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Hammer time | Christmas shopping with added thrills

Steve Collins, Head of Jewellery, Silver & Watches at Cheffins auction house explains why the ‘Carats and Clarets’ auction is just what you need to take your Christmas shopping up a gear this year

Cheffins jewellery

It’s a well-known fact that most men hate shopping for presents – and especially hate Christmas shopping.

Wouldn’t it be great if the whole shopping experience was one big adrenaline rush – like the feeling you get when you’re in the car with your foot to the floor, when you’re holding that winning hand in poker, or on the platform just before that bungee jump?

How many people have experienced the genuine thrill of shopping… at an auction?

The first part is, I admit, similar to traditional shopping; finding the thing that you like. But the second bit…

Imagine you’re standing in the auction room. You’ve spotted the piece you know she’s going to love. It’s nearly time…. The butterflies start… your hands are sweaty; your mouth is dry. You’re breathing a little faster. Keep calm, here we go.

Lot 196, a pair of sapphire and diamond Art Deco-style ear pendants. She’s going to love these. Bidding starts… you wait a bit, heart pumping.

A pair of sapphire and diamond Art Deco-style ear pendants estimate £4,000-£6,000

Your eyes are focused on the auctioneer and that other guy in the room who has just put his hand up.

You put your hand up… The bid is with you. Have you got them? No! That guy puts his hand up again. Damn.

Then a bid comes in over the telephone. They're slipping away from you.

Heart is pounding louder now. You want these earrings. You put your hand up again. Bid is with you.

Eyes fixed on the auctioneer. The hammer is up… they're going to be yours. He points at you and the hammer comes down with a bang. You’ve done it! The earrings are yours. What a rush!

Lots 176 - A five row cultured pearl choker with diamond and emerald centrepiece estimate £1,00-£1,500 Lot170 - An early 20th century emerald and diamond brooch estimate £800-£1200

For those who have never been to an auction, there is nothing quite like the thrill of going for that piece you’ve spotted and fallen in love with, and then beating off all the competition to win it, and at Cheffins auctioneers in Cambridge this December there is the perfect opportunity to do just that.

Titled ‘Carats and Clarets,’ Cheffins’ Christmas specialist sale covers jewellery, silver, watches and wine. With estimates ranging from under £100 to over £10,000, there really is something for everyone there for Christmas.

There are many ways to experience the thrill of the auction, you could think of it a bit like the various colours of ski runs.

The hammer comes down with a bang. You’ve done it!

The ‘green’ run – for beginners, if you like – is called a commission bid. This is where you tell the auctioneer before the sale date the maximum amount you’re willing to spend. On sale day he will bid on your behalf up to your limit. You get the buzz of anticipation but don’t really get to take part.

The ‘red’ run, or intermediate thrill, is the telephone bid. On sale day, the auction house will call you and you tell the caller what to bid when the item comes up for sale. You’re bidding live so you get the rush, but it’s not quite the ‘black run’!

For the ultimate kick, try the ‘black’ run – turn up and bid in the room on the day. Go and see the whites of the eyes of the competition. You have the opportunity to make those split-second decisions that may be the difference between winning and losing. You get to experience the surreal feeling of there being no one else in the room except you and the auctioneer – face to face. There is nothing quite like it!

Auction highlights

The sale will take place at Cheffins in Cambridge on 2 December. Call 01223 213 343 to arrange a commission bid or phone bid, or bid online and view the catalogue here.

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