diamond, you’re going to have fakes. Of course, nobody wants to be fooled into paying top dollar for a cubic zirconium, moissanite, or even glass fake that is being passed off as a real diamond. People are justifiably wary of falling for an imitation, because some counterfeit diamonds look convincingly real. So how can you avoid getting scammed?

3 Tips for Spotting a Fake Diamond | Auction King

Of course, the only way to be 100 percent sure that the stone you have is a real diamond is to have it professionally appraised. Some DIY methods of trying to determine whether or not a diamond is real aren’t easy to carry out if you do not have special equipment or if the stone is already in a setting, and they may damage the stone you’re trying to test. But there are some safe, quick ways you can separate out inauthentic stones before you go to the trouble of seeking out the opinion of a gemologist.

  1. The fog test: Genuine diamonds do not retain heat well. If you breathe on them as if you were trying to fog up a mirror or a pane of glass, any haze you manage to produce on the stone will dissipate quickly. A fake diamond such as moissanite, on the other hand, will build up condensation as you breathe on it. (Make sure the gem is clean before you try this; dirt and oil buildup on the stone can affect your results.)
  1. Examine the setting: It is highly unlikely that a genuine diamond would be mounted in a cheap base metal setting. Check for symbols that indicate the setting is a precious metal, such as 10K or 14K for gold, 925 for sterling silver, or Plat or Pt for platinum. While a precious metal setting is no guarantee that the stone you’re looking at is a diamond, it is much more likely to be a precious or semi-precious gemstone. If the setting has rough edges, an obviously fake finish, wear that exposes dull metal underneath a coating, or is magnetic, then you’ll know it isn’t precious metal.
  1. Look at the edges of the stone: A diamond’s edges will be sharp and exact. An imitation diamond, especially one made of glass or a polymer, is more likely to have dull or worn-down edges. While a sharp edge won’t guarantee you have a real diamond on your hands, a dull edge is likely to indicate that you don’t.

If you’re considering investing in a diamond, taking the trouble to obtain an official appraisal is worth the cost. Of course, reputable sellers regularly provide appraisal reports from gemological laboratories for the diamonds and other fine jewelry available on their site, as we do on ours. This professionalism gives you the confidence that the diamonds you purchase at Auction King’s live online auction are the real deal, even if their below-market prices seem too good to be true. Sign up for a free account today and check out the deals today!

Thinking about selling luxury items online? Here are some must-do’s before you let them go.

The luxury item market is booming, thanks to the growing popularity of online auctions. That said, letting go of your precious items requires you take a few necessary steps to ensure you earn top dollar:

Get your jewelry appraised: If you’re selling jewelry, it’s always wise to get your items appraised before you sell. This will help you understand the true value of your jewelry, which can fluctuate up and down. You may find your item is worth more or less than you think, which may cause you to change your mind about selling.

Gemological reports are a good option, too: A gemological report will let you know everything there is to know about your precious gem, with a grading and carat weight, color, clarity, and internal characteristics. These reports are option used as a component in the appraisal process, too.

Get your luxury watched serviced: If you don’t have a certificate of authenticity but want to prove your watch is real, take it to an authorized repairperson, not to a dealer. Watch dealers will not provide authenticity, but repairpersons will be able to tell if a watch is authentic or not (and likely won’t service a watch that isn’t authentic.) Keep any records of the inspection, service or repair.

Provide documentation on sports memorabilia: Sports memorabilia is among the easiest type of luxury item to forge or fake, making it imperative to have a certificate of authenticity. Submit your items to the Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) and get them certified to earn the most money on your collectible.

Temper your expectations: Remember, you’re selling items that are ultimately worth only as much as someone is willing to pay for them. Be realistic, and know that you might not always get the appraised or expected value you were hoping for.

Stick with these tips and sell your item with confidence!

Pantone Released the 2017 Color of the Year – What This Means for Jewelry

Every year since 2000, Pantone, the company best known for standardizing colors from manufacturer to manufacturer and across industries through its Pantone Matching System, has selected a Color of the Year. They choose this hue as, in their words, “A symbolic color selection; a color snapshot of what we see taking place in our global culture that serves as an expression of a mood and an attitude.” These color selections invariably influence fashion and design going forward.

2017’s Color of the Year is Greenery, a shade of yellow-green that recalls new leaves and buds and the freshness of spring. The company cites the desire of modern people to immerse themselves in nature, to unplug from the hectic demands of everyday life, as the inspiration for this choice. As Pantone states, “Greenery is nature’s neutral,” and it is an easy shade to incorporate in your look through jewelry.

Emerald is classically known as the must-have green gemstone, popular not only for its beauty but for its resistance to scratching, which makes it a practical choice for rings as well as for earrings, necklaces, and bracelets. While emeralds come in a variety of different shades of green, those mined in Brazil tend toward the yellow-green end of the emerald spectrum. Emeralds are quite rare, especially those that are exceptionally large, free of inclusions, or deeply colored, which makes them more expensive than diamonds on a per-carat basis.

