Claire Heaney, Jewellery Specialist at Ross’s Auctioneers & Valuers - Ross's is Northern Ireland's leading auctioneers specialising in the sale of Irish art, antiques and jewellery.
What do you do?
I ensure a consistent flow of jewellery through the department, provide valuations on jewellery for sale, probate and insurance, manage the cataloguing and running of our monthly online jewellery and watch auctions, source pieces for private sales, and maintain a business development role within the department.
I am currently undertaking my ‘Graduate Gemmologist’ qualification with GIA, the Gemmological Institute of America. I am also an associate member of the Society of Fine Art Auctioneers and Valuers in the UK.
How did you get into the business and why?
I have long been intrigued by the crumbling glamour of auction houses and by the eclectic objects and people this industry attracts!
Working with antique pieces keeps me engaged on a daily basis, especially those featuring old-cut stones with lots of personality and charm. Recent favourites include a large Victorian crescent brooch set throughout with old European-cut diamonds and an intricately constructed Art Deco platinum and diamond brooch in the manner of Cartier.
What I love about the role also, is the significant input I have into business development and marketing. I recently worked with an incredible team of creatives on a new jewellery advertising campaign for placement in Ulster Tatler and also throughout our social media.
Sourcing the perfect engagement ring for clients! It is truly special when you get it right and help a buyer to select the perfect piece for a proposal! Also, I love to travel to London to meet with existing and new suppliers to source jewellery for the auctions and special quarterly viewing events in our recently appointed new jewellery showroom.
A particular career highlight was handling and selling a one-off Art Deco platinum and diamond line bracelet with 14.50cts of diamonds, which sold at auction for Stg£25,000!
What advice would you give collectors/investors?
Try to invest in the largest gemstone weights your budget allows for, putting your money into individual larger stones rather than pieces encrusted with smaller stones.
Jewellery from renowned design houses, known as ‘signed jewellery’ are a good investment and are sought after because of their exceptional quality. Examples include Cartier, Tiffany & Co, Van Cleef & Arpels, Bulgari, Boucheron, Patek Philippe and Rolex.
With fine jewellery, unless budget allows it, it may not be wise to get too swept up with trends. That’s what good-quality costume jewellery is for, vintage and signed if possible.
What do you personally collect and why?
South Sea pearls! I recently invested in a strand of very large, baroque Tahitian black pearls with a diamond-set clasp with the most beautiful storm-grey background and peacock-hued lustre. I am dumbfounded by their rarity, exoticism and the energy involved in growing such exquisite objects in nature.
Aside from all sorts of large-scale pearl and diamond suites, it would be a dream to own a one-of-a-kind piece set with a large Paraiba Tourmaline of intense azure-blue hue. They are one of the most expensive coloured gemstones per-carat weight and it is rare to find excellent specimens in large sizes.