An inadvertant omission of the word "not" caused Edward Hall, manager of Galt's Jewelers, to be misquoted in last week's LIVING. Hall actually said prices on gold jewelry and silverware already in Galt's are not now being increased to match gold and silver market prices. In the same issue, the name of Robert D. Thulman was misspelled. Thulman is president of the Thulman Eastern Corp.
IF YOU HAD bought a simple gold wedding band a year ago, you would have paid about $50. If you bought it today, you would pay more than $80. A silver fork weighing about two ounces would have cost $65- $85 in January, $110- $157 now. The increases reflect the price for raw silver, which has jumped from $5.60 in January to almost $20 last week; and for gold, up from $212 an ounce last year to well over $400 a few days ago.
More than five major silver tableware manufacturers have temporarily ceased shipping silver tableware because of the current "chaotic" price of silver, according to Charles Schwartz, owner of the Charles Schwartz and Son jewelry store. Orders for silverware are being taken with the proviso that the price will be given when they're shipped. But some companies aren't even accepting orders, he said.
Meanwhile, prices on gold jewelry and silverware already in stores are being increased to match the market, according to Edward Hall, manager of Galt's jewelers.
"We hope to absorb a fair amount of the increases, at least through Christmas," said Hall. "But we'll have to make some adjustments." Schwartz said it's a real problem with prices for Christmas catalogs. "We have no idea in the world what price gold and silver will have reached by then."
Georgetown Silver Shoppe's John Duryee said that store has even refused to sell some big, heavy holloware pieces until the market calms down. "We looked at each other the day silver hit $16.40 and said 'Whoa, what do we do?' We've stopped ordering silver jewelry or tableware for the time. I doubt silver will go below $10 an ounce anytime soon."
None of the shops said they adjust prices every day to reflect the metal market. "But when gold goes up $30 in the month," said Schwartz, "we have to raise jewelry prices. After all, we have to reorder at the higher rate. And the manufacturer has to replace his stock at the market price. Currently, they are charging us at the price of gold on the day shipped.
"I was down at Adam Weschler's auction house the other day, and I saw an enormous amount of old silver. If I had the money, I'd put in a high bid for the investment. I don't think you could go wrong." THE AUCTION MARKET
Sales at Sotheby's Madison Avenue auction house of better antique jewelry amounted to $18 million last season, the highest of any auction house in the world. Sotheby's jewelry auctions worldwide amounted to almost $50 million. An auction, said by Sotheby's to be the "most magnificent jewelry sale ever held in America," is scheduled for Oct. 17 and 18, with an auction of antique jewelry scheduled for Oct. 25 in New York. Peggy Shannon, speaking for Sotheby's said, "we still don't have a real run on gold and silver, because people aren't buying to melt it down."
Christie's another big New York auction house, is selling the Mancini pearls, a pair of historic antique pearl and diamond earrings on Oct. 16. The pearls were a gift to Queen Henrietta Maria when she married Charles I of England. Her nephew, Louis XIV of France, bought them for Maria Mancini. The pearls, 400 grains on a seven diamond clasp, could bring as much as $150,000.
The Gray Letter, a newsletter about antiques, says that antique Victorian jewelry, mid-to-late 19th century (except art nouveau, which is already sky high), is the last of the good buys, especially if you can buy it from a dealer who doesn't weigh the gold and peg it to the current market.
The Walters Art Gallery women's committee is sponsoring a sale of antique and contemporary jewelry at the Walters on Oct. 25, 26 and 27 with work by 12 well-known designers and goldsmiths. It's being done in conjunction with the jewelry exhibition opening this week.