Another well-known green gemstone is jade. What we call jade can actually be one of two materials: nephrite or jadeite. Both can be found in a variety of shades of green, and they have been used as highly prized gemstones since ancient times. The most valuable jade has a beautiful green hue and is semi-transparent. In jewelry, jade is most often found as beads or cabochons, which best show off its color and touchably smooth texture.

Peridot, a beautiful yellowish-green gem-quality variety of olivine, is another green gemstone well worth adding to your collection. The iron in its mineral makeup accounts for its beautiful green color. It has been used in jewelry since the time of the pharaohs, and the Egyptians called it the “gem of the sun.”

Best of all, you can pair any of these gems with other colored gemstones—just as the foliage of a rose provides a gorgeous backdrop for its color, green-colored gemstones can be beautifully matched with almost any other color to produce a striking look. Consider a field of wildflowers, and you’ll realize that nature most often presents beautiful colors in profuse variety. Why not echo that feeling in your jewelry?

To find a variety of green (or other) gemstones at below-market values, look no further than the live online auction at Auction King. Their wide, constantly updated selection of fine jewelry gives you the opportunity to bid from the comfort of your home in an auction conducted in real time by live auctioneers, who can answer your questions via our chat module. Sign up for a free account today to see what you’ve been missing!

What Determines an Emerald’s Value?

Emeralds are considered one of the “big three” in precious gemstones, a classic jewel regularly used in high-end jewelry. But what differentiates one emerald from another? There are many factors that determine their value. If you’re in the market for emerald jewelry, here’s what you need to know about the most desirable qualities of this beautiful gemstone.

What Determines an Emerald's Value | Auction King

Clarity

Generally speaking, when you’re shopping for gemstones, the most valuable stones are those with no visible inclusions. However, that isn’t really the case for emeralds, because all natural emeralds have some inclusions that are visible to the naked eye or with a jeweler’s loupe. In fact, most emeralds receive some treatment to reduce the appearance of these inclusions during the lapidary process, which is not considered to affect the value of the stone. Only a synthetic emerald (much less valuable) might be perfectly clear—some are even given artificial inclusions to look more genuine. Thus, inclusions are a sign of an emerald’s authenticity. Emeralds that are considered “eye clear” are extremely rare, and quite valuable. It is only when inclusions are so numerous that they negatively affect the stone’s transparency that they can reduce an emerald’s value.

Color

An emerald’s brilliant green color is produced by trace amounts of chromium, vanadium, and iron. An individual stone can have a varying amount of each, and thus an emerald’s color can range from bluish green to yellow-green. The exact hue may hint at a stone’s origins—for example, emeralds from Zambia tend to be on the blue-green side, while emeralds from Brazil and Colombia are a more pure green. In general, the more intense the color, the more valuable the stone. Stones that are extremely light or extremely dark (so much so that the transparency is reduced) cost less per carat.

Cut

Emeralds are often cut in a rectangular shape, known as an emerald cut, to both enhance the natural color of the stone and to protect against chipping or breaking. Although they are resistant to scratches, emeralds tend to be somewhat brittle, and their natural inclusions can make them prone to fracturing. However, whatever the cut of the stone, it should enhance its natural sparkle and color.

Carats

While you can find emeralds in sizes ranging from truly tiny to huge, very fine grades of emeralds over one carat are rare. In general, a larger emerald will be worth more if its color and clarity are also good. If you have two stones with the same overall color and clarity, the larger one will be more valuable.

The overall value of an individual emerald is determined by a combination of these factors—a small but unusually clear emerald of gorgeous green may very well cost more than a much larger light-green emerald that looks cloudy from numerous inclusions. The best way to get a feel for the way these combinations can affect price is to shop around and compare prices.

Auction King regularly stocks emerald bracelets, necklaces, rings, and earrings in a variety of sizes, cuts, and styles. Our live online auction gives our buyers an opportunity to find exquisite pieces at below-market values. Sign up for a free online account today and browse our selections. The piece you’ve been looking for may be just a click away!

What Determines the Value of Tanzanite

Tanzanite, discovered only fifty years ago in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, is a relatively new entry to the list of desirable gemstones. Given its short history compared to more familiar gemstones like emeralds and diamonds, it’s not unusual to encounter some confusion about what factors contribute to the value of an individual tanzanite.

What Determines the Value of Tanzanite | Auction King

While many of the categories that determine the value of other stones—cut, clarity, and carats—also apply to tanzanite, it’s important to know that color is the most important thing to consider with this rare gemstone. The finest tanzanite not only displays an intense blue or blue-violet color, but it is also pleochroic, meaning that it displays flashes of different colors depending on which direction it is viewed from. In fact, its unusual and beautiful color is what has propelled its unparalleled rise in popularity since its discovery. The most valuable tanzanite has a deeply saturated color; while paler stones are also attractive, they do not command the same price as more vividly colored gems.

