Whether your passion is fine art, great wine or high jewellery and watches, entering the often intimidating world of auction houses and antiques dealers can be a daunting prospect for a first-time collector. What do you buy and how do you spot a great lot? And, even if you’re an old hand with an ever expanding collection, where should you be making your next investment?
Glenn Spiro, founder of eponymous high jewellery brand G London and former senior director at Christie’s, know a thing or two about the world of collecting. Along with his professional background, Spiro’s own collection began with a jade ashtray picked up in a Parisian antiques dealer and has grown to include everything from Cartier carriage clocks to silver and precious objet. Here he shares his top tips for starting your own collection…
Buy what you love
The most important thing to remember when choosing pieces for your collection is to buy what you love. Finding something you like is far more important than its potential investment value or any other monetary consideration. If you don’t love it, and you don’t want to sell it quickly, then you’ve got to live with each other and you’ll just be looking at each other with sad eyes.
Go with what your heart tells you and if you’re a leader then you lead from the front. If you’re a follower, you just buy what everyone tells you to buy and then you end up with a safe or drawer full of things you don’t like.
Don’t limit yourself
Every piece has a different story and, honestly, there’s no rule of thumb for anything so don’t limit yourself to particular wine region, art style or jewellery type. Also don’t stick to just auction houses or only certain antiques dealers as you never know what’s out there. When you see something you love you know it’s meant to be. It’s like dating, when you’re not looking, you’ll find it.
Do your research and keep your cool
If you’re heading to an auction for the first time it pays to know what you want beforehand. Find that one piece that really triggers your fancy, look at the guide price and then make your own judgement call. Ask around, do your research and have some conversations with those in the know.
Don’t be frightened to get a bit bullish if you love it but don’t be led by prices because the truth of the matter is there is no real price. There’s no price on taste. That said, when you’re at an auction it’s easy to get overly excited and pay far too much. The buzz of the room can carry you away until you realise what’s happened and you go ‘oops’. Don’t have an ‘oops’ moment.
Ask for advice
Like any new skill or hobby, it helps to have a teacher. Find someone that you have a good feeling for and that you trust. Start conversations when you’re looking to buy and begin to gather knowledge. Search for someone to be your guide, muse and mentor. Unfortunately there’s no telephone directory, you’ve got to go to trade shows and talk and walk and ask. It can take many years but it’s worth it to find a great advisor.
Don’t be afraid to use your pieces
If you’re collecting jewellery or watches then wear them. Why not? That’s what they’re for. Some people might be worried about wearing something very valuable, and I’m not suggesting you wear it to the supermarket, but you should wear them when appropriate. Likewise, enjoy great art, don’t leave it in storage.