Jewellery markets are thriving despite the credit crunch, according to auction houses, as buyers display an increased appetite for tangible assets over poor returns on money left in the bank.

"Period jewellery is doing particularly well," said Jean Ghika, director of jewellery at Bonhams to the Country Life website.

"Signed pieces, by jewellers such as Van Cleef and Arples, and Cartier will always be popular, and we have seen an increase in interest in 20th century designers like Stewart Devlin and John Donald.

"A lot of people like the fact that at auction you are often buying a one-off piece with history."

Bonhams September 9 sale included a gold and diamond dress ring from 1965, by John Donald, which exceeded its estimated of £1200-1500, selling for £1,950.

Certain items will always be popular whatever the market, according to Robert Ogden of Richard Ogden, specialists in traditional and antique jewellery based in Piccadilly's Burlington Arcade.

"Items that you would wear every day, like rings and earrings, are always good pieces," he told Country Life.

"Rings in particular are not only versatile, in that they can be worn everyday as well as well as for occasions, but they often represent special events, such as engagements or anniversaries."

Mr Ogden's advice to anyone investing in jewellery is to think of the next generation.

"A special piece of jewellery should be for the future, though this investment is not just a financial one. There is a massive personal element, especially if you are buying to mark an occasion. You are buying a moment in time," he said.

"The advantage of buying at auction is also the huge variety of pieces available," adds Alexandra Rhodes, senior jewellery specialist at Sotheby's.

"And if you can't find what you are looking for, our specialists will often be able to run through past catalogues, and keep an eye out for pieces that come up," she said.

"At the moment there is huge demand for pieces from the '60s and '70s, which tie in well with current fashion trends, so now is a good time to consign if you have un-worn pieces just sitting in the safe."

For collectors old and new, salerooms and specialist dealers are still the places to look for sound jewellery investments.

Regional auction houses are still doing particularly well - the July sale of Fine Jewellery at Halls Fine Art in Shrewsbury was their best ever.

"People are looking for other things to invest their money in," says Christina Trevanion Head of Jewellery at Halls.

"And the appeal of jewellery as an investment is that you can get a lot of pleasure out of wearing it as well. Anything timeless, classic and elegant is particularly popular at the moment."

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