Paul Martin and experts offer tips on antiques and collectibles. The experts share insider knowledge on what to look out for with jewellery.
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Over the years on Flog It, we've travelled the length
and breadth of the British Isles,
rummaging through thousands of bags and boxes along the way.
You've brought in something rather special, haven't you?
I think between £350-£500.
We've seen everything from corkscrews to costume jewellery,
and we've had some breathtaking results,
as we put those items under the hammer.
Flog it has taught us to sort out our Treen from our Troika,
and inspired thousands of collectors along the way.
In this series we want to share that inside knowledge with you.
Welcome to Flog It Trade Secrets.
On today's show it's all about looking good, and when you want
to dress to impress, the jewellery you wear is crucial,
so today we're giving you the lowdown on antique accessories.
That is a nice watch.
-Is it a military watch?
-A military Air Force watch.
We'll see some of the most stylish bling we've seen on Flog It over the years.
This was pretty much nearly the best one I've ever seen.
We'll be reliving some glittering successes at auction.
Yes! What a turn of profit.
And our experts will be imparting their nuggets of wisdom.
Always buy the best.
If it's a great big diamond ring,
the diamond is always going to be valuable.
Stick to the basics of quality, maker and style or design.
Who doesn't like a bit of bling?
On many occasions it's great to put on a brooch or a diamond necklace
or maybe a tie pin and some cuff links to make a bit of a splash.
Over the years on this show, you've brought us
thousands of items of jewellery to our valuation days.
More than likely it's because you don't like it any more and
don't want to wear it, it doesn't suit you, it's gone out of fashion.
After all, who would wear a ruby necklace in a supermarket?
But how can you tell your diamonds from a bit of paste,
and what should you look for when you go out buying?
In 2008, Bob brought in an item which got Michael all aflutter.
The dragonfly brooch was absolutely gorgeous.
This was pretty much nearly the best one I've ever seen.
The minute I saw it I thought, I'm having this.
I think Thomas Plant was with me.
I elbowed him out of the way discreetly. It was a wonderful thing.
It's really a family heirloom.
It belonged to my mother-in-law
and eventually it was handed down to my wife.
Was it something that was kept in a bank vault
or was it worn on high days and holidays?
I never saw my wife wear it, ever. It was kept in the safe.
So often the way with these things.
But it is a tremendously delicate brooch.
Firstly, we've got the fantastic detail of the workmanship involved.
This goes back to a period in Victorian jewellery,
about 1870-1880, where there was a fad for insects.
There was a whole vogue for these things.
But there are a couple of features that are more unusual
with your dragonfly brooch than many I see.
The first thing is that normally the wings are either silver or enamel.
It is most unusual to get, in this case aquamarines cut to fit in.
We've got the body highlighted with little diamond chips
and the tail running down.
Sadly, a couple have fallen out
but that's no big job to have those replaced.
I wasn't really disappointed that the diamonds were missing because
I did very briefly used to work for a diamond merchant, and those
diamonds to replace were only about £2 or £3 each.
And someone to do the work, maybe £30-£40. It wasn't a big job.
It's only when the stones start to become large that they become expensive,
and they were just very small chips,
Little rose cuts along the tail.
We've got the edges of the wings highlighted in diamonds as well.
Little eyes, they are rubies. But all of this work is mounted in silver.
But the body of the dragonfly and the base of it is all in gold.
It's set on a trembleuse -
a collection of springs
that allow the jewel to move and shimmer and tremble.
If you turn it over you can see the tremendous workmanship
that's gone into this.
It had a triple trembleuse.
It's difficult to do, so to do it three times rather than once
is just an indication of the quality of it.
Sometimes these brooches do tremendously well at auction.
I think we've got to bear in mind
that this is probably the best one I've seen.
So I think we should push the boat out
and put £2,000-£2,500 as an estimate on it
and put a fixed reserve of £2,000.
For such a stunning piece,
that presents good value to anyone at the auction.
Who knows, two people might battle it away to well above that.
Let's hope it's a lively auction.
Quality you judge by manufacture.
You look at the object and think how difficult it is to make it.
All of that gold work had to be pierced out by hand.
Then the silver had to be laid on top,
then the stones have to be selected and set.
It's an enormous amount of work.
A lot of the finest antiques, you couldn't make them
today for the price you pay.
That is where you recognise the quality of things.
So, how did it do at auction?
I had a chat to the auctioneer just before the sale started.
He agrees with the valuation, but said brooches aren't fashionable.
Let's find out what the bidders think in Cirencester.
It's going under the hammer now.