Tanzanite is cut into a variety of shapes for jewelry. The primary consideration in determining a good cut is showing the stone’s color and pleochroic properties, which means the cutter must properly determine the direction of crystal growth to achieve the best effect. A secondary consideration is the overall size of the stone. The cutter will generally try to achieve the largest possible cut stone from the raw material, unless this will result in significantly inferior color. A well-cut tanzanite will be brilliant and symmetrical, no matter what the shape chosen.

Because of the geological processes that form this stone, tanzanite can readily be found without inclusions visible to the naked eye. As with other gemstones, tanzanites with fewer inclusions are more valuable, and those that do have inclusions that can be seen without the aid of a jeweler’s loupe sell at a significantly lower price.

As with other gems, when all other factors are equal, a large tanzanite will cost more per carat than a small one. However, the most intense colors tend to be seen in sizes of five carats or more; stones of one to two carats tend to be much lighter in color than larger stones. In large sizes, the best-quality tanzanite can sell for $700 per carat or more. While tanzanites are available in a variety of sizes, gem-quality stones over thirty carats are quite rare.

One final factor to take into consideration is tanzanite’s rarity. The entire world’s supply of tanzanite comes from a single location only one and half miles square. While experts may disagree on exactly when the mines will run out, they agree that it will happen. Therefore, prices can only be expected to rise.

You may believe that a high-quality tanzanite is beyond your reach, since it is so rare and valuable. However, you can still find excellent deals on large, dark-blues tanzanite by shopping at auction. The live online auction at Auction King regularly features beautiful tanzanite necklaces, rings, bracelets and earrings for a fraction of their retail price. Sign up for a free online account today and get this rare gemstone before it’s gone for good.

5½ Tips for Buying Jewelry Online

Online vendors have made all kinds of shopping easier, and they’ve opened up a huge marketplace of merchandise that would have been inconvenient or impossible for a typical consumer to access before. As a result, people are shopping online for items they once would have only purchased in person, like fine jewelry. Online shopping has revolutionized the fine jewelry market, and it’s a great way to find beautiful pieces if you follow some simple tips.

5.5 Tips for Buying Jewelry Online | Auction King

Tip #1: Decide what you’re looking for before you shop

If you just Google “fine jewelry for sale” you’re going to end up with an avalanche of useless search results. Are you looking for a pair of diamond earrings? A birthstone pendant? A vintage bracelet? If you focus on exactly what you want, you’ll be able to narrow your search.

Tip #2: Know who you’re buying from

Buying online means you’re unlikely to ever meet your seller face-to-face, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn about who they are before you buy. Is the site a reputable vendor? Are they an established business with a history of specializing in what you’re looking for? You should be able to contact them directly via email, phone, or web chat and have your questions answered (whether about them or the item you’re interested in).

Tip #3: Research before you buy

Once you’ve narrowed your search and you’ve found an item or two that fits what you’re looking for, shop around a little more. Do you find similar items elsewhere for comparable prices? Keep in mind that the online branch of a traditional brick-and-mortar retailer may be helping to fund the additional overhead of maintaining retail locations, so you can expect higher prices if you choose to shop there. Online-only retailers will typically offer better deals. The best deals to be found will be at auction sites, especially those that feature live auctions of seized or abandoned goods, where there is no wholesale or minimum cost to be met.

Tip #4: Get certification

Fine jewelry is often pricey, so you’ll want to know that what you’re buying is the genuine article. Reputable sellers will provide third-party certification that will detail the features and quality of the stone(s) and setting and the overall condition of the piece. If the seller hesitates to provide this information, or asks you to pay for it, look elsewhere!

Tip #5: Understand the terms of sale

Shopping online isn’t always like shopping in a store, especially if you are buying from an individual listing a piece on Craigslist, say, or if you’re buying at auction. Make sure you’ve taken into account any fees, taxes, or shipping charges for your purchase. Knowing what you’re agreeing to ahead of time will avoid any misunderstandings afterward.

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Tip #5½: NEVER BUY ON IMPULSE!

If you’ve read all the tips above, this is a no-brainer. The best way to be satisfied with the ruby ring or tanzanite pendant you’ve bought is to make sure you know exactly what you’re getting, from whom, and how it compares to what’s out there before you ever lay down money.

Online jewelry shopping offers great opportunities, so it should never be a source of regret. If you’re looking for incredible deals on high-quality fine jewelry, sign up for an account at Auction King. They have a regularly updated inventory of high quality fine jewelry for auction, with minimum bids starting as low as $1. Check it out today!