I hope you had a great Christmas. We're nearing the end of 2010, so it's time for us to ask the annual question: what have we as collectors learned over the past 12 months? Well, the ongoing success of collectibles as alternative assets this year has been plain to see...
For starters, a constant stream of new World Record prices were set across the collectibles markets, from watches and fine wines - which I wrote about last week - to the 1936 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic, today the world's most expensive classic car.
That was at the top end of the markets. Meanwhile, there was good news for entry-level and mid-market investors with the most price increases recorded in collectibles valued at £1,000-5,000 or £5,000-50,000 during 2010's third quarter. That's according to research by the RICS.
Actually, the RICS's survey - which also included higher-end collectibles (£50,000 or above) - found that 'Silver and Jewellery' was the best performing sub-category. Prices of silver and jewellery collectibles rose on average by over 40% to nearly 60% in this year's third quarter.
Meanwhile, jewellery's continued strength was demonstrated at the market's uppermost levels with this year's sales of the World Record priced 'fancy intense pink diamond' for $45.75m in Geneva.
The secret behind this successful sale? Well, a coveted treasure like the fancy intense pink diamond can be shipped anywhere. It is, in effect, a piece of global currency. What's more, the internet has made it possible for collectors from around the world to easily take part in these sales.
That offers some explanation of the successes in the collectibles markets throughout 2010. But, you might be wondering, what upcoming successes can we expect to see in 2011? Well, here are three of my top tips for 2011: fine wines, collectible wristwatches and art.
Sotheby's described its 2010 sales year, totalling $88.2m, as its "best in 40 years" for wine auctions. Meanwhile, Christie's watch auctions netted $91m this year - the firm's "highest ever sales total". So both of these niches are worth following in 2011.
And as for art... Well, that's where the globalisation potential of collectibles comes in. Some of the world's largest auction houses have been expanding into China, Russia and the Far East throughout 2010 - and these growing art regions will offer plenty of opportunities in the New Year.
Those are some of my tips. But what do the other experts think? A great tip was suggested by the award-winning alternative investments expert and Mail on Sunday contributor Toby Walne, in his exclusive interview with us earlier this year.
What's more, Walne's tip fits in perfectly with my idea that the portability of collectibles could be key to their success in 2011: celebrity hair. "I think celebrity hair is an untapped market. It's less open to forgeries than autographs," said Toby.
It may sound odd. But collecting celebrity hair actually goes back to the Victorian era. Back then, your favourite celebrity wouldn't have given you their autograph. Instead, if you were lucky, they would have given you a lock of their hair.
Better still, some retailers - such as the website asmallpieceofhistory.com - are offering celebrity hair for just £50. Bearing in mind that celebrity hairs have previously sold for thousands to tens of thousands, the investment calibre of these pieces is firmly assured.
So, whether you're looking to set up your own wine cellar, an art collection or want to 'do it like the Victorians' did with celebrity hair, the 2011 markets will have the right opportunity of you - whether you're looking to spend millions or just £50.
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Have an excellent New Year!
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