Cash-strapped families auction off boom-time jewellery to cover debts
A stunning six-carat pear-shaped diamond ring with a retail value of more than €100,000 that has been described as "Nama associated" has been sold by a top Dublin jewellery auction house.
O'Reilly's, of Francis Street, said the sale was made as a growing number of people are parting with their family jewels in order to pay for everything from private-school fees to household bills and debts.
Owner Michael Jordan described how people are delving into their precious jewellery boxes to help with cash flow: "We've seen people selling jewellery who give their reasons as being everything from the need to meet children's school and college fees to paying off debts.
"The first thing a lot say when they come in is: 'I've never done this before.'
"It can be quite a stressful situation, selling something they never thought they'd have to sell. I have become a doctor and psychologist rolled in to one," said Mr Jordan, whose auction house has been in operation for more than 60 years.
"But now they're only too glad they have it to realise the money. They can have their cheque in the post within three or four weeks.
"Jewellery was traditionally seen as an investment and now it's raining – it's fair to say that people are getting the umbrellas out."
Describing the boom time splurges in luxury jeweller shops, he said: "A lot of people who are selling are the people who bought in the good times. Rolex watches, Cartier, big diamonds. They were brought into places, the red carpet was rolled out, they were sat down, treated like royalty and they splashed out a lot of money on pieces. They got swept away with jewellery in the same way as they got swept away with property, cars and holidays and now there's great value to be had in auction rooms."
The stressed sale of the Nama-associated diamond ring, with a retail price of more than €100,000 made €90,000 at auction.
As Mr Jordan explained: "Property is down by 50 per cent but they can still make money from jewellery – depending on what they paid for it in the first place."
Reacting to Justice Minister Alan Shatter's legislation which allows for the retention of personal jewellery of sentimental value up to a maximum of €750, Mr Jordan said he had not seen "one single diamond sale" as a direct result of the bill, instead he believed "it has scared a lot of people into hiding precious gems".
Rolex watches, Patek Philippe time pieces and diamond solitaires are all among the 300 items up for the monthly auction, with the next one taking place at lunchtime on Wednesday, January 30.
"We have a Patek Philippe 18-carat white gold watch with blue dial that's 20 years old that would be €29,000 in a shop, but it's going for between €9,000 and €10,000 here," said Mr Jordan.
Other items coming up for sale at the next auction include a diamond necklace valued at between €5,000 and €7,000 and a Chopard watch with an estimated retail value of €9,000 which is going under the hammer for between €2,000 and €3,000.