We are now onto Lot 365, the dragonfly brooch.
I can start you here at 1,550, on the book at 1,550.
He's got a commission bid.
1,600. And 50.
1,700. And 50.
1,800. And 50.
1,900. And 50.
We've sold it.
The book's out at 2,000, 2,100 now.
At 2,000 on the left.
At 2,000. 2,100 can I say now?
At £2,000, are you sure now?
It's on my left at 2,000. All done.
-Super result. Fantastic.
-Just hit the reserve. That's good.
-Put it there.
-I'm pleased with that.
This brooch was a particularly fine example of 19th-century jewellery,
and it flew in the saleroom.
However, there are still great finds to be made from this period.
If you go back to 19th, late 18th century jewellery,
that has fallen out of favour.
And often that is gem set and beautiful quality.
So I think stop looking at the 20th century and go back
and look at the 18th and 19th century and you'll find some bargains.
Quite right, Michael.
Taste is always changing, so buy pieces which are out of vogue
to see a hefty return when they are back in favour.
And a great tip to remember is small gems can be replaced relatively cheaply.
Repairing damage could help the value if you are selling.
But bling isn't just for the ladies.
If you're going to buy a watch, what name springs to mind? Rolex.
And Harry, from Barnsley, he brought in a Rolex.
But what I loved about it is that it was understated.
That's a sign of real class, isn't it?
You go and buy these watches today, they cost you thousands
and thousands of pounds.
Diamonds all around them, mother of pearl faces.
-They're not very subtle, are they?
-No, they're not.
I'm going to talk about it in a minute,
but tell me the history of this little piece first.
My father inherited it and it's come to me after his death.
-I've never worn it.
-Came down through the family.
-And you don't want it, you want to sell it?
Henry, that would break my heart to sell that.
With an item of luxury you don't always need a brand name,
the quality will out.
And in this instance, the quality just shouted at you.
Then when the name Rolex is revealed, well, you can't go wrong, can you?
-Do you know how old it is?
-I believe it's about 1930.
Let's have a look.
-There are import marks. You reckon it was 1930?
-I think so.
I think you're probably three years out.
There are import marks here for Glasgow 1927.
-It's just a cheap one.
..is clearly a cheap replacement.
That, with a nice strap on it, nice, black strap,
-I would love to own that.
-Oh, well, there we are.
And if that were in my family there's no way I'd be selling it.
-So, there's only one thing we haven't discussed.
-Yes. What do you reckon?
I think this sort of retro look,
vintage look is really popular at the moment.
I think that we can put an auction estimate on that of £200-£400.
-We'll put a reserve on it of £200.
I'm sure it will do well.
What are you going to spend the money on if it makes £200-300?
The car needs a service.
How can you trade a Rolex for a car service?!
Did the watch's quality shine through at auction?
Lot number 275, the gentleman's Rolex.
Silver case wristwatch, import mark for 1927. Another beauty.
-Lots of interest on the book.
Must start this one at £420.
420. I'll take 440 elsewhere.
440, I'm looking for.
This one's going to sell.
Anyone fancy 440?
With me at 420.
Brilliant, we've done it. Above top end, anyway. It's a good result.
Get the car fixed. Thanks very much.
£420 was a good result for a watch which wasn't rated by its owner.
You know, we sold that watch in the dim and distant past,
but I think there's a chance today that would make more money.
These things are very, very fashionable.
The thing about Rolex is it doesn't always say Rolex on the face.
What you've got to do is open the back up
and it will say Rolex stamped on the movement.
So you might find a watch that's got nothing on the front
but it's got Rolex on the back.
Just bear that in mind when you're looking.
Good-quality watches can be a sound investment.
Other names to look out for include Breitling, Omega,
Raymond Weil and Cartier.
Men's jewellery can have dips in popularity.
But if you stick to quality, you generally can't go wrong -
as Thomas discovered in Dunstable back in 2007.
Margaret, I think I've found something really quite delightful.
I must admit, I'm quite attached to them, as you can see.
What first attracted me to these cuff links were the size.
They were really oversized for your cuff.
They had this offset, beautiful pearl, this Baroque pearl.
So the mixture of the very yellow gold
and then the pure whiteness of the pearl worked brilliantly.
I think if one was going to wear a pair of very glitzy
and showy cuff links, I mean they're not everyday,
they were sort of dress, those were the ones to have.
They were a gift to my partner from his brother.
-His brother actually made them.
-Where was he from?
-They're both from Germany.
-And when do you think these were made?
-Probably about 30 to 35 years ago.
-Looking at the mid-'70s.
