Rago Arts is an auction house which specializes in fine art, decorative arts, furnishings, ethnographic artifacts and my favorite--jewelry! Although they have a worldwide marketplace and global outreach, the personal service they provide is something Rago Arts is proud of. The big jewelry auction is every December, and this year’s date is the 6th and is sure to be full of beautiful pieces. I recently got a chance to ask Rago Arts’ Jewelry Specialist, Sarah Churgin, a few questions to get more details. She has also sent me a few “sneak peeks” of a few pieces that will be in December’s sale. Enjoy reading and looking at the fine jewels!
GemGossip: How long has Rago Arts offered a selection of jewelry for auction?
Sarah Churgin: Rago Auctions had offered some jewelry since it’s inception 28 years ago. The identity of the auction house is connected to ” 20th Century Design”. For two years prior to my arrival in 2001, Bakelite and Designer Costume Jewelry had been the direction of the jewelry department. We still love those collectibles but now we cover gems, fine jewelry and antique categories as well. A recent trend has been a growing market for late 20th century studio artisan jewelry.
GemGossip: Where do you get most of your pieces that get auctioned off?
Sarah Churgin: All of our pieces come from estate or inherited consignments. With very few exceptions we do not take anything from jewelry dealers.
Some of our best pieces come in during our weekly open appraisal event.
GemGossip: How many lots of jewelry are you expecting for this year’s December sale? More or less than last year?
Sarah Churgin: Now in it’s 9th season, the December Great Estates Sale has a growing following, and the auction house is becoming recognized as a good place to sell estate jewelry. We have expanded our multi departmental semi-annual Discovery Sales to accommodate the increased number of consignment so the average lot in the upcoming sale is of higher quality than the average lot of any year to date. We estimate a 325 lot jewelry sale. Many of those lots consist of multiple pieces.
GemGossip: Have you ever acquired a piece of jewelry that ended up in your jewelry box rather than the bidding block? Have you come across a really interesting/unique piece of jewelry that you will never forget?
Sarah Churgin: I love jewelry. I wear it, study it, dream about it. Would I be happy to get some of the lots into my own jewelry box? ….Of course! …. Many of the consignments inspire lust. I am only human. But it would be unethical for me to offer a consignor a cash buy-out. The market sets the price. The pieces I really like always end up selling for way more than I could pay for them. Still I do get to try-on almost everything.
Innumerable important and memeorable pieces have come through. Some of then now reside at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Every sale offers it’s rare finds. this year’s sale includes a Cartier Stars and Stripes brooch, c. 1927, unearthed from among a group of much lesser worth. The moment of discovery is such a thrill!
GemGossip: If someone is interested in bidding, what are the steps they would have to take?
Sarah Churgin: The auction preview will be on the website by mid-November. Anyone interested in bidding should contact us at “www.ragoarts.com“