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The Art of Valuing Collectible Assets

How to value fine art

Borro provides valuations on the basis of ‘Current Open Market’.  This is the achievable value when offered for sale i.e., (by public auction), taking into account the condition and age.

The valuation naturally begins with a physical appraisal of the asset by our qualified in-house valuation team.  With many years’ experience in the auction world, and qualifications from the Gemmological Association and Royal Institute of Chartered surveyors, they are able to offer a highly qualified appraisal of the asset.  Sometimes it may be necessary to consult external specialists to get a range of opinions, especially if the asset class is particularly unusual.  We also use the services of external scientific laboratories for example thermoluminescence testing on ceramics or the X-Ray of pearls and Gold ingots to ascertain their precious metal content etc.  The way we value each asset category is very different suing different sets of criteria.


Valuing Luxury Watches

When seeking to confirm the authenticity of a watch we often examine the certification/paperwork provided by the manufacturer and make sure that the serial number on the watch and paperwork tally.  Watches purchased on the primary market, are often registered to the buyer, though if they are not; this does not mean there is anything wrong.  The increasingly sophisticated level of fakes being produced also means we may have to examine the movement as well as the case, in order to confirm authenticity.  We then will look to comparable examples sold at auction, taking into account the condition and age of the watch before arriving at the final valuation.


Valuing Diamonds

Loose diamonds and Diamond set Jewellery are assessed using the ‘4 C’S’: Cut, Clarity, Colour and Carat weight. The cut of a diamond will determine brilliance and fire of a diamond and clarity relates to how many inclusion are in a stone. Colour usually ranges from D to M in a colourless stone and carat weight is measured because the bigger diamond the higher the value will be.  We will also consider fluorescence which is the diamond’s tendency to emit a soft coloured glow when subjected to ultraviolet light which is seen negatively by the trade.


Valuing Gold

Gold is one of the areas that has grown most significantly in the past decade.  Often the value of jewellery and gold watches is determined by how much gold can be extracted by smelting.  The way gold is valued is by weight.  Chemicals can be used to check the quality of the gold, but it is sometimes necessary when valuing ingots or Indian jewellery (which is made from particularly high grade gold) to send the jewellery to an external laboratory to have it X-rayed to check the item is made from solid gold.


Valuing Fine Jewellery

The desirability of gems is often measured on cut, colour saturation and the inclusions present.  The more desirable the stone the higher the market demand and un-treated gems usually command higher prices on the open market.  We will also look for treatments, some treatments can be detected when using the valuer’s loupe others may have to be tested by laboratories, who will provide industry recognized certification.  Gem-set jewellery also set precious metals, will often bear international convention marks or UK Hallmarks indicating the type of metal.   

Fine Art

Valuing Fine Art

The art market spans a vast period, from Roman and Greek, through the Renaissance up until the present day, with everything in between.  For this reason, it is often necessary to consult an expert who specializes in the particular period or artist.  The huge prices paid for modern and contemporary art means there are a huge amount of fakes in the market place and often specialist are best placed to spot them.


Valuing Fine Wine

For Wine to retain its value it needs to be stored continuously in climate controlled conditions from the time it is bottled up until the point when it is sold.  This significantly reduces the chance of the wine going off as even the most sort after wine is worthless if it is corked.  For this reason the provenance of wine is as key as its vintage and brand.  Like artwork and watches, forgers are also faking wine, by changing the labels on the bottles to better brands and vintages.  Often the only way to properly evaluate wine, is by tasting it.  Naturally the only people able to spot the nuances that separate a good wine from a fine wine are sommeliers and wine experts.

About the Author
Samantha Lilley MRICS, FGA, DGA
Director of Valuations

Samantha heads the valuation team and is responsible for regulating all valuations on behalf of Borro. She is a Fellow of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain and has completed the Diamond Grading Diploma.

She is also a Member of Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, serving on the Arts and Antiques Faculty Board from 2003 until 2011 and has over twenty years auction house experience in the valuation of fine art, antiques and jewellery.

Before joining Borro Samantha was a General Valuer based in the London and European Valuations Department at Bonhams Auctioneers, she was also Head of Department, European and Oriental Costume and Textiles for the Bonhams Group and Head of Sales for European Costume and Textiles with Christie’s.

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The Art of Valuing Collectible Assets


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