Wannenes Auction House: Insights into the jewellery world and market trends

Monaco Life discusses the latest insights into the world of jewellery and market trends with Teresa Scarlata of Wannenes Auction House, as she reveals exclusive details about the upcoming ‘Bijoux et Sacs de Luxe’ Wannenes auction and the history behind some of the rarest pieces on offer.

Teresa Scarlata is an experienced figure in the jewellery auction world, joining Wannenes in 2017 and currently serving as the Head of the Jewellery Department and Director of the Monaco office for Wannenes Auction House

Wannenes Auction House, established in 2001 in Genoa, is known for its blend of traditional antiquarian approaches and engagement with the modern, international market. The company has steadily expanded its operations with new offices in Rome (2003), Milan (2008), Monaco (2017), and Turin (2024), carrying out auctions in each location.

“We carefully select the pieces according to the location the auction is taking place as every auction is a story,” said Teresa Scarlata. “But what we always offer to our clients is something unusual and rare.” 

These branches support the Genoese headquarters through a network of art historians, antique dealers, gallery owners, and other experts. Wannenes has achieved notable success with private treaty sales and auctions, including selling a significant altarpiece by Ludovico Brea to the National Gallery of Palazzo Spinola in Genoa. 

Auction highlights

Upcoming events at Wannenes include the ‘Bijoux et Sacs de Luxe’ auction, featuring carefully selected 314 lots, which is scheduled for 8th and 9th July at the Hôtel Metropole in Monaco. This auction will feature sessions for jewellery and luxury bags, with Teresa Scarlata, Benedetta Romanini, and Costanza da Schio and Entela Cela Musolesi serving as experts. 

“This is a sale that includes a lot of different kinds of items, so I think the direction will be positive as there are many pieces from private clients that have never been seen before on the market,” revealed Scarlata.

Teresa Scarlata

The ‘Bijoux et Sacs de Luxe’ auction star is a Cartier brooch from the Panther Collection, featuring sapphires, emeralds, onyx, and diamonds, estimated at €25,000 – €35,000. This piece reflects the iconic designs of Jeanne Toussaint, the influential director of fine jewellery at Cartier from 1933, known for her long-standing association with panther motifs. Scarlata noted, “This is a vintage burch of that iconic collection of Cartier, as it is produced in platinum in the ‘80’s, making it a very special lot.”

A section of the auction catalogue will also be dedicated to Bulgari for its 140th anniversary. “We have several very interesting pieces, for example, a nice coral and diamond necklace,” said Scarlata. This necklace, engraved Bvlgari, is estimated at €5,000 – €6,000. 

According to Scarlata, one of the rarest lots at the ‘Bijoux et Sacs de Luxe’ auction is a platinum, gold, and diamond tiara/necklace signed by Musy Padre e Figli Torino. It features old and rose-cut diamonds, a PT hallmark, and an original case and is estimated at €24,000 – €28,000. 

Musy Padre e Figli, the oldest jewellery house in Italy, has a distinguished history of crafting precious pieces for the Italian royal family, including several creations for Queen Margherita di Savoia. “These pieces are quite rare to see on the market,” stated Scarlata.

The unmounted 8.74 carat emerald cannot go without mention. “The colour of this stone is incredible, and so is the transparency, making it very difficult to find an emerald of this beauty and homogeneity,” revealed Scarlata, adding that this precious lot is estimated at €80,000-90,000 and will draw the most interest from collectors.

All the important stones in the Wannenes auctions are certified by the most recognized laboratories, such as SSEF and the GIA, which makes buyers more comfortable and trusting as they know what they are buying. “It’s important for us to establish a trustworthy relationship with our clients,” stated Scarlata.

Another piece that is expected to draw significant attention from collectors is a very rare pair of 15-mm-dimeter natural pearl and diamond earrings.

Marchak box

A personal favourite lot of Scarlata is the stunning onyx, mother of pearl, and diamond vanity case signed Marchak Paris, 1898, featuring a mirror and French hallmark. This lot is estimated at €6,000 – €7,000. Joseph Marchak, known as the ‘Cartier of Kiev’, established his jewellery business in the Russian Empire before his family relocated to Paris, where his son Alexander continued the legacy despite interruptions from both World Wars.

Another auction, ‘Montres Rares’, will be held on 8th July, alongside the ‘Bijoux et Sacs de Luxe’ auction at the Hôtel Metropole, with Giacomo Cora and Michele Rosa as the overseeing specialists.

Deep dive into market trends

To assess the appeal of these lots, the market must be thoroughly understood. “The market now is quite difficult. We have a very rare section of signed pieces and period jewels to satisfy our clients’ taste,” disclosed Scarlata. The ‘Bijoux et Sacs de Lux’ features 408  signed lots all together. 

The auctions sales are also conducted online so clients can buy from across the globe. “With online sales now, there really is no limit,” said Scarlata. These clients look after the sought-out pieces, so it’s important to try to meet their tastes and needs.

The criteria used to select these lots are also based on the market’s demand. The smaller, not signed pieces are also still sold at the Wannenes auction, as they’re “something you buy because you like it, and that’s it,” said Scarlata. Other selections are made for clients who love and collect jewellery. 

The market demands change constantly as jewellery follows a certain fashion. “In the 90’s, everything was in yellow gold, then in the 2000’s everything was more about natural pearls, the the cultivated and the south seas pearls, now the yellow gold has come back again, it’s a cycle,” revealed Scarlata. 

But what never changes is the fact that clients always expect quality. Another trend is that at its peak right now is pure pearls, according to Scarlata. Therefore, the ‘Bijoux et Sacs de Luxe’auction also features unmounted gems.

“The constant change in the market demand is why my criteria is very wide,” said Scarlata. However, she adds, the important aspects of a piece are its sell-ability, quality, and rarity, which set a benchmark for whether it is a good investment or not. 

“We sold a pair of sapphire earrings from Kashmir, it was a very rare sale. The father of the owner of the earrings bought them in the 1960’s as an investment and paid around 400 million lira at the time. We started with an estimate of €400,000 and sold them for €1.7 million,” shared Scarlata. This sale is very explanatory of how investment in stones works.

Monaco’s top was a pair of Kashmir sapphire earrings that started from an auction base of 1 million and reached €2.960.000. 

For collectors today, Scarlata advises: “Always try to buy high-quality items with the correct certification, and we at Wannenes are always available to give suggestions and advice.”

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Main photo: Cartier brooch from the Panther Collection. All photos supplied