They look very '70s, don't they, very retro cool.
I'd put it more sort of Art Deco style.
Yes, I know what you're thinking, Art Deco,
because they're geometric and they've got the offset of the pearl.
But I think we're looking at the more modernist, retro style,
the postmodern style.
On Flog It we see a plethora of items from all different ages.
And yet we are very used to looking at the 20th century.
You're looking at big names.
But when a piece is Artisan-made, it still has a value.
Unfortunately, rules are rules and I can't bid for items at auction
-when we take them in for Flog It.
-That's a shame.
-It's a huge shame.
-I believe that £200-£300 is a sensible estimate.
As regards to a reserve, which I believe it should have, don't you?
-Oh, I think so.
-I think £200 with discretion would be very sensible.
-Yes, I agree.
-You agree, brilliant.
I'm now going to take them off.
-We'll put them into the auction for you.
-Thank you very much.
When you're looking at the late 20th century designer items,
anything retro or vintage, what one has to look out for
from a collector's point of view is names.
The exception to the rule were these cuff links.
They were made by a member of the family.
There are great artists out there
but they had a good metal content in them.
But my advice is to go for the big names,
because you'll never go wrong.
But without a designer name, did the cuff links struggle at auction?
-We've got £200-£300 put on these, haven't we?
By our expert, Thomas, who would have loved to have worn them today.
-They are smashing, aren't they?
Now we have a pair of continental gold Baroque pearl-set cuff links.
Where do we go, £200 for them?
Do we go 200? Yes, we'll start then.
110. I bid 20 for you, sir.
And 30 and 40.
Yes, we're getting there.
190. Are you going to be 200?
At 200, we're bid now.
£200 for those.
At £200. 10, is it?
At 220 the room is out.
220, I'm selling.
220, make no mistake, you're out.
I sell them for £220.
-That's good, that's good.
-Good estimate, Thomas.
So remember, ideally look out for names, but a well-made,
quality piece by an unknown maker
can sometimes do the business.
And precious metals and precious stones will always be attractive...
even if you don't plan to wear them.
Andrew, you're a big lad, what are you doing with a girl's bracelet?
I found it at a boot sale last year.
I know it's going to be cheap then, when I hear that, how cheap?
-It was a pound.
When I heard he paid a pound, it's a mixed emotion, actually.
Part of it is a slight jealousy, not really.
It was a bit mean to knock it down from £2 to £1, I thought.
But there's a dealer in all of us, I think.
I suppose at the time you didn't necessarily realise that
it was a row of 39 diamonds?
It was very dirty when I first bought it and it didn't look expensive.
I knew it was gold but I didn't think the gems would be diamonds.
Was it mixed up with a load of rubbish?
It was with costume jewellery, bits missing out of them and all sorts.
So I threw it in the door pocket of my car when I left,
and it stayed there for about three months.
Then one day you decided to have it looked at?
I was cleaning the car out and found it again.
I thought, "The stones look a bit sparkly in it."
But didn't think they'd be diamonds.
They do look a bit sparkly, don't they?
They do now, it was cleaned up very well.
Generally speaking, if it's mounted in gold,
nine, 18 carat or higher, then it's almost always going to be a diamond,
because you wouldn't put a paste into an expensive gold mount.
There is 39 diamonds which means a total carat weight
of about 3.9 carats.
-Yeah, it's on the clasp.
-Is it marked on there as well?
-On the end of the clasp, that bit just there.
-Oh, I see, 3.93.
And it's 18-carat gold, import marks for 1997.
So it's modern, but very wearable, isn't it? I would have thought, anyway.
It doesn't necessarily have to be old to be valuable in all cases.
But especially in jewellery, old-cut diamonds often had carbon
inclusions and flaws, it's all to do with the clarity of the diamond.
And how wearable it's considered and how fashionable.
If we pitch it at 600 to 800, it shows the buyers it's on the market,
it's here to sell and hopefully that'll get a few people in after it.
So, if we put a £600 reserve, if it doesn't make that,
you can have it back, because it's got to be worth that.
But being modern, did it tempt the buyers at auction?
The diamond bracelet, a lot of diamonds in here at £600 bid.
At £600 I have.
Nice bid. it's in, you've done it.
Where's 20, at 620, 640, 660...
..660, 680. 700, 720.
At £720 now, where is 40?
< Get in there!
At 720 now, and 40 do you like?
At 720, a lot of diamonds in this lot at £720.
It is going at 720...
Yes! What a turn of profit.
£1 into 720.
What an incredible result!
It just goes to show there are still gems to be found
if you rummage in the right bags and boxes.
