Two natural amber bead necklaces led the results at Fellows’ vintage jewellery and accessories sale on September 5, taking £1900 and £2100 hammer over high estimates of £460 and £800 respectively.
“Whenever we have amber at these sales we see bidders go crazy,” said Alexandra Whittaker of the auction house. “There is less around than there was two years ago when the price originally soared.”
The market for amber is fuelled in large part by interest from the Middle East and Asia, especially China where amber is traditionally believed to bring good luck and health. Fears surfaced earlier this year that China’s economic downturn would have a knock-on effect on the amber trade.
“A Surprising Treasure”
Interest in the lower-valued amber lots raised more moderate interest with a carved Burmese Jin Chan amber pendant going for a mid-estimate £50 and a modified amber ring taking £26 under a low estimate of £30.
The natural amber pieces proved consistently attractive, however, with a selection of loose and partly-strung beads taking £940 over a high estimate of £380.
Whittaker says that the original rush of interest in amber “flushed out a lot of pieces”. But, she adds, “people still don’t realise how valuable it is. It is a surprising treasure.”