Interview with Edouard DE GARO, Director - Expert of the Jewellery Department of Besch Cannes Auction since December 2016.
Besch Cannes Auction has been ranked 11th auction house for the sale of jewelry and watches in 2018. To what do you attribute this ranking, very flattering for a provincial auction house?
Edouard de Garo : Our 2018 results actually put us at number 11 nationally, which is not bad for a family provincial auction house, and it really touched Maître Besch and me a lot. I still remember when he told me, it was a lot of emotions
Our auction house has been able to stand out from the others by really listening to its clients. We know that in an increasingly fragile and troubled economic environment, buyers are paying more and more attention to what they are buying and what they are putting in. The quality of the jewellery offered but also all the upstream research work are the real keys to the success of our Jewellery and Watches department.
In our department, each jewel and watch require a special attention. With Olivier Santini (Expert in watches), we try to understand their history, to identify the defects and qualities, of course we then base ourselves on the market prices but also on the unique side on each piece. For my part, I am trying as hard as I can to find the workshop that produced it so that the presentation and my description are as specific as possible. In a word, we take the time. The time to provide a work of quality, the most accurate for the object we put on sale.
Our buyers know this, they are more and more numerous to follow us, they are more and more international and more faithful and this is the greatest of our rewards.
Jewels have often an affective connotation. What are the main reasons why their owners sell them ?
Edouard de Garo : There are several profiles. We are regularly mandated by notaries and lawyers to carry out the estimates for successions and it turns out that the parties ask us to put the estimated jewellery in our sales afterwards. At this level, it allows the heirs to pay all or part of the inheritance tax or donation.
There is the individual who decides to put his jewellery on sale at Besch Cannes Auction either because he no longer has opportunities to wear it, or he prefers to get rid of it for other reasons, or because the future heirs do not want it. There are many reasons but most of the time it is that at some point in his life the owner feels that his jewel has done its time and that it is time to find him a new home where he will be worn and appreciated again.
And finally, there are the administrations, courts and bailiffs who, following seizure or court decision, mandate us to put in sale so-called «judicial» jewellery and watches.
What criteria make you decide to put a jewel in an auction ?
Edouard de Garo : It has now been 3 years since I took over the management of the Jewellery department and as sales progress we see what is more appreciated, what buyers expect, like… but also the jewel must talk to me, I must like it so that I consider it has its place in one of our prestige sales at Besch Cannes Auction.
I’m very fond of the Art Deco period, the 40’s, 70’s. I love the jewellery of artists like Desprès, Arman, but especially of the local area like Picasso, César, Braque and of course the jewellery signed like Van Cleef & Arpels, Cartier, Boucheron, Lalique, or Sterlé that I particularly like… but also diamonds which, through my training in gemology at the GIA, have an important place in my selection criteria. I’m very strict about the diamonds I offer for sale. I take care so that our clients have as much information as possible about the stone. For the most part, we send them to the well-known HRD laboratory in Antwerp for independent analysis. We can really buy a diamond from us safely and still do business!
Many individuals are reluctant to entrust their property to small structures and are more inclined to turn to Parisian or even international Houses. What do you think ?
Edouard de Garo : As I answered you above, we carry out a really sharp work to study the jewellery and watches that we offer during our prestige sales. After why Besch Cannes Auction rather than a «Goliath»? Well, that comes down in one word, the «Confidence». When I started working with Maître Besch, nobody knew me, but he trusted me, he liked my vision of seeing things for the Jewellery department. Our first sale, on 31 December 2016 was a great success with 90% of the lots sold! Never seen before in the sales room. And it goes on… because we have been able to retain our buyers by providing them a beautiful diversity, quality, at competitive prices that often exceed my estimates, we still had in 2018 France records in terms of auctions. I’m trying to restore the true image of what used to be auctions, a place where jewellery was offered at attractive prices, a place where there was always the possibility of potentially doing business, of enjoying ourself !
Do you refuse some jewels? If so, why ?
Edouard de Garo : Yes, we have to select because we have more requests than we can include lots in our prestige catalogues. In addition, some jewellery such as costume jewels, the 9K, the cultured pearls, have trouble finding an audience here and that is why we do not propose them unless exception : successions or legal sales.
Besch Cannes Auction has specialized in prestige sales. What does this require ?
Edouard de Garo : For the jewellery department, choosing quality over quantity was obvious to Maître Besch and myself. Already for thirty years, he orchestrates his sales in the palaces, faithful to hotel MARTINEZ. Here he expresses his desire to offer his customers a pleasant, luxurious and refined setting. Then, the investment he puts in his catalogues, his photos, is nothing to envy to the big houses. There is no half measure at Besch Cannes Auction, a strength we can boast of, thanks to Maître Besch.
Why would you advise to sell with Besch Cannes Auction ?
Edouard de Garo : As you said, sellers are very much sought after by Parisian and international companies, but by selling here, it is first and foremost a guarantee of personalized service, a privileged contact and especially a treatment that will be the same regardless of your profile. Secondly, our fees are much more competitive than those charged by our competitors and fairest as well. Most make you pay advertising fees, contributions to photos, catalogues, fees in case of withdrawal, even if the jewel is unsold… We don’t do that in our house! The sales fees agreed upon together are clear and unambiguous and will only be deducted if we have successfully sold your jewellery. Otherwise, no contribution will be requested from you. We are retransmitted for each of our live sales on the platforms Drouot live, Interencheres and Invaluable and attract customers from around the world who follow us in «Live» and bid instantly via these platforms. Finally, our recurring and strategic advertising presence on papers (Gazette Drouot, Figaro, Nice Matin) and digital (launch of our new website cannesauction.com) give us very good visibility at all levels.
Interview conducted on 31 October 2019 - Besch Cannes Auction