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It's an old adage in the real estate market that prices tend to go up because "they're not making any more land." While the years since the crash of 2008 have proven this to be less than invariably true for real estate, the adage seems to hold good for estate jewelry.
"There's no new manufacturing of estate jewelry. It's only a question of what's available," observed Rahul Kadakia, head of the jewelry department at Christie's America.
Similarly, Gary Schuler, director of jewelry for Sotheby's New York, said, "There's always a shortage at the higher end, because not much of it was ever made. As the base of buyers expands, there is a greater shortage, and prices escalate."
The big auction houses have done very well for themselves during the economic downturn, which, after the worst of the panic in late 2008 and most of 2009, doesn't seem to have affected high-end buyers and their expensive tastes at all. During the year of panic, there was "a dramatic drop-off in purchasing of any type of jewelry," Schuler said. "But since then the markets, especially in the Far East, have picked up. It's been quite lively, especially at the high end, the best of the best."
"But even the lower end of the market, which is populated by independent .D jewelers, seems if anything to have …