Here's what we've learned so far.
Give things a good clean to see what you've got.
Have them checked over by a jeweller,
and choose things which are wearable.
If you think it's stylish, others probably will too.
If you're buying a diamond, always buy over a carat
if your pocket can afford it.
Because if you buy over a carat, the single stone, it will always
retain its value throughout the whole of its life it's with you.
Diamonds may be for ever, but what do our experts think is
a good investment if you can't stretch to precious stones?
I think at the moment going to an auction and buying a big job lot of
costume jewellery, you can pick them up for just a few pounds and then
go out and sell them and you'll make yourself some serious money.
Costume jewellery has risen loads recently in the last few years.
There is value in costume jewellery that maybe
we used to discard in the past.
So, the consensus is be on the lookout for costume jewellery.
Andrew certainly got lucky with his boot sale bargain,
but how do you recognise a precious stone
in a bag of costume jewellery?
A few years back, I learnt the trade secrets you need to know.
They say diamonds are a girl's best friend and I'd love to buy
this one for my girlfriend, but how can I tell it's a quality piece?
And what should I be paying?
There's an expert in this saleroom who's hot on his rocks.
He's a specialist in valuing precious stones
and his name is Jethro Marles.
Jethro, this one's not a diamond, this one's a huge, great big rock.
I think if I bought something like that,
I'd be paying it off on HP for the rest of my life.
You and me both, actually, Paul.
But, first of all, if you were thinking of buying this stone,
you are doing the wrong thing right away
because you're looking at it in totally the wrong conditions.
One of the first things you have to do is to judge
the colour of a stone and you don't do that in conditions like this.
-You need to get to daylight.
Either go to a window or, if you're in a good auction house,
-an auction house that has got a daylight lamp.
And you look at your stone in daylight conditions.
The other thing to make sure is that you put it on a white background.
So, if you look at this stone now,
whereas in the ordinary light it looked quite colourful
and you wouldn't notice,
can you see now that it's got a slight yellowish tint?
Yes, it has gone yellow.
The first thing you have got to do is compare the colour of this stone
with the colour-graded cubic zirconia that we've got over there.
You can see the difference straight away, can't you?
Absolutely! But, of course, colour is only one of the things
-we have to consider.
-What's the next, then?
The next thing we have to consider is the clarity of the stone.
-We need something like that.
-We need to go out and buy...
We need to go out and buy a little magnifying glass, a ten times loop,
which is what they're referred to.
Get a good quality one and then practise using it.
What you want to do is to hold your hand up to your eye
so that the lens is right in front of your eye
and as close to your eye as possible and then you can magnify,
go in and out, so that you can see all aspects of the stone
you're looking at.
What other things might you need to consider about the cut and the proportion?
The only other thing you need to think about is
the cut of the stone, not just the proportion
and the way the stone has been cut, but the shape of it.
So the cut does really mean the shape, does it?
If you like. So here we are looking at a circular brilliant-cut stone
and this particular stone is worth about £2,000 a carat.
If this had been a rectangular stone, of the same colour
and same clarity grading, it would have been worth about £1,800 a carat
Unlike gold, where the carat is a measure of the metal's purity,
with diamonds, a carat refers to the stone's weight.
So the heavier the diamond, the bigger the carat.
Do these same rules apply to valuing coloured gemstones?
To a large extent, they do.
But with coloured gemstones,
whether it's emerald earrings like this which are a nice modern pair
worth perhaps 1,500 to £2,000, this large, impressive green
tourmaline with diamonds around, that's worth about £500 at auction.
Ruby and diamond cluster down there, pretty rubies,
that's going to make perhaps £1,500 to £2,000
and then this stunning Ceylonese blue sapphire with two diamonds
on either side, that's going to make in the auction up to £10,000.
It's the colour, it's the brightness and the intensity of the colour.
They don't have to be dark, they don't have to be light,
strong and bright is the answer.
-Right, that's the key factor for those?
So when looking at precious stones, remember the four Cs,
colour, clarity, cut and carat
and, if in doubt, seek the advice of an expert.
Flog It regular Christina Trevanion is the first to admit
she has a thing for sparkly gems and jewels.
But as we know, fashions change,
and the things your granny wouldn't leave home without,
you may not want to wear today.
So if you want to sell your jewellery or
if you want to keep it, there are some very clever but simple
ways of making it look better, as Christina has been finding out.
The thing I love about jewellery is that the stones
we see today have been formed over millions of years in some
of the most hostile environments on Earth.
Think volcanoes, deserts and icecaps.
