Christie’s, Sotheby’s See Jewelry Sales Drop in 2015

Christie’s, Sotheby’s See Jewelry Sales Drop in 2015

The Sweet Josephine, a 16.08-carat diamond, sold for $28.5 million at Christie’s Geneva in November. The cushion-shaped fancy pink was the auction house’s top jewel of 2015.

New York–Though both Christie’s and Sotheby’s brought down the hammer on record-setting diamonds and colored gemstones last year, both saw a drop in jewelry sales.

Christie’s total global jewelry sales, including both live auction and e-commerce purchases, were $624.1 million in 2015, down 17 percent from $754.7 million in 2014.

Global sales for Christie’s Luxury category, which includes jewelry, watches and wine, also slid, dropping 19 percent year-over-year to $756.9 million. Still, the category proved to be the most common entry point for new auction buyers, the company said, attracting 21 percent of all new buyers, the highest percentage across all the auction house’s departments.

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“It is … encouraging that new buyers represent 30 percent of our total buyer base, coming to us through curated collections, various categories as well as digital sales,” Christie’s CEO Patricia Barbizet said.

Overall, Christie’s reported that 20 percent of new buyers come to the company via its online auctions.

In 2015, the auction house held 79 online sales across 22 categories that brought in visitors from 174 countries. Digital buyer numbers increased 10 percent, with sold value in digital sales climbing 11 percent.

Sotheby’s global jewelry sales for 2015 also were down for 2015, totaling $571 million, a 5 percent decrease from $603 million in 2014.

Still, the auction house saw huge diamond and jewelry sales throughout the year, highlighted by the $48.5 million sale of the “Blue Moon of Josephine,” a 12.03-carat fancy vivid blue diamond that was not only the top auction jewel of 2015 but is the current world record holder for the highest price paid for any jewel at auction.