Despite endless daytime TV programmes showing life in the auction room, it’s still something that holds mystique for many of us. So how do you go about buying a Dior clutch or Breitling watch when the hammer falls? We asked the team at Fellows Birmingham for advice.
From the most sought-after handbags to in-demand watches, the modern auction room is far removed from its stuffy traditions. Thanks to the arrival of the internet and a move towards sustainability, the industry is now the eco-friendly way to buy pre-loved.
As one of the UK’s most established auctioneers, Fellows is leading the march for a more environmental approach and has a specific focus on luxury designer brands and rare pieces of jewellery – perfect if you’re looking for a one-off.
The family firm’s roots date back as far as 1876, and it is still based in Birmingham’s world-famous Jewellery Quarter, with valuation and viewing facilities in London’s exclusive Mayfair.
Alexandra Whittaker, from Fellows explains: “While our business is with the sixth generation now, these days people come to us to find the most desirable designer handbags, jewellery and watches at a fraction of the retail cost. Our regular auctions are the perfect place to find something for all budgets and tastes.”
The fashion industry accounts for around ten per cent of global carbon emissions, so opting for second-hand is a cost effective way to do your bit for the environment. When you buy a handbag at auction, for example, you can save up to 50% on the original price – tempting if you’ve had your eye on that must-have Céline.
Shopping sustainably means you not only get great value, but you’re contributing to the circular economy, keeping goods out of landfill and reducing carbon footprint. Win win!
“Even if something was a limited edition, you may still be able to find it in the second-hand market,” says Alexandra. “We regularly see limited edition artist pieces from Louis Vuitton that are no longer available from the brand itself. Collaborations with the amazing artists Yayoi Kusama and Stephen Sprouse are just a few in recent auctions.
“Because we want people to find exactly what they are looking for, we have Lot Alerts, telling us exactly what you are looking for. Our personal shopping service will then send you an email when your piece becomes available.”
While the atmosphere of an auction room is definitely an experience, many of us may not have the time or feel wary about visiting in person. Thanks to modern tech, you can sign up for timed auctions online, which normally takes place over two weeks and means you can re-bid if your initial maximum offer is beaten.
For Fellows Live, you create a free account (visit www.fellows.co.uk to register for one) and can see the remaining time left to bid on each lot. To make it easy, you don’t even have to wait for auction day to take part, you simply bid as the catalogue becomes available and indicate the highest amount you want to pay.
Once placed, you receive an email informing you if you’re the current leading bidder or if you have been outbid. Fellows Live automatically and confidentially bids on your behalf so that you remain in the lead up to your maximum amount. You’ll get a green notification if you the current winning bid, or red if you need to up the offer.
“We authenticate all the items that come through our auctions from handbags, jewellery and watches to antiques, art and furniture,” adds Alexandra. “It’s worth remembering that auctions are not scary. Our team is here to offer advice and talk you through the process. You can also check the condition report and the photos to make sure you know what to expect; or you can come and view in person or book in a virtual viewing.”
PRICING & FEES
While guide prices or estimates are provided by the trained experts at Fellows – for example, based on knowledge, current trends intrinsic value and previous auctions – the price of an item is ultimately led by the market.
The majority of items at auction have a buyer’s premium of 25% (plus VAT) but do qualify for free worldwide shipping. It’s also worth remembering that items bought at an auction can’t be returned. Remember that estimates are a guide price and you will have to take into account the buyers fee – you can use this bidding calculator to help with your calculations.
There are no fees for participating in an auction, only once you buy, and for the majority of items shipping is free (keep an eye out for the free delivery symbol)
To register for FREE click HERE
UPCOMING AUCTIONS AT FELLOWS BIRMINGHAM
Luxurious jewellery from the likes of Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and Kutchinsky.
The Luxury Watch Sale
Where you can find rare or show stopping watches such as Rolex, Omega and Cartier.
Perfect for everyday jewellery or starting a collection. Features designers such as Tiffany & Co.
Watches & Watch Accessories
The ideal place to start a collection or if you’re a budding horologist.
The Designer Collection
Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Dior you name it we auction it…
Antiques, Fine Art & Collectables
Looking to upcycle furniture? You should have a look at this auction.
Silver, Coins & Medals
The perfect place if you’re looking for a new dinner service!