That's where gemstones are formed,
yet we get the privilege of being able to wear them today.
Gemstones, by their very nature are unique,
but the jewellery they're set into is dictated by fashion,
and fashions change.
But if you inherit granny's jewellery and it's not to your taste,
there's no point it sitting in a drawer, so what do we do with it?
I'm on my way to meet Nigel, a local jeweller from Shrewsbury.
-Hello, how are you?
-I'm very well, and yourself?
-Good, very well, thank you.
Tell me about modern and antique jewellery.
Have you noticed modern jewellery isn't selling so much any more?
-Have you started selling more antique?
Specific things. Unfortunately, the jewellery trade is very
fashion-orientated and grandma's old jewellery isn't terribly
fashionable, the brooches and grandma's engagement ring.
So, we're basically looking for old jewellery
we can convert into new jewellery.
-Obviously there's still sentimental attachment to that jewellery?
Jewellery they've inherited and they don't really want to wear it any more,
and they want it made into something modern and contemporary,
and something they can wear and then maybe pass down to their children.
-I've got some ideas I can show you. Would you like to see?
-Here we are.
-These are items that we acquired at an auction.
Specifically for the idea of converting them
into something modern and contemporary.
So, we've got a wedding ring, an engagement ring. And then...
-a beautiful little brooch.
-Sweet little brooch.
So can I come and have a look?
Of course, you're very welcome, we'll show you everything from start to finish.
-In here, Christina.
Welcome to our little workshop, very traditional.
What are we going to make?
-We're going to make a bracelet.
-I believe these are for you?
So what are we going to do?
I'm going to un-set your diamonds.
This is the first time I've been in a workshop,
so it's amazing to see this.
To see this end of it, it's brilliant.
Oh, my goodness!
This is a really simple tip which hopefully will help you
distinguish between diamond and another very effective diamond simulant, cubic zirconia.
So we'll have a look at these two stones.
This stone here, which you might be able to see some of this newspaper text through it.
And so this one should look a solid, grey-ish, black colour,
you shouldn't be able to see a huge amount through it at all.
This one is the diamond.
That is singular refractive and therefore the light doesn't
travel through the stone in the same way and you can't read the text.
So there we go, all for the price of a newspaper.
I'm drawing the gold down to make the right size for the links.
So working with nine carat gold today,
which has a slightly higher alloy content.
It would be difficult to work it in its raw state,
so heating it makes it slightly more malleable.
-Those are going to form the basis of our links?
OK, so how do we make those into links now?
We wait for them to cool down and then we saw.
It's so great to see this process actually happening.
I hadn't actually appreciated how every single link is handmade. Amazing.
At auction we're finding men's jewellery is becoming
increasingly popular, therefore prices are rising sky-high.
So here's a top tip for all you gents out there.
What about if you inherit granny's engagement ring,
taking the stones and having them set into a beautiful pair of cuff links.
That way, you get to keep granny's jewellery and it hasn't broken the bank.
Back in the workshop, Adrian continues to work on the new bracelet.
-How are you getting on?
-OK, that's what I've done while you've been away.
So those stones from the ring we saw downstairs and those will be going into those?
I'm amazed at how quick the process has been.
I really thought it was going to take a long, long time.
I just wonder whether you've managed to have a look at our bracelet?
It's all done, ready for you to have a little look at.
-Ooh, brilliant! Can I see it?
-You certainly can.
The moment of truth.
Oh! Oh, wow!
Oh, that's beautiful.
-Gosh, are those the diamonds from the brooch and the ring?
-Is that the wedding band?
-That's the wedding ring, yeah.
That's the 22 carat wedding ring.
-You can see the beautiful contrast in the gold.
-That's a brilliant idea.
It's worked really well.
And all handmade.
Jewellery was made to be worn.
It was made to be enjoyed.
Why not, if you've got jewellery that you're not wearing
and that you don't want to sell, why not think about having it remodelled,
so you can wear it and enjoy it for years to come.
There's nothing quite like owning beautiful jewellery,
but of course beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
So if you've got a piece that you don't like,
why not consider selling it,
or having it remodelled?
Whatever you do, always remember that although fashion changes,
quality will always be in vogue.
I hope you've enjoyed today's show.
Join me again soon for more Flog It Trade Secrets.
Paul Martin and a host of regular experts offer tips and advice on antiques and collectibles. Jewellery, watches and fashion are at the heart of this episode, and the experts share insider knowledge on what to look out for. Featuring a man who bought a diamond bracelet for a pound, and Christina Trevanion learns how to add new value to tired pieces that viewers